While research about aging and autism is lacking, what we do know is that during perimenopause women on the spectrum can see an increase in:
- hypersensitivity (including achy joints and sensitivity to noise, temperature and pain)
- muscle aches
- foggy thinking, forgetfulness and other executive function challenges
- trouble sleeping
- difficulty with temperature regulation
- decreased libido and vaginal dryness
- weight gain
- food cravings or pica (craving inedible items such as chalk, paper or dirt)
- nausea during menstruation
- irregular periods
- thinning hair in some areas, and thicker hair growth in others
Great! (Sarcasm) Just what we need. We already have a bunch of these issues with Autism, to start with — hypersensitivity (including achy joints and sensitivity to noise, temperature and pain), muscle aches, foggy thinking, forgetfulness and other executive function challenges, trouble sleeping, difficulty with temperature regulation, seizures, migraines, irritability, depression, anxiety — and then “Mother Nature” throws us another curve ball that can make everything spike even more.
Actually, the fact that there’s some overlap might work in our favor. If, that is, we’ve developed coping strategies to deal with these things. When you’ve already been dealing with hypersensitivity, muscle aches, foggy thinking, forgetfulness, irritability, depression, and anxiety, you have some tools you can use when menopause amps up the experience.
On the other hand, it can be incredibly disorienting, because — if you’re like me — you have your supports in place, you have your tips and tricks in place, and you come to rely on them to be, well, reliable.
But then, suddenly, they aren’t. And everything can get plunged into chaos — or at least, it feels that way. All the old expected results that you’ve come to rely on, as a result of doing things a certain way, are no longer predictable. And that’s about the worst thing you can do to an Autistic person — take away the predictability that they’ve invested countless hours in developing.
Same thing holds true for husbands/partners of Autistic women going through menopause — after so many years of acclimating and finding a balance, suddenly — wham! — everything gets up-ended, and the woman you knew and loved has morphed into something/someone … unexpected.
For anyone, it’s a challenging turn of events, but for Autistic folks and/or their partners, it’s a whole other flavor of woo-hoo.
woo . effing . hoo .
So, I’m gonna take my woo-hoo self off to bed. I had to work today (Saturday) when I should have been resting / reading / sleeping / hiking in the woods. I resent that. But at least I’m through menopause.
On my worst days, I give thanks for that.
Stay safe, everyone. It’s a jungle out there (and in here).