Cheery topic, eh? If you haven't experienced peri menopause (all the changes before actual menopause when your period stops forever), or if it all went smoothly for you, this post probably won't be very interesting to you…unless you have female friends in their 40s and 50s. In which case, my upcoming series of posts on the topic may be enlightening and even helpful.
Looking back, I probably started the process when I was around 50, maybe 51. At first, it seemed pretty easy to the point that I wasn't even sure I was in peri menopause. Some late periods and some changes to them, getting hot flashes when I drank red wine, sometimes feeling irritable. But I think I know what a frog in a pot coming to boil feels like — at first, you think, “I can survive this,” but eventually it becomes “Kill me now, please” and you have no idea what to do.
It took a full-on boil before I decided, after months of saying I'd go see a doctor, to actually make a doctor's appointment. I was a wreck. Snapping at my husband, crying for “no reason,” getting incredibly pissed off over things I could normally handle, tired all the time, and — worst for me because I run my own business — the absolute inability to put two thoughts together for more than a few seconds. After canceling more than one client appointment that week, I finally made the doctor appointment.
Dr Sara, My Hero
When the receptionist asked me who I wanted to see, a male or female doctor, I started crying and said, “Whoever will listen to me.” A few days later I met Dr Sara, my new hero. Again, I started crying as soon as she asked how she could help, but I'd had enough presence of mind to make a list before coming in. This is what I told her I'd been experiencing a lot of, especially in the last couple months:
Mood swings, angry all the time or depressed/crying, snapping at my husband, forgetful within seconds, either can't think straight or can barely think at all, fatigue, sleeplessness, hot flashes and night sweats, constant overeating (although I know I have issues with emotional eating, so it could be 100% that since all of this was making me so emotional), vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, muscle aches, went from running regularly to rarely exercising or even leaving the apartment.
By the end of our 30-40 minute conversation (I've never had a doctor spend that much time with me in the U.S.), I had two prescriptions and hope for the future. 😀
I'd also decided, despite growing up in a culture that insisted “you don't talk about those things” (meaning anything related to women's health), I would start blogging about the information I find and sharing what I learn on my own journey. Five years ago, when I started Googling anything about peri menopause, I mostly found articles written by male, white, American doctors that generally concluded with “don't worry, it should only last five to ten years.” :-O Seriously?!
But now I'm finding a lot more women, female scientists, and even a few white, male, American doctors 😉 are providing helpful information to help women (half the population of the world!) regain the healthy life they had before the hormonal changes. My journey won't be the same as yours, but I hope I can at least point you to some of this helpful information…and help you not to feel the embarrassment I've felt most of my life when talking about female health.
Watch this space for links! And talk about it with your girlfriends! (Or your wife or your sister or your mom!) There's no reason for this topic to be something hidden in the dark nor for anyone of any gender to feel embarrassed to talk about it.