Jessie's Perimenopause: Honest Insights from a Versalie Ambassador

By Christina Hanna, MPH, CHES • Published 11/20/2023

headshot of Jessie, a Versalie Ambassador who is experiencing perimenopause

The Versalie Ambassadors are a group of everyday people who are currently experiencing the ups and downs of the menopausal transition. They’ve been working with us to help build Versalie. Their experience and insights help us test our ideas, learn, and improve what we're creating. Their stories have the power to create real change.

We hope you see yourself in their stories — their symptoms, their highs and lows — and find that you’re not alone in this beautiful (but sometimes chaotic) phase of life.

Versalie Ambassador – Jessie, Age 49

Perimenopausal, started at age 48

9+ symptoms, including night sweats, trouble sleeping, brain fog, dry eyes, low libido, headaches, tingling in extremities, vaginal dryness, irregular periods

When and how did you first realize you were in perimenopause?

Last fall, it all came to light. My kids were starting back to school. I had just started back at a desk job after staying home as a mother for about 13 years. I was yelling at people, had a short fuse, not sleeping, blah, blah, blah, and just having to often apologize to my kids and my husband for losing my temper.

I was just chalking all this stuff up to being a busy mom, being tired, but then my husband looked at me and he was like, “Do you think maybe you're going through menopause?” And I was like, “What?!?!” I just kind of shook it off and walked out. Never had that crossed my mind. I mean, never. It wasn't even on my radar. But then I thought, “I guess I’m of the age...” and I started googling some stuff. And of course, you know, there hasn’t been a great menopause source, so I was pulling different things off the internet. I was like, “Maybe I am?”, so then I started paying more attention to just different things, different symptoms.

You mentioned a few of your symptoms. Can you talk more about them and how they’ve affected you?

It’s been about a year. Some of the first symptoms were night sweats. I wouldn’t have hot flashes in the daytime, just at night. At night, I just wake up, have boob sweat, I roll around, and then throw the covers off. And then 5 minutes later, I’m freezing and throw them back on.

I felt like a rotisserie chicken at night.

I started to not get much sleep. When your sleep is interrupted, everything's worse. It's interrupted by the night sweats and then I'm tired all day. And then when I go to lay down, I can't fall asleep. It's just funny how that little thing affects everything. I haven’t been debilitated and it hasn’t affected my routine, but I’m just more agitated and things like that.

Memory and brain fog have also been an issue. I can remember something from second grade, but if you ask me something from 2 days ago, I can’t recall anything. Also, my patience has just worn thin. I just don’t have any patience anymore.

I’ve given all this a justification. I would tell myself, “You’re so tired and you can’t sleep because you have 2 kids, and you just started a new job. You have no patience because you’re tired.”

I just learned that dry eye and headaches can also be menopause symptoms. For the dry eye, I was thinking, “I’ve worn contacts for 35 years, why is this happening now?”, but then I thought maybe it was because I was getting older AND had been wearing contacts for 35 years. And for the past 6 months, I’ve been getting low-grade headaches and just thought it was from looking at screens so much – my phone and at work. Those are two things that I’ve just been giving excuses for.

And I almost forgot, one other symptom is tingling in your extremities. Girl, I’ve been walking around, and my toes will just kind of go numb. Now I've got a desk job, which I haven't had in 13 years, and I'm just blaming it on sitting.

How many women are doing the same thing I'm doing — just justifying these things? It’s probably this, it’s probably that. And then to just now realize that these are all symptoms of menopause.

It's been liberating to learn about menopause and realize that it's not just me falling apart.

It's just part of the cycle and part of perimenopause, and this is to be expected. So, it's actually been kind of a relief to know that this is all falling under the same umbrella and that I can hopefully start doing research, empowering myself, and trying to find ways to help empower other people.

What have you tried to do so far to manage your symptoms? Is there anything you’d like to try?

One thing I’ve done is get a book on menopause. I’ve been reading about some natural things you can take. In looking for some of those more natural things, I found a menopause supplement and it contains 6-7 different things. When I looked at my book and the ingredient list for this supplement, it’s got all the things I’m looking for in one pill. So, I’ve been taking that pretty regularly since October of last year and it seems to help. I feel like I sleep better when I do take it.

Other than empowering myself, reading, and taking the natural things, I'm just trying to make sure that I exercise, take walks, move my body, and try and be mindful of what I'm eating. I mean, not all the time, of course. Just trying to do those things, but nothing over the top.

selfie of Jessie, a Versalie Ambassador on a walk to help care for your health during perimenopause

Have you talked to a medical professional about your perimenopause symptoms? How’d that go?

I just recently went to an OB-GYN appointment. Now that I’ve been learning more, I had so many questions to ask her. I'd never had that many questions to ask and I wrote them all down because I was excited to go in there fully prepared.

I felt like I was armed with better information to ask my doctor. I was the one who brought up low-dose birth control pills as an option. We discussed the pros and cons and I’m still deciding if I want to take them. She also told me there’s another doctor in the practice who specializes in menopause, and if I felt I needed someone else next year, then she would recommend her. So that made me feel good (especially because I was armed with the info that not all OB-GYNs are versed in menopause).

Did anyone talk about menopause growing up? Did anyone talk to you about menopause before it happened?

I just remember growing up, menopause was such a dirty word. I grew up in the South, and nobody really talked about it. I mean, they might make jokes about it. It just really wasn’t talked about. I never noticed it. Women who are experiencing it didn't talk about it. So it just never really was a thing.

I correlated it with old ladies — it's an old lady thing. When you're young you think that's never gonna happen.

Maybe that's why it never registered with me because I don’t feel like an old lady. I mean I don’t even know what being an old lady feels like.

My mom had a hysterectomy when she was around 35. So, I haven’t really used her as a resource because she had experienced it early and, I’ve felt a little uncomfortable talking to her about it.

Growing up, and even now, I think she would talk about it if I asked. She would probably love to talk about it. She came to visit a couple years ago and asked if I’d started menopause and if my daughter had started her period yet. It just kind of made me cringe. There's something about my mom and talking about it.

What role have your family, friends, and partner played in your menopause journey? Have you seen any changes in those relationships?

We live in a very active neighborhood, and I have lots of girlfriends. We do girls' nights and we're very close. Our kids have all grown up together. All of us, we'll talk about things, our symptoms or issues. Somebody will say ‘Oh, I’ve got a hot flash!’, and sometimes that leads to more conversation. Someone will start fanning themselves and then everyone else will kind of chime in, “Oh, well last night...” and give a little story. We might just talk about our experiences, but there's not really a deep conversation or asking, “Have you done anything to relieve it?” I might mention the menopause supplements I’m taking, but it's not really a deep conversation.

Until very recently, I didn’t even know that all those other things were even symptoms to talk about. So now just knowing what I know now, and the Versalie website, and being an Ambassador, I’m actually excited to go back and share with my friends.

I have a 9th-grade son and a 6th-grade daughter and while I haven’t talked to them about it specifically, they’ve noticed I’m more emotional. People always used to say, “I just watched a commercial and teared up” or “I would tear up in the grocery store”. Now I understand that. I just tear up or just get this sense of being on the verge of tears. And not even that they're bad tears, but just emotional, feeling things.

As I mentioned earlier, my husband has definitely been involved in my menopause journey — he's the one that brought it to my attention. I think maybe he realized something was going on because of my disinterest in sex. And I think he started doing his own research.

And in my mind, I was just thinking, “Oh, we've been married 23 years. We've been together for 25 years — that's just what happens. You know, I'm busy and I'm tired. There's always a justification for everything.

But that is my husband. He is such an amazing person. And it's not surprising that he did that. Because he wants to be there or be able to help. It’s embarrassing that he connected the dots before I did! I guess I just don't feel like I'm 48 now and that I'm ‘of that age’. But I guess I am.

Illustration by Naomi Likayi of Jessie’s perimenopause experience

What I wish I knew: What would you tell your younger self about menopause if you could go back in time?

Considering I wasn't told anything, I just wish that someone had pointed it out to me. My husband had to point it out to me. I would have wanted to know the signs, the symptoms, and that I should be my own advocate. Start doing some research or get a book. I mean, just anything to empower myself to understand what's going on.

Before starting perimenopause, I wish I would have known that there are so many other women going through this. It’s just been such a hush-hush topic, but now women are so open to wanting to discuss this and feel they’re being heard, and that other people can relate, offer advice, or just listen.

I wish I knew there was more of a community — a place to go to turn, where you felt welcome and had questions answered, and where you didn’t feel alone.

What advice would you give to others starting or going through the menopausal transition?

I would tell them, like I did, to get a book that has information so they can start educating themselves, understanding, knowing the symptoms. And maybe, look for some herbal remedies, whether it's pills or tea or whatever. Go ahead and start doing your own research before you go to the doctor. That way you’ll know what to ask your doctor and can manage the conversation.

It doesn't just happen. You just don't wake up one day with all these symptoms. They come on slowly, bit by bit, and you might justify them for other things. So, know the symptoms and see what you can do on your own before you have to seek help. 

What's an unexpected improvement in life now, as you’re aging and going through perimenopause?

I feel like now I'm becoming more intentional. I am intentional, but even more so now that there's just people pulling me from all sides. I feel like I'm more aware of my own feelings and stuff going on, and I’m more intentional about saying No. Last fall I was so crazy with my new job, and I had several trips planned. And this fall I've just been intentional with not overplanning my weekends, or our family's weekends. I've been trying to say yes to myself more.

One other positive is that I’ve found it more freeing to speak my mind, be true or honest, not be afraid to hurt someone's feelings. It's just empowering to be like “No” or whatever it is. This is who I am, and this is my choice. I feel like menopause also brings some sort of wisdom because it is a gift that we have aged to be able to reach this. I mean, it is a rite of passage.

a photo of Jessie, a Versalie Ambassador, enjoying hiking and being outdoors as way to care for herself during perimenopause

Why did you want to become a Versalie Ambassador?

Menopause isn’t something that’s really talked about. In my group of girlfriends, someone might joke that they’re having a hot flash, but as far as having tools to manage this or to have more open and frank conversations about menopause, that isn’t happening. So, it’s important for me to be a voice for other people to realize they can be empowered to learn and educate themselves on how to manage it.

What’s your favorite part about being an Ambassador?

This opportunity with Versalie has been amazing. It’s been very empowering. I’ve learned so much and met so many cool women. I can’t wait to share with others what I’ve learned.

What’s the biggest change you’ve made since joining as an Ambassador?

I think the biggest change since joining Versalie has been my attitude toward menopause. This has been a truly enriching experience. Since meeting the The Versalie Team and the other Ambassadors, I’ve armed myself with knowledge, resources, new friends, and the momentum to start a menopause revolution! It has been awesome to share this adventure with my friends and incorporate everything I’ve learned.

It’s amazing how women are ready and willing to talk about menopause, they just need an open forum to do it!

They are excited to talk and share with each other and it's been easy to facilitate these conversations.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about menopause that you think is critical to share with others?

The most impactful thing I’ve learned is that we need to educate ourselves on menopause. Knowledge is power. For the last few years, I've chalked little things up to getting older, juggling 2 active children, and just being overwhelmed. However, I have found that so many of my little things — little patience, lack of sleep, dry eyes, forgetfulness — are associated with menopause and it's not just me thinking I'm falling apart. So, knowing the symptoms and signs has helped me better navigate this journey.

Last Updated 2/28/2024


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