Whatever your feelings on the Sex And The City reboot there was one scene that got us thinking about those people who claim to never experience any symptoms of menopause. As Charlotte, Carrie and Miranda met up for brunch and discussed menopause, we really empathised with the latter two women, as Charlotte claimed to have gone 4 months without a period or any menopause symptoms.
In the course of boasting about this accomplishment, she made Carrie and Miranda feel awful about the symptoms they had experienced, and even made them feel old by claiming to have been menstruating well into her mid 50s.
So, when Charlotte experienced a flash period while wearing a white jumpsuit, we had to stifle a little giggle as her friends came to her rescue. This really highlights the way that everyone experiences menopause differently, and that you can go for months without bleeding, thinking you're finally free of pads, tampons or cups, only to find that your period has arrived totally unannounced. It's like having a houseguest who turns up out of the blue and expects to be waited on for a week; a major inconvenience if you haven't got any sanitary products to hand.
The truth is that menopause isn't something that happens “just like that”, it's a process that goes on for many years. In fact, women are not considered to have gone from perimenopause to actual menopause until a full year has passed without menstruation. Charlotte thinking she had suddenly entered menopause (just like that!), only to be tripped up by a flash period, is something that most of us can relate to.
The change in hormone levels can cause this breakthrough bleeding even when we have stopped ovulating, so having a period during perimenopause doesn't necessarily mean you are still fertile. These irregular periods can happen every couple of weeks or every few months, so your period tracker app won't be much help here. Because you won't have a normal cycle, you may not get the mood swings or pre-menstrual pains that tip you off to the impending arrival. With no warning signs you can get caught totally off guard.
Women whose irregular cycles cause frequent bleeding could consider investing in some period underwear to wear just in case. These absorbent knickers make menstruating much less of a chore and can even deal with a little bladder incontinence, so they're worth looking at in menopause as a way of dealing with two symptoms in one product. We really like ModiBodi products which are worth checking out!
One of the great things about being a woman though is that there is always someone with a pad or tampon, or who will get one for you when you're caught off guard. The emotional impact of flash periods can be considerable however, especially if you have made your peace with entering menopause and have perhaps even begun to welcome it. It's worth keeping in mind that one of these periods will be your last, and that everyone will experience these unexpected bleeds. It's also a great excuse to treat yourself to some chocolate – your womb may be shedding its lining, but there's always a silver one to be found!