Restroom sinks

Heidi: I Just Want to Feel Normal

As she coped with perimenopause, Heidi’s wish list was short: She just wanted to be able to function and to feel normal. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask but given society-wide deficits in the understanding of menopause and how it affects women, getting to feel normal can seem like climbing Mount Everest. “It’s been seven years of perimenopause, and no one has shared their experiences with me,” said Heidi.

For Heidi, perimenopause meant periods that became so heavy that she had to wear two extra-super tampons and an overnight pad to deal with the flow. And she had to change her bulky protection every hour and a half or risk bleeding through her clothes.

It was emotionally stressful and there were practical challenges. “The tiny bins in the stalls of the shared office washroom could not nearly accommodate the garbage I produced,” she said. “I had to bring in my own garbage bags and wet naps. It was a nightmare on top of all my other symptoms.”

COVID19, the symptoms, the death of her mother and a lack of access to a family physician contributed to years of challenge in finding relief. However, last year she was able to get a family doctor who is supporting her to get back her health.

Heidi believes a few basic changes in the workplace would make a big difference. Adequate washroom facilities and being able to work from home one or two days a month when symptoms are at their worst would make a big difference.

But Heidi cites lack of information and understanding as the biggest issues. “There needs to be training and education for those in charge,” she said. Heidi believes better informed women, employers and doctors will better enable women to cope, lessening disruption and reduced productivity in the workplace.