I'm 49 and I'm tired of menstruating.
I've never had particularly awful menstrual cycles, just the run-of-the mill premenstrual irritability, bloating, spaced-outness, craving for sugar, sleeplessness at night, sleepiness in the day and, in more recent years, mild headaches. (Not all of these every time.) Then when the period itself starts, I sometimes get cramps, bloating, achiness, tiredness and inability to concentrate.
Not to mention the need to buy tampons, the blood stains on sheets and underwear and clothing, the annoying discovery of the need to change tampons when you have gone to the toilet without a tampon (at work). Etcetera.
I've been going through all this for 37 years now. I have one child. There hasn't been a remote chance that I would get pregnant if I tried to for the past few years. So these bodily cycles are redundant, a waste of my time, energy and money.
I suppose you could argue that they put me in touch with my essential physical self. I have myself been known to argue that, when I was in my 30s and looking for rationales for having to go through the monthly fluctuations. Trying to put the best possible face on it. And there's a grain of truth there. It can be fascinating and reassuring to realise that your bad mood is simply hormonal. There's something wonderful about the lifting of the fog hours before the period arrives. It was always interesting to keep a menstrual calendar and watch the variations. To have a very long cycle if something dreadful had happened. Or a very short cycle for the same reason. To realise that an increase in appetite signalled that I had ovulated. To see the stretchy mucous.
As I said, I haven't had particularly bad periods, not compared to those women who have to go to bed with a hot water bottle (this was a particularly popular approach in England). Who have to take compound painkillers. Who have to wear a pad plus a tampon.
And in the past few years, my periods have lightened a lot, a sign that menopause is on its way. But maybe because they have lightened, I keep being caught out by them. A month ago I had to walk quickly home from the local markets as I realised that blood was dripping down my leg. Honestly - I'm 49! This is ridiculous. Today I have blood stains on my newly washed linen trousers. Of course, no one but me can see them, but that's not the point. This is simply tedious. It serves no good purpose.
I'm sure I'll have a moment of sentimentality when they finally stop. And of course there's a much larger readjustment required with menopause, the acceptance of myself as middle-aged, as ageing, as no longer young. I think that's been gradually creeping up on me since I was 45, though. Maybe the fact that I'm now so impatient with having periods indicates that I'm close to accepting it.
I have no particular worries about menopause itself. My older sister has had an easy time of it. My best friend, although she had hot flushes for a number of years, wasn't overwhelmed by them. All the women I know who've had hysterectomies had fibroids and were in their 40s. In fact, come to think of it, I don't know anyone who's had a truly awful menopause. It can't be anything worse than the menstrual cycle itself throws at us, surely. After almost 40 years of hormonal ups and downs, I think I'll manage.