I first heard about menopause not long after I got my period at 11 years old.
I was lying in a ball of pain and tears on the bathroom floor at home, screaming at my mum to make it go away forever. That's when I learned that when a female reaches a certain age (typically between 45 and 55), her period becomes less and less until it completely stops, and she will no longer be able to have babies.
This was seriously the extent of my menopause knowledge, and at the time, I had no interest in furthering my education on it because at 11, 'old lady' things were so far away.
But now, at the ripe old age of 40, menopause isn't so much of a fairytale but more a question of when.
And it was at my 6-week post-hysterectomy appointment last year that I learned that menopause is only the final destination.
It's what comes before it that needs to be dealt with first: Perimenopause.
"Sorry, peri-what?" were my exact words to the surgeon as he explained to me what a woman's body goes through before the 'big change.'
I lightly dabbed my forehead as a montage of night sweats and bloating flashed before my eyes. Were the things I had felt before symptoms of perimenopause? And if they were, are they normal? I had all these questions, yet not enough time to get the answers. So, post-appointment, I did some research about my newfound medical obsession, and I discovered that I was not the only one who had questions.