Over the past couple of years I’ve been “enjoying” a journey through menopause. Yeah, it’s a hoot. All the symptoms of PMS, plus fuzzy head, weight gain, night sweats, the works.
I’ve been prescribed HRT and I’ve been reaching out to older friends for advice, because there’s a lot about this I don’t know. Most of my friends have gladly offered support, however one woman (a friend of a friend) looked at me and said, “Menopause? You’re too young for that.”
I assured her I was not, and left the conversation, but really, is that a helpful thing to say? Yes, I know I’m too young for menopause. Add it to the list of things my body’s given up before its time. And then ask me how I feel about the possibility the rest of me might be aging faster than it should too. Does this ever end?
As you may have guessed, it’s Whiny Wednesday. If you’re not yet hearing this about menopause, in what other ways have you been dismissed?
For more about the realities of dealing with menopause and infertility, please check out Mali’s excellent series on her No Kidding in NZ blog.
Menopause isn’t spoken about nor discussed enough, it’s like anything to do with ‘ladies’ and their nether regions – we are silenced or it’s not deemed ‘polite’ to talk about these things and it’s so important that we do, so other younger women know what to expect. Doctors seem quick to dismiss symptoms when you’re younger too as I experienced. Other people have been dismissive of me when I’ve been sat fanning myself having yet another hot flush and have been disbelieving when I’ve told them what’s going on.
I have been peri-menopausal since my late thirties and now as I am actually going through the menopause, I find what annoys me is doctors cannot offer me anything to manage the symptoms I’m having (hot flushes, night sweats, fatigue, joint pains) they only offer HRT which I can’t take due to other medical reasons. It also took them a long. long time to decide I was actually peri-menopausal and I had to literally fight to be referred for blood tests to determine this.
This has made me think why do drs only offer HRT instead of ways to live with and actually manage the symptoms of menopause (and it’s something I’ve mentioned elsewhere).
For me personally, I’ve looked into essential oils to help with these symptoms and so far, so good I’m really pleased with the results I’m having. If HRT works for anyone, that’s also great because we ladies need whatever it takes to get us through this!
Menopause is yet another taboo subject, just like being CNBC.
Jane P (UK) says
Quite agree with everything here – there is not enough discussion on this. I think its particularly hard for us too, going through menopause when we didn’t get to experience motherhood. I was diagnosed peri at the start of my 5th IVF cycle when I was 44 years old – there was no discussion on coping with it then or since. Friends have only ever suggested HRT which does not suit me due to the years of on off HRT for IVF cycles I just don’t want to take it. My husband has been the only person who has talked through coping strategies (taking spare underwear and stripping off in the ladies at work so that I don’t sit and shiver after a hot flush); this worked to a point but with hot flushes coming every 30 mins at their peak it got very tiring. Since the lockdown I have been working from home and that has been most helpful in that I can strip off whenever i need to! We really could do with more stories on this – to help cope and shift this taboo. Many of my friends have been very open with their fans at work, which is great – I have been far more discrete – only because I am a bit vein and don’t want people guessing I am older than they thought (52 years)! I have had hot flushes of notable worth for 4 years on and off but think they are finally easing! For night time – I have been disturbed up to 3/4 times a night at the peak but able to fall asleep again by having a bed in the spare room with the window left wide open no matter what the weather. This phase has passed for now … Please keep talking and sharing on this topic. We need to remind each other that symptoms do eventually ease.
I’m similar to you Jane, in that I was thrust into peri-menopause after a fresh cycle of IVF killed off one of my ovaries and the other ovary only produced one egg. Did the drs give me any advice? No, but they offered more expensive and invasive IVF treatments which I declined because once your egg reserve is gone, it’s gone – and I didn’t know then what I know now which is IVF can have a significant impact on you and cause premature menopause.
I’m also 52 😉
I have an electric USB fan I take into work with me, it’s quiet and it’s discreet, thought I’d mention as it might be something you could make use of, I purchased this from Amazon.
I have a large remote controlled fan at the end of my bed facing me and when I wake up too hot I just switch it on until I’m cool again. I can’t really keep windows open at night during this time of year as I suffer with hay fever.
If I get too hot at work or when I’m out and about I keep a rollerball vial of peppermint essential oil diluted with fractionated coconut oil to dab on the back of my neck, elbows and wrists or forehead, it’s naturally cooling. I’m not a fan of the smell but as it’s diluted it’s not so bad and it’s really helped me. I’ve even rolled it over the soles of my feet and that’s helped too!
Another thing I’ve done is go low carb – I don’t eat rice, pasta, bread or potatoes any more and this has really helped managing the symptoms of menopause – bloating, IBS, weight gain. Now, if I could re-grow the thinning hair that would be great lol x
Jane P (UK) says
Thanks Bamberlamb – this is really helpful – I will definitely try the peppermint/coconut oil. I will also look at cutting down carbs, hadn’t thought about any possible links there (I do adore bread though)!
Thanks again for sharing your experiences with menopause – I find it a double edged sword most days!
Glad I could offer some help Jane… the low carb diet has really worked wonders for me, I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s not as hard as you think and you do eventually realise you don’t need bread. Low carb basically means low sugar so you can eventually add a little sourdough bread back into your diet, but just one slice occasionally, that’s all I permit myself. I make soda bread and slice and freeze that too for the occasional slice here and there. It’s not all about protein either, it’s about getting the right amount of fats and carbs from vegetables, so from a natural source and enjoying what you eat, making your own things from scratch and not having additives in foods which can make you crave sugary things, bread, etc. I do still have hot flushes but mainly during the night time now, hence the Very Large Fan pointed at me at the end of the bed 😉 xx
I was peri-menopausal most of my 30’s, periods done by 38. one of the reasons I couldn’t have children I am sure. and a thing my doctor couldn’t be bothered to warn me was even possible when I was in my 20s and 30s complaining about how terrible my periods were. Pain? oh, that’s “because I was a girl” to quote the doctor in the ER when the pain sent me there in an ambulance… Irregularity? oh, that’s you bodies version of regular, I guess. whatever. Who cares. Well… I cared… but that didn’t matter.
On a plus side, at least I had an easy menopause. My periods actually got lighter and lighter and less and less, heck, I had all my pain and trauma in my 20’s. By my mid 30’s I was only having 1 period a year. My womanhood just quietly slipped away. My doc really didn’t care much. I got sent for a few inconclusive tests and I wish I’d fought for my health care harder, but I was also dealing with heart surgery and a major car accident’s brain trauma at the same time, so….
So I need to forgive myself for what I wasn’t able to do. I wish I had the energy to yell at my stupid doctors and say to them, “don’t EVER treat another woman the way you treated me. DON’T EVER!” but right now, I am way too tired. maybe someday… :'(
Jane P (UK) says
So sorry to hear of all you have been through – you have done so well coping with everything. Quite understand the inability to stand up and fight for better treatment when you are utterly depleted. Concentrate on taking care of you. I’ve looked back a few times, wishing I had asked more questions, fought harder for treatments/answers. We mustn’t do this to ourselves – we trusted the doctors and we did everything we could.
Thinking of you, Jane
Jane, Thank you so much!
We learn to grieve, and part of that IS acknowledging that we did what we could with the information we had at the time! I can’t beat myself up for what I didn’t know (tho sometimes I try…) and I strive to take better care of myself. And I am so grateful for a site like this – I don’t feel so alone! <3