If, like me, you’re a woman over 40 and things are changing with your body and mood you can’t explain, the answer might be perimenopause. Add the stress and chaos of business travel to that and you’ve got a hot mess of temperature fluctuations, mood swings and general discomfort; all happily experienced at 30,000 feet or in claustrophobic hotel rooms.
If you google perimenopause, you will find it has a ridiculous range of symptoms and can begin anywhere between the ages of 40-50. Symptoms include anxiety, mood swings, irritability, hot flashes, increased PMS, night sweats, racing heart, headaches, painful sex, insomnia, changing menstrual cycles, sore breasts, bloating, and general aches. Add to that a feeling of being invisible and a loss of confidence and it’s completely clear how tough women are to power through ALL this and still excel at being productive members of society. The list alone brings on a desire to curl up in a ball. Also, the duration of perimenopause is hard to pinpoint. According to WebMD, “The average length of perimenopause is 4 years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years.” To plan for something that could last 90 days OR a decade is something even the most intrepid and accomplished woman executive would view as challenging.
What if you're experiencing all of those symptoms in the air, in transit, away from the comfort of home, for days, weeks, and months at a time?
Perimenopause is literally the precursor to menopause, when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. You won’t know for sure it’s happened until you’ve gone a year without menstruating. When you reach your mid-40s, the unsatisfying reality check that your baby-making years are over hits you in the uterus like the weight of an infant car carrier that you no longer have to carry. And some of this sadness is exacerbated by natural hormonal shifts.
Keeping calm and rational during cancelled flights, rude aisle mates, and absences from family is challenging enough without adding all the unique joys of the journey through womanhood.
Since many of us at Go Jane Go travel most weeks and thousands of miles a year, naturally we often experience life through the lens of being in transit. Happily, the Go Jane Go Community (click here to join!) offers logical and rational advice on how manage some of the symptoms of perimenopause so we can still be the accomplished road warriors we love to be. Here are a few of the great suggestions our discussion thread produced;
- Read about it. We like the Mayo Clinic and Women to Women.
- This may be laughable, but minimize habits that exacerbate the symptoms, like smoking, alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods.
- Dress in layers to aid in dealing with hot flashes - especially on planes and in airports.
- Consider sub-therapeutic doses of antidepressants - talk with your doctor/OB (several of us supported this as being very helpful).
- Consider alternative or complementary treatments and therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, reflexology and naturopathy.
- We've read that staying sexually active helps, (though many of us laughed at this and decided this tip might have been written by a man).
- Call it your “second spring” and own it.
Business travel can be both challenging and rewarding and we love to be prepared for both. Having the information and resources to deal with the realities each life stage brings while we are on the road is the aim of Go Jane Go. Have other topics you'd like to see the Go Jane Go Community address? Let us know here!
Journey on, Janes!