Menopause

For the mature women in my audience, and maybe the younger women who have something truly wonderful to look forward to, lol, here is my menopausal experience, brought to you today, on my 49th birthday.

I started menstruating at 11.5 yrs old. My periods were extremely painful. I was diagnosed with dysmennorhea, which is a fancy term for painful periods. Every month I was huddled up somewhere during the first day, just wanting my mother to give me advil, and sleep.

After a few years, around 15.5, I became sexually active and my mother arranged an appointment to put me on birth control with the goal of regulating my painful periods as well as preventing pregnancy. What a smart mom eh?

I took the pill Ortho Novum 7/7/7 until I was in my early 20’s and it did help and my painful periods did not return.

When I was 29 I had a major mountain bike accident and injured my spine very badly. I had several surgeries and it was during this time that it was discovered I had inherited endometriosis from every female relative on my mother’s side. I had keyhole surgery to remove it and I had one of my ovaries cauterized because it bled too much during ovulation. It was one of those ‘fixes’ the surgeon did while she was operating.

I even got to see the VCR tape of my surgery, my ovaries, the spots of endo she removed, which was really cool.

The endo surgery helped me a lot. I was fine for many years until now, until menopause.

I’ve gone almost 3 months without a period until a few days ago. I was having ovary pain a week prior to finally menstruating that went away overnight but when I finally got the damn thing, it reminded me of being a young girl again with dysmenorrhea. The pain was overwhelming. Even a huge dose of Advil didn’t really take down the pain as much as I thought it would. For 3 days I’ve bled like a red river, which is very abnormal for me.

It is starting to slow down now but the pain of it really was overwhelming. I have heard that many women feel similar symptoms to what they felt when they first got their periods in their adolescence. I suppose I’m experiencing this as well.

I turn 49 today. I suppose that’s right on time to be having these kinds of symptoms. I’m also having horrible hot flashes and night sweats. I’m tired too.

So far I have refused to take HRT. I have heard from other women who were on HRT that they get used to it and it was hard for them to come off after the mandatory 5-year limit.

I really don’t want HRT. I do want some pain relief though. I find Advil good for most things but this time, it didn’t work as well as I wanted.

I hope this doesn’t happen again. I hope my period either stays gone and doesn’t come back or it stops being so damned painful. It’s hard not knowing when it will hit you! It’s like a guest that drops in that you can’t tolerate for more than 2 minutes. It hides, and waits until you’re feeling home-free, that you won’t get another one, and then it strikes.

If you’ve been through menopause, what was it like for you? What age did you start having symptoms?

When you get older, birthdays sort of lose their significance. You acknowledge them but you wish you were 21 again. I’m in the very middle of my life.

I planned on having an AMAA on Youtube but that won’t happen today. Moving forward I’m still thinking about what to do. I must host my own videos and pay for it and yeah, pass that onto my audience. There’s a reason I never put ads on my videos. I didn’t want to set up a Patreon. I didn’t want to do it that way.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Menopause

  1. I am sorry you are going through all that pain. I was lucky, I guess, that I never had much in the way of “female problems” so far in my 63 years. I would get an occasional yeast infection, but that was it. My periods were almost always uneventful and were regular almost all the time.

    I never did go on HRT. I couldn’t afford it, since during part of my menopause I didn’t have health insurance. I didn’t need it anyway. I wasn’t severe enough to warrant it. I had hot flashes only at night for a couple of years, night sweats for a few years after that. I had the thickened waist thanks to hypothyroidism and lack of estrogen (I will need to be checked for my thyroid when I finally get Medicare in a year-and-a-half). The worst was occasional brain fog and having trouble concentrating (I am mostly over that now). I started going through the change at around age 47, and it lasted until perhaps 52 or so. My last period was at age 51, which is the average age for women. I “flooded.” I had two solid weeks of a very heavy period, then two weeks I had no period, and then two solid weeks of a period. After that, never again. This was in April of 2006. I was older than most young girls when I had my first period, at 14 1/2 years of age, in June of 1969, shortly before I entered high school.

    I think for me the easiest part of menopause was not having some entitled dude around whining about “needing” sex and all other kinds of attention. Most women are not that fortunate. They are stuck with MANopause on top of going through menopause. So many articles directed at women about menopause mentioned how men are affected, specifically husbands. I think a lot of women go on HRT because they are afraid the sexual decline that inevitably happens with aging will cause their husbands to dump them.

    Happy birthday, Mancheeze.

    • Yeah, like you, I’ve only had a few yeast infections and it was due to taking a course of antibiotics. The cost of the anti fungal creams here in Canada are $20 bucks a course. That’s the cheapest.

      I remember going to all the women’s centres looking for it b/c I was too poor to afford it. I ended up using an olde home remedy for it, until I scraped up enough to get the cream.

      I don’t think I could handle a man having MANopause, which as you say, is just some dude hanging on you every moment for sex when you feel like knocking him out. LOL

      Thanks for the birthday wishes. To me, it’s just a birthday, a small marker in the overall grand scheme of things.

      I’m having the heavy period now too, well heavy for me, which is four days of really heavy and lots of pain.

      I don’t want HRT because I’ve heard women get used to having it and don’t ever want to stop it. I’d rather just tough it out.

      All my maternal relatives, well my mom, my mom’s sister and so forth, have either PCOS or endo. It’s genetic.

      Oh how my mother suffered. I remember her doubling over and she was married with two young girls to care for(me and sis)! Tough woman, my mother.

      In my mother’s day, there was no good research on endo and the male gyno’s just gave women total hysterectomies. My mother, goddess bless her, told these male doctors there wasn’t a fucking way in hell she was going to get rid of her ‘parts.’

      My mother had this intuition that getting rid of her ‘parts’ wasn’t good for her and that losing her ovaries would hurt her in the long run. This was before the internet. This was before we really knew how important ovaries were. So she bore down and suffered until she went through meno and of course, once the periods stop, endo stops.

      The worst symptoms are what you described as well, the hot flashes and the night sweats. I woke up two nights this week completely soaked in sweat, I mean, SWIMMING in it.

      My laundry bill is going to be huge now with all the blankets I’m soaking.

      I actually got quite scared last week when I had that nasty ovary pain. I got even more scared when I finally got the period a week later. I don’t have any female relatives around to help me through this. That is the biggest scary part, so I figured I’d write about it and ask other women out there who are going through or have gone through this.

      SIDE NOTE:

      For those of you who don’t know what endo is, it’s endometriosis. It’s a genetic condition. I’ll explain it in lay terms.

      While a female fetus is developing in utero, some of the uterine cells get distributed outside of the uterus where they’re NOT supposed to be. So you’ll get these endometrial cells on the outside of your uterus, sometimes on your intestines, sometimes at any random place within your body.

      These cells have a special ‘program’ to bleed when you get your period, and in someone without endo they are simply the cells the endometrial cells that line your uterus. They build up blood during your period cycle and then, when you get your period, they release the blood.

      If you have endo, it means the cells that are floating around in other parts of your gut bleed also. It’s essentially internal bleeding in the wrong places. Internal bleeding is incredibly painful. Imagine being stabbed and bleeding internally. This is what endo is like.

      Endo also can make ‘lesions’. These lesions are uterine tissue outside the uterus. Lesions can occur on your intestines and other places outside the uterus.Tissues can be adhered together, such as a lesion that sticks together parts of your intestines. Again, they bleed as ‘programmed’ to during your period and cause incredible pain.

      In the case of my mother above, once you go thru menopause these endometrial cells stop bleeding because there’s no more periods. Only when you get a period, do these cells bleed.

      Endo can be mild to severe.

      When girls first get their period and it’s really painful, this could mean endo. Diagnosing endo isn’t easy. In the 70’s and 80’s, the male medical model had no clue what endo really was and so they simply thought hysterectomies would ‘cure’ it.

      The only way to know if you have endo is through surgery. A surgeon will usually do a keyhole exploration surgery, which is a tiny incision over both ovaries and through your belly button.

      The surgeon will then have to literally LOOK for endometrial cells throughout your gut. If she finds them, she will first sample them and test them. If they are positive endo cells she will remove them.

      Sometimes, women need more than one surgery. These cells can be ANYWHERE in the body. Lesions can be removed as well.

      It’s not a perfect solution by any means but today’s methods are much better than a mere 20 years ago.

      If you think you might have endo, you will have to find a top endo surgeon and they are few and far between, although this is changing. With the advent of the internet, many women can find someone who specializes in this condition.

      However, many women do not have the medical insurance to deal with this condition. They are stuck, like my mother was, with a clueless male medical model and lack of insurance to cover such a highly specialized procedure.

      I was very lucky. I had immigrated to a country with single payer healthcare. I was also lucky in that I lived close to a city where one of the top female surgeons had her practice.

      I waited 1.5 months for the surgery and it was highly successful. The endo removed made a huge difference in my quality of life.

      Now that I’m in menopause, even if I probably do have more endo somewhere in my body, I’m willing to just stick it out. Once your periods stop, the endo stops.

  2. I started getting my periods at age 10. (This was in 1970). I always had a heavy flow and lots of pain with it my mother never let me stay home from school or any other obligation because of period issues. When I became sexually active, I didn’t tell her (we were Catholic). I had my first pregnancy at age 17 … I miscarried. Miscarriages were to be my lot … I have one grown son, who I almost lost when I was three months pregnant with him. I had a miscarried twins at 18 weeks pregnant when I was 39 years old & almost died. After that, I had my tubes tied. I had wanted them tied years earlier but I was told that I “might” want more children. YEAH I wanted more children but I didn’t want to die in the process!

    I had cancer of the cervix at age 35 & had to have laser surgery to fix that. By the middle of my 40’s, the fibroid tumors in my uterus were causing so many problems … ever heavy flows when I had my period & periods that were lasting two weeks at a time … that I had several surgeries to try to “fix”‘ this problem …. & then a full hysterectomy at age 49. Voila! No more periods! I was FREE!

    But … instant menopause. Hot flashes & weight gain. I researched HRT & asked my OB/GYN about it. He said (yeah, my OB/GYN is a man but the sweetest dude in the world) that HRT is bad for women & not to take it. It causes osteoporosis (the main problem) but there are others. So I have never taken it. & ya know what? Almost ten years down the road, the heat flashes are mostly a thing of the past.

    I had some other problems … thyroid cancer which required radiation … my hair falling out & then turning white. But that’s OK now too.

    It took me a while to get used to my crone self … I’m only 58, ya know. But now that I’m here I LIKE ME. I like my body, I like my hair, I like my face. I like everything about me. I don’t think I ever felt like this in my entire life.

    • Wow.
      Good for you that you like where you’re at now. Being older is something kinda nice.

      Also, the woman I know that went on HRT and didn’t ever want to go off it does have osteo. She’s very hunched for someone so young.

      I had no idea that HRT causes this. Well, thank you for the warning.

      Didn’t they just give you a D n C when you were bleeding a lot in your 40’s? I remember my mother having that done. Did they try it and it didn’t work?

      • Also, the trouble with HRT is, when you stop it all your symptoms come back! I decided to rather suffer when 50 than when 60… or 70 … Better get it over with when one is still young and strong (relatively speaking). I am now almost 60 and my symptoms are mostly gone.

  3. Happy Birthday, great to see you back too!

    I am turning 51 in a few months and like you, my menopause started at around 49yrs. It’s been almost 2 yrs since I’ve had a period and I can’t believe how free I feel. I don’t even have to wear panties (if I don’t want to) and not have to worry lol.

    I myself didn’t want HRT and I don’t blame you for wanting to take it either.

    I have been taking supplements for at least 5 yrs and my doc has given me a script for Progesterone cream (plant based). If you can afford it, check out Lorna Vanderhaeghe’s products for hormonal balance (either EstroSmart or MenoSmart), they did wonders for my symptoms (night sweats, fatigue etc). You may be able to get some other products that are similar for less money.

    Good luck with everything and remember: 50 is the new 40.

    Cheers.

  4. At the University of British Columbia there is the Center for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (aka CEMCOR). Their website has lots of good, science based information.
    https://www.cemcor.ca

    My story: early puberty, periods starting around age 11, heavy. Big for my age. Lots of bloating and breast tenderness. I went on the Pill when I was 15, as I was deathly afraid of getting pregnant. My first prescription wasn’t strong enough so I had breakthrough bleeding. My doctor didn’t say anything about this possibility, so I suffered through this for several months until I went to a different GP. There was one GP in my small town who would prescribe the Pill for teenage girls, and the other who would call your parents to tell on you. This asshole’s tactics certainly resulted in many teenage pregnancies, in girls who were attempting to take control of their fertility. Fucked up. I was on the Pill for 8 continuous years, took a short break after a breakup then went back on for a few more years until my boyfriend at the time got a vasectomy.

    In my late 30’s my periods got a little unpredictable. I also started having episodes of terrible, excruciating bloating. It kept me awake at night, it was so bad. I assumed it was food related, but no diet changes seemed to fix anything. At its worst I would look 5 or 6 months pregnant, and have at least two painful days a month. It felt like there was gas trapped in my intestines, rumbling around, but there was no relief, until it would just subside. I told my GP (a woman) who completely ignored this symptom and did not send me for any diagnostics.

    A few years later (early 40’s) I had this one period that just seemed odd. It started – but didn’t stop. I used a menstrual cup. It seemed like I was passing a lot more clots than usual. There was no chance of pregnancy. After 14 days of heavy bleeding, I called my GP. This time I was sent for a pelvic and transvaginal ultrasound. By this time I was bleeding so heavily that I was overflowing my menstrual cup in a couple of hours, and bleeding through my clothes in public.

    The ultrasound technician didn’t understand what a menstrual cup was, so it was left in during the first ultrasound. This skewed the results a little. I warned her that I was “really bleeding” and suggested she put down extra pads. She ignored me. Within 5 minutes my blood was dripping on the floor ! She was appalled when she turned the light back on. I tried to warn her…

    My GP was not super helpful. I did my own research, and was very concerned that what was going on might be endometrial or ovarian cancer. My GP wrote a prescription for Tranxemic acid, which helped the flow to slow down slightly. I was now so anemic that walking a couple of blocks made my heart pound, and as a pale person, I was looking pretty ghostly. I felt like my GP was NOT taking my concerns seriously. Online advice suggested that ibuprofen could slow down the bleeding a little but it didn’t. I started iron supplements. I was now bleeding so heavily that if I changed from a sitting to standing posture I would have to run to the bathroom with my hand between my legs, to help the maxipad I was wearing with the cup to not overflow. Like this would happen within the hour. I started keeping my camera in the bathroom. I would empty my menstrual cup into my bathtub, with a coin next to it for a scale reference and take photos. If I had to, I would show this to my GP ! Sheesh !

    I contacted an aunt I had not been close to, to get some family medical history. It turned out she had a hysterectomy in her late 30’s, and her daughters all had them by their 40’s. She could not tell me exactly WHY they had them – except that there had been heavy bleeding and that their doctors recommended it. My father had died from colorectal cancer, so I was concerned about genetic issues like Lynch Syndrome – which is linked to colorectal and ovarian cancer.

    The ultrasound results showed that my endometrium was much, much thicker than usual (endometrial hyperplasia) and that I had several cysts on my ovaries, but they seemed to be typical fluid filled cysts. I also had a fibroid.

    Meanwhile, the only thing my GP would offer me was a high estrogen birth control pill. As soon as I got home I looked them up. They were contraindicated for endometrial hyperplasia = WTF, GP ?

    During this time, I felt emotionally horrible. Exhausted, weepy, very worried about the possibility of cancer, insomnia. I was sent for an endometrial biopsy, done by an indifferent geezer gynaecologist. During the pelvic exam and biopsy he told me that things looked “grossly abnormal” and suggested that it could be adenocarcinoma, like this was just a casual thing.

    I felt madder and madder about the poor level of care I was receiving. I read as much as I could online about endometrial hyperplasia (hyperplasia = overgrowth). There were studies dating back to the 1950’s about endometrial hyperplasia. It seems to be a condition that is triggered when a woman is not ovulating. Ovulation tells the body to stop the endometrial thickening, and a period happens. Progesterone is released during ovulation. Girls that have just started menstruating often have this condition, as do perimenopausal women. Untreated, excess estrogen is linked to endometrial, ovarian and breast cancer. Endometrial Hyperplasia can progress from a benign to a cancerous condition, if it is untreated. I joined a women’s cancer forum as I waited for my my biopsy results. I also read that endometrial hyperplasia could be treated with oral progesterone. By this point I had been heavily bleeding for over a month. I read and read and printed out medical journal studies about oral progesterone.

    During this time I found CEMCOR’s site. It was a breath of fresh air – no woo – no “estrogen dominance” buzzwords. According to their research, perimenopausal women often have very high levels of estrogen – higher even than girls going through puberty. If this estrogen is not tempered by progesterone, things like heavy bleeding, sore breasts, insomnia, night sweats, depression and other worse outcomes like cancer. Their research implicated the high estrogen levels/low progesterone levels for heavy bleeding in perimenopause NOT FIBROIDS.

    Long story short – I brought the papers in to my GP, argued with her about progesterone as a treatment. She told me it would just make me “bleed and bleed”. At this point I had been bleeding like crazy for 53 days ! After three doses of generic progesterone my bleeding stopped. STOPPED ! I also started to feel normal again – outraged, cranky, indignant !

    My biopsy results came back – my endometrium was enlarged, but no abnormal cells had been found. Bonus: ASCUS – Abnormal cells of unknown significance – my lying ex had exposed me to a new strain of HPV ! I took progesterone as directed, and the follow up ultrasound (the one where they fill the uterus with saline) showed my endometrium was completely normal again.

    In retrospect: I think my extreme bloating was caused by ovarian cysts. These cysts can be caused by ovulation that is not completed – so the unreleased egg hangs around as a cyst. I was surprised that I had LARGE ovarian cysts that were coming and going – like 7 cm cysts. 8 cm is considered the size where surgical intervention is needed, as the weight of the cyst can create ovarian torsion and necropsy (very serious). Why didn’t my GP tell me this when I was first suffering with the bloating ?

    The weirdest thing is that throughout this, I was not having any period type cramping – even though I was regularly passing clots that were almost as large and thick as the palm of my hand.

    I think my GP dropped the ball (and always treated me poorly afterwards, like I was an insufferable and ridiculous patient). That geezer gynecologist makes a lot more money performing hysterectomies than writing a prescription for a generic medication. His advice that treatment for my condition was usually a hysterectomy seems outrageous. A two month generic prescription for progesterone cost about $ 32.00 ! And treated the underlying condition !

    CEMCOR has information about HRT. Their position seems to be that oral progesterone is not linked to negative health consequences, whereas estrogen only HRT is linked to an increase in breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. CEMCOR is big on “micronized” and “bioidentical” progesterone, which is typically a brand name medication called Prometrium. Its cost was about $ 175.00 for a three month prescription vs the generic which was about
    $ 32.00. (I am in Canada, like you)

    I tolerated the Pill, but I know many women who didn’t, so obviously results will vary. I don’t know if being on the Pill for 10 years+ helped my body , or worsened my hormonal balance.

    I don’t have endometriosis, so I don’t have any personal experience about how progesterone affects this ? I spoke with a neighbour, who revealed that she had terrible endometriosis, the usual frustration of being ignored by doctors for years. Oral progesterone didn’t make a dent in her suffering. She was then prescribed an GnR antagonist – ie Lupron – THAT Lupron, the allegedly benign puberty blocker for transing kids. She said Lupron made her feel exceptionally terrible and was not helpful at all. She finally had a hysterectomy with extensive surgery for the endometriosis. Her healing had complications, but after a full recovery she finally felt okay.

    Sorry – so long winded. I felt so in the dark while I was going through this.

  5. Welcome to cronehood!

    I hit menopause at 48, ten years ago. I had awful cramps starting in puberty, right up till the end. I was never diagnosed with endo but I knew some women with it and it was miserable for them.

    I sort of remember that my periods didn’t just stop all at once–they quit for about 3 moths, then I got a heavy, painful period as you described. I might have had one more period a few months later and then that was it.

    Since my periods always sucked I have(mostly) been relived to be done with that!

    My mother had breast cancer (and survived), and she had taken Premarin for about a decade, so my nurse practitioner strongly warned me against taking any systemic HRT. I decided to tough it out and I’m glad I did. Menopause is natural part of our lives and I wanted to embrace it as much as possible.

    Here’s a few things I learned. We’re all different but it might help…

    Menopause it the time for you to get serious about your self-care! Moisturize, exercise, stretch, relaxation, good diet, the whole nine yards.

    Moisturize! One of the biggest changes with menopause is everything dries out. EVERYTHING. Find good, natural products and use them every single day. (I love Dr. Bronner’s hand lotion.) I use moisturizing eyedrops before bedtime.

    Your vagina will dry out like a mofo. For me, the dryness has been my biggest quality of life issue: penetrative sex just isn’t comfortable any more, but thank goodness my husband is OK with that. The changes to your vagina aren’t just an issue of comfort: vaginal atrophy can lead to a prolapsed uterus. My NP recommended I use estradiol cream, which is technically HRT but since it is only applied locally it’s considered much safer than oral HRT.

    So along with the estradiol 2x a week, every night after my bath I apply pure organic almond oil to my nethers. It really helps keep me comfortable and the natural tocopherols are supposedly helpful.

    Night sweats & hot flashes suck, but they will lessen with time. Layer your clothing & make sure you can quickly strip down to a light shirt whenever one hits. Replace a single heavy duvet or quilt with a few/several light blankets so you can thermoregulate more easily.

    Your body will want to gain weight, so diet and exercise are more important than ever. I find that I really crave hard physical work/exerciase, as this helps both body and mind. Intense exercise is good–just watch your joints as they are dryer too and osteoarthritis is just around the corner. High intensity exercise will help prevent osteoporosis too.

    I learned this all piece by piece, because dontcha know menopause is one of those invisible woman’s things. But in short, I started to feel balanced in myself again after a couple of years, and by five years my body had pretty well adjusted to its new realty.

    Almost forgot… the brain fog! I find it harder to concentrate, and my memory is not what it once was. So cognitive changes can be a challenge, along with everything else.

    But along with all the physical and mental changes… comes the point in my life where now, since I’m and “old woman,” I just don’t have to give a frack if I don’t want to. A bit of freedom from some of the expectations… 😀

    Happy birthday, and good luck on this new stage of your life!

    • My skin is dry as fuck but it’s not helping that the radiator heating is on and it’s dry and warm outside too. I’ve had to buy sinus rinses because I feel like a damn desert in my nose LOL

      I must exercise more but it’s hard being disabled.

      I’ve never heard of estriadol cream. I should look into that and talk to my doc about it.

      The thermoregulation is the WORST of my symptoms. THE WORST. I also get much more painful periods too that just floor me with the back pain and cramps.

      When I get a hot flash, I want to jump in the cool shower and I CAN’T b/c I’m usually doing something else. I can’t stand this one aspect of meno.

      I do thank you for the tips and the birthday wishes. Be well. Oh and I love cronehood.

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