There’s a phenomenon going on that’s not getting enough attention and a lot of women my age are experiencing it. The generation coming after me will experience it. Yet, hardly anyone is discussing it. And we need to be. I’m talking about the changes in our menstrual cycles.
I will turn 39 in May. As excited as I am, I must admit I’m wondering what that will mean for me on a monthly basis.
As a woman, now that I really think about it, I’ve heard a lot about menopause over the years. I mainly just hear about the “personal summers” also known as hot flashes. I’m not sure what it all entails. I’ve never really given it much thought, until now. And that’s because the discussion about how our cycles differ from our earlier years isn’t a hot topic.
As most of us are, I’m involved in a few group chats. There’s one in particular that includes childhood friends who I’ve known for over 30 years. We talk daily and for us, there aren’t many topics that are off limits. I never know what I may encounter.
Every month, the topic of our cycles arises. It’s usually rooted in a disbelief in the side effects we’re experiencing and at some point one of us will say, “No one told us it would be like this.”
What we’ve been experiencing lately is foreign to us. We were used to cramping, occasional night sweats, bloating, cravings, sluggishness and irritability. However, we weren’t warned that as we aged, we would experience all of this more intensely, more aggressively and more frequently.
A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to teach a group exercise class. When I woke up that morning, I already knew there was no way “chipper” me could show up and be effective. My cramps wouldn’t allow it. When I was a teenager, my cramps used to cause so much pain that there would be times when I would have to leave school. I thought the days of not being able to do something physically because of cramps were over. I was used to discomfort, but this what I’m experiencing now. Oh my!
I get it. I’m a woman. Our bodies go through changes. I expect that to happen.
“No one prepared me for this,” I told my mama one day. I respect the fact that she couldn’t because she didn’t have this experience. Somebody did though! I’ve been raised by a village of women who share all types of advice and stories with me. Nary a one shared this. At this point, I’m side eyeing each of them.
All jokes aside, I do believe this is a topic of discussion that needs to take place more frequently. All of our bodies react differently, but women need to at least be aware of what may happen later in life. We need women who are going to say, “Hey, I don’t know what may happen for you but this was what happened to me.”
Having an idea of what may be awaiting you is better than having no prior knowledge of the changes that may occur. Because my friends and I have discussed and agreed, I’ve made it a point to share this information with women in their late twenties and early thirties.
They need to know so they can prepare.
Plus, they’re going to need to be assembling a group of women who can support them during this transition.
Trust me, I know.
Kassaundra Shanette Lockhart is a freelance writer.