Our Bodies, Our Blog

The Very Early Perimenopause: What We Can Learn from Dr. Jerilynn Prior’s Research

By Guest Contributor |

by Nina Coslov

In my early 40s, I started noticing changes in my body. A once great sleeper, I was now waking at 2 a.m. – often with lots of energy and sometimes with anxiety. I’d be awake for about 3 hours before I could get back to sleep. Around the same time, premenstrual breast tenderness returned — something I hadn’t experienced since my 20s, before I had children. Not long after, I’d notice from time to time a pervasive edginess, a revving — an energetic feeling, but not a positive one! And I felt like I couldn’t cope as well as I used to. 

When I mentioned this new set of symptoms to my primary care provider, she asked about my period and noted my age. I was 42 and still getting regular periods. It wasn’t hormonally related, she said, and offered me one medication for sleep and another for anxiety. Several months later I ran these same symptoms by my ob-gyn at my annual visit – same questions, same response.

Being told my experience wasn’t related to something biological made me question myself and what might be happening in my life to cause this. Nothing had changed. It didn’t make sense. I was determined to get to the bottom of it. I am one to share and talk to others, to question the status quo and dig into the scientific research. So that’s what I did. 

Along the way, I found the work of Dr. Jerilynn Prior, an endocrinologist who founded the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR). Her research on perimenopause shows that many women experience changes in flow, fertility, sleep, mood, cramps, night sweats and headaches while they are still menstruating regularly. As I read more about CEMCOR’s research and about the experiences of other women in Dr. Prior’s book “Estrogen’s Storm Season,” I found validation for what I was experiencing.

I knew that I was not the only one having a hard time finding good information about perimenopause and menopause, and I wanted to find a way to share, in easy to understand language, what I had learned. I sent Dr. Prior a very long email, explaining that I thought there was an opportunity to create an online resource for women — like me — who experience the effects of changing hormones before their cycles are irregular. Lots of women do not know what to expect or what is normal, and they aren’t getting support or evidence-based information from their healthcare providers. That email was the beginning of a discussion that eventually led to the creation of Women Living Better, a resource that demystifies the menopause transition.

The site, informed by data and research, validates the wide array of physical and emotional changes women may experience. It emphasizes a key message of Dr. Prior’s: that symptoms often begin before periods are skipped and cycles become irregular. The site allows women to gather and share data with other women, so we can learn from each other’s experiences, find support, and know we are not alone.

Dr. Prior was recently in Boston, where she gave a talk about the very early perimenopause at Tufts Medical Center.* You can view a video of the event below:

I hear every day from women that are grateful to have found Women Living Better. In turn, I am grateful to Dr. Prior — for her work, her ongoing encouragement and support, and her generosity with her time and expertise.

Nina Coslov is a co-founder of Women Living Better.

* The talk was organized by Our Bodies Ourselves board member Alex Spadola, who is an ob/gyn at Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Prior has shared her expertise in several editions of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”

Woman handing menstrual supplies to Colombian prisonersWoman handing menstrual supplies to Colombian prisoners

Dirty Business: Lack of Menstrual Equity in Colombian Prisons

By Guest Contributor |

By Charlie Ruth Castro

Lee este post en español

Let’s talk about menstruation – a natural and necessary process among women, but one that we have been culturally taught to hate, hide or even make fun of.  Also, let me talk about a dirty business perpetrated by certain officers from INPEC, the Colombian national institution in charge of penitentiary policy. In many prisons, INPEC has routinely failed to supply adequate menstrual products for the female prison population.

Being deprived of ways to deal with bleeding is outrageous, … More

Woman handing menstrual supplies to Colombian prisonersWoman handing menstrual supplies to Colombian prisoners

Negocio Sucio: Falta de Equidad Menstrual en las Cárceles Colombianas

By Guest Contributor |

By Charlie Ruth Castro

Read this post in English

Vamos a hablar de menstruación, el proceso más natural y necesario para la buena salud reproductiva entre las mujeres, pero aquel que culturalmente nos han enseñado a aborrecer, ocultar o incluso a hacerle burla. Y por otro lado voy a hablar de un negocio sucio perpetrado por ciertos funcionarios del INPEC -la institución nacional a cargo de la política penitenciaria- en muchas de las cárceles de Colombia: el desvío de presupuestos para el suministro de toallas higiénicas … More

text: The fight to take back our genestext: The fight to take back our genes

Congress Wants to Give Companies the Right to Own Our Genes

By Guest Contributor |

by Lori Andrews

Six years ago, on June 13, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in AMP v. Myriad took a great step forward for women’s health by unanimously ruling that human genes could not be patented. Now a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives have released a bill that would allow companies to own our genes once again.

Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides that any patent system must “promote progress in science and the useful arts.” But patents on genes do not promote the … More

“Simone de Beauvoir alone would never have gotten me from intellect to action”

By Guest Contributor |

Note from OBOS co-founder Judy Norsigian: After publication of my reflections piece in the June 2019 issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), I received this wonderful email from Kay Johnson. Her story reminds us all once again of how ONE life experience (reading a book/having a terrific teacher or mentor/participating in an eye-opening social justice action/etc.) can change the course of our lives and bring us into partnership with others also committed to racial, economic and social justice for all.

I am … More

Refusing to Be Silenced: Federal Gag Rule an Active Threat to All Who Care about HIV

By Guest Contributor |

by Anna Forbes

On April 23, Judge Michael McShane of Federal District Court in Oregon issued a preliminary injunction against a federal “gag rule” written to forbid health care providers from even talking about abortion to patients who have questions about it.

The two parallel suits before him were filed by the American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood of America, and a coalition of over 20 states (along with numerous other plaintiffs) that oppose this gag rule.

Scheduled to go into effect on for May 3, the rule … More

“A Female Body in this Specific Moment”: Our Bodies Ourselves Exhibition

By OBOS |

As the 50th anniversary of the first edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” approaches, a New Haven museum has launched an exhibition featuring art inspired and informed by the book.

The exhibition, also titled Our Bodies Ourselves, features a variety of media created by more than 70 artists. The works are on display at the Ely Center of Contemporary Art through April 10.

A sack that hangs with the video from “Gestation” Photo: Lucy Gellman

The exhibit includes participatory installations like Megan Shaughnessy’s video work, which … More

three early teenage girls laughingthree early teenage girls laughing

Gender-Inclusive Puberty and Health Education is Life-Affirming for All

By Guest Contributor |

by Joel Baum and Kim Westheimer

A fifth-grade student walks into their first-ever puberty education class. They look around the room: maybe they feel like everyone else has already developed in ways they haven’t. Maybe they wonder why they already have characteristics a person of their gender isn’t “supposed” to have for a few more years. Or maybe they feel like they just can’t identify with lessons that should be giving them vital information about puberty and health.

Indeed, most puberty education classes omit foundational issues … More

Cervical Cancer Prevention posterCervical Cancer Prevention poster

Cervical Cancer Prevention: What You Can Do

By Guest Contributor |

by Gary A. Richwald, MD, MPH

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. More specifically, January 21-27 is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, and for good reason: nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than 4000 of them will die from it. Luckily, this form of cancer is now largely preventable. Women can take steps to reduce their chances of contracting human papillomavirus (HPV), a widespread virus that can cause pre-cancerous changes in the cervix.

How Does Cervical Cancer … More

headshot of Dr. Constance Chenheadshot of Dr. Constance Chen

Breast Reconstruction Options: What’s Best for You?

By OBOS |

Some women decide to forego reconstruction and instead “go flat.” Read more->Women with breast cancer who undergo mastectomies often face difficult decisions about breast reconstruction. The first is whether or not to undergo reconstruction; the second, if reconstruction is chosen, is what kind of reconstruction to have?

Learn more about the risks of breast implants and the need for better research ->Breasts can be rebuilt using implants — either saline or silicone — or they can be rebuilt using autologous tissue, which means tissue … More