Are Women Irrational During Perimenopause?
Depending on whom you ask (usually men) the answer to this question might be “yes.” But, I have a real problem with that for a couple of reasons. First, as a woman, I find the suggestion that women who are suffering with hormone imbalance are irrational, as entirely sexist. Underneath that suggestion is also another insinuation: She has mental problems. I’m not too fond of that notion either.
On the other hand, as a woman who experienced severe mood swings during the worst of her perimenopause symptoms, I do recall feeling very out of control, and dare I say, at times, pretty unstable. When a woman is swinging from depression, to rages, to uncontrollable crying, and then back again, it’s easy to see why men, and perhaps even some women who have not suffered severely during perimenopause, might think she is irrational and mentally unstable.
So what is the correct answer to the question? Are women suffering with severe perimenopause symptoms irrational? I would have to say the answer is yes and no. It is true, and frankly, without dispute in my opinion, that when a woman is being thrashed about by hormones which are wildly out of balance, her moods, and therefore, her perspective on reality are severely affected.
In fact, most women will tell you, that when they are “feeling hormonal,” minor problems and everyday annoyances which might otherwise be seen as petty or insignificant, can appear to be far worse than they actually are. Her reaction to them might also be out of proportion as well. So in that regard, yes, it is not unreasonable to say that during the years of perimenopause, there are times when a woman is irrational.
But does this also mean then, that her entire perceptions of reality during perimenopause are irrational? No, absolutely not. I think it is more accurate to say that her perceptions of reality are perfectly rational; it is how she frames and responds to her perceptions that may be irrational.
I think an excellent example of something similar would be a crime of passion, which both men and women have been known to commit. In that brief moment, when one loses control and reacts from a place of extreme emotion or passion, the behavior is irrational. However, that is not to say, the event which preceded the irrational behavior was necessarily based in irrational perceptions of reality.
In the many dialogues I have with men on this subject, far too many of them have a tendency to suggest, either overtly or subtly, that women who are in perimenopause are irrational and unstable. While I can certainly sympathize with their frustration and confusion with perimenopause, and the affect it has on women, these types of assumptions and beliefs serve no good purpose but to further alienate men and women; and they certainly do nothing to improve communication or facilitate mutual understanding.
Unfortunately, the battle of the sexes has enjoyed a long and rich tradition in Western culture, and I do not suppose that I will be the one to bridge the divide. But here’s hoping that if I keep talking, I might be able to influence the next generation.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.