I was at a Halloween party, talking to a friend about aging. He mentioned that while men and women go through many similar things, women have a much more a concrete delineation as to hormonal shifts and changes. As in menstruation. Finite starting and stopping.
Well, at least the starting part.
When you're a teenager your period shows up. Unexpectedly. Usually without warning. Some girls gets cramps beforehand but most don't. Regardless of age, race, weight, hair color, sexual preference your period starts one day. Specific beginning. And that's that.
The other end of the spectrum is basically the opposite. Instead of a faucet turning from off to on, it's a slow, stop and go, erratic process that can last up to 12 years. A leak that shows up when you least expect it - sometimes a slow trickle, sometimes full force. What once could have been a regular cycle can disappear for months at a time or show up every couple of weeks. To be post menopausal means no period for an entire year so you wont know for sure that you're there until you're barely thinking about it any more.
Nothing like living with not knowing.
People tend to note the similarities of the beginning and end of menstruation: hormonal shifts, emotional changes, skin breakouts, a body getting used to a new way of being. But to me it seems the biggest similarity is the not knowing from before my period even started. Not knowing when it's coming. If it's coming.
I'm not there yet. My period arrives every 22/23 days. But I know eventually I'll be waiting. And wondering.