"Am I now certifiably menopausal?"
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I happened upon this newsgroup yesterday when I was searching the net for some kind of insight into what's happening to me this month and I would really love to hear if anybody else has experienced this. I'm 46, will be 47 in a few months. Up until spring of this year my cycles were 4 weeks like clockwork. Then suddenly they started going to 5. This month at right around 4 weeks when my period should have started I had what felt like truly terminal pms (I suffered a lot in my 30s but not in my 40s so that was unusual). I was horribly bloated, with lower abdomen and backache, depressed, irritable etc. and had been having extreme food cravings, mostly for sweets and carbos for a couple of weeks. The "pms" did not produce its normal end-product, and those particular symptoms, at least the cravings and depression, passed after a few days. Now I feel slightly nauseous, still achy in the lower regions, bloating comes and goes, breasts slightly tender but nothing like they were when I was pregnant. I feel suddenly self-contained. Don't want to see my lover. Don't want to be touched. Want to be alone. Not craving any foods. Instead of feeling depressed I feel calm and positive. Except for when I suddenly burst into tears. Excuse me? There is no sign of bleeding, not even spotting. I'm coming up on 6 weeks since my last period.
My first guess was pregnancy -- it's possible. But I've done two testss so far and they've both come up negative. Having read what threads there are on my news server, and found the list of 34 symptoms, several of which I've been experiencing for at least two years now and thinking "there's something wrong with me" and "why can't I get back to normal" (especially re: loss of energy and athleticism and struggles with weight gain in, you guessed it, the abdominal and thigh area).
Y'all have probably heard
this a million times but it's a first for me. Would somebody please
tell me "I've been there?"
|I only know now, looking
back, that those first bouts of waking up suddenly hot and opening the
window in the dead of winter in 1994 were the beginning of perimenopause.
Those electric buzzes in my head as I crossed the street in 1993 were also.
Those feelings of faintness, the rashes on my legs and arms, and the cessation
of sweating and the onset of "anxiety disorder" were all perimenopause.
These were all the first symptoms which I didn't know at first were menopause
related. I didn't one day have a textbook hot flash and know it. When the
waking up hot stopped abruptly for a year, I said to myself, "Ah, false
alarm, not in menopause yet." But it all came back with a terrific vengeance
leaving no doubt. It was after the hot flashes left and then came back
that I knew, and that was a year ago. So when the dr. I currently see tells
me "you're not in perimenopause, tests show," I hold him in great, great
contempt secretly while telling him to his face "I do admire and respect
your knowledge and opinion, and the test results, very much, but I would
feel so much better consulting with a woman gynecologist of about my age
who would have had personal experience......" Still placating and sucking
up to the male authority figures I was raised to revere even when they
are in total denial of what I know to be true. I'm like a pilgrim or a
soldier in a foreign land but at least I found this newsgroup and a *few*
books by other pilgrims.
|This is my first posting
to this NG. I need to know if anyone of you have experienced any
of these symptoms as a result of peri-menopause? Otherwise, I think
I may have some sort of emotional disorder. I apologize for the length
of this, but I have a lot I need to say.
I'm 43 years old, at home with 2 girls, 9 & 3 yo. For the last year of so, my sleep has becoming "lighter" in quality. I'd wake up easy, tend to wake up in the middle of the night and worry, not get back to sleep. It has, over the past week, developed into full-blown insomnia, where I simply can not get to sleep at all. I have occasional night sweats, once a month or so. During the day my face will feel hot for no reason, although I don't necessarily sweat. My face also seems to have acquired a permanent blush, my cheeks are pink (I'm quite fair) and I never need blush (makeup). I'm nervous, irritable, snap at my kids, burst into tears for no reason. I've always been in control of myself, sure I'd get nervous or anxious on occasion but always got over it in a day or so, and never had any trouble sleeping.. I had a high-stress job before kids and handled myself much better than now when I don't particularly have any time limits or pressures on me.
Other things; my ears ring, headaches from 3-7 days a week. My heart pounds. I get these strange "out of place" feelings occasionally, not quite full-blown dizziness but similar. I go to the bathroom constantly, particularly at night, and often leak urine. I still get periods, not quite as regular as they used to be, they vary by a couple of days when they used to be every 28 days by clockwork. My periods also are now heavy for 2 days, very light the 3rd day, then nothing. The bleeding seems to come in a rush, as opposed to spread out over several days, and are more painful then they've been since pre-kids.
I went to a regular MD, who gave me Ambien to sleep, lectured me about my BP, which was always low, now it's high. He said if I still felt like this in a week (this was 3 days) ago, I may have an anxiety disorder. He tested my thyroid and that was fine. Needless to say, the necessity of taking meds to sleep has fuelled my anxiety tremendously. I feel like I'm going in circles.
Does anyone think this could be hormonal related to peri-menopause? Does anyone else have, or had, symptoms like these. Can a gynecologist treat this? I know this sounds like a like I'm a hypochondriac or something. I really can take the physical symptoms, it's this mental stuff, the feeling I'm losing it for no reason. Do they start woman on ERT for this now?, or do I have to wait until I'm fully menopausal? I haven't been to a gyn for 3 years (bad I know), maybe I should make an appt?
I appreciate your taking the time to read all this!
I'm 43, too, and found my way to a.s.m. 1 ½ years ago when I had a "flooding" period that scared me so bad that I took a trip to the emergency room. After 5 hours there and a pregnancy test (I had had my tubes tied 16 years ago) I was told I was "just getting old". Not real helpful. The only symptom that I knew of that was associated with menopause was hot flashes so I started reading and found out I wasn't ill, alone or going crazy--just normal. That helped probably more than anything else.
I've gone through a lot of what you describe--insomnia (I just got up and watched TV instead of waking my husband up by thrashing around. I took my pillow and a blanket with me to the couch so that when I did fall asleep I just stayed there and didn't even try to make it back to my own bed. I drank chamomile tea. I read. I don't work or have little ones so I have the luxury of napping the next day); night sweats(I wore light weight pjs and kicked the covers on and off plus had the ceiling fan going); hot flushes, mostly on the right side of my face(I drank ice water); flooding periods with cramping and clots(Motrin helped a lot. I even start taking it the day before I think my period will start. The flooding is only one day now and the cramping is gone. I also gave up alcohol as I found this really turned on the flooding.); headaches-like a nail through my right eye(I cut back on caffeine and Equal. Big help.); foggy memory(I wrote myself sticky notes); slight dizziness on occasion(still coping with that.); feelings of dread and doom(usually accompanied by heart palpitations--this was really scary. Found it usually came close to the beginning of my period and on sleepless nights. I just imagined it as a hormone/adrenaline rush that was out of my control. Bad things didn't happen so I just tried to keep my mind busy with an old movie, a crossword puzzle or solitaire.) I have borderline high blood pressure and am overweight. I'm not big on exercise, but I do walk.
There is a history of breast cancer in my family so I am not inclined to take HRT. Also my mom and mother-in-law have chronic diseases and I have learned from them that no medication is without its own side effects. I had a gyn checkup so I know my thyroid's ok, no fibroids, no breast cancer--as they said, I'm "just getting old". And that's OK with me.
A big thanks to the regulars on a.s.m. I learned a lot from you--and not just about meno!
At around what age does it start? I'm 37 but........Is it all in my head?
37 sounds a wee bit youngish, but we's all different! You should probably discuss it with your gynecologist, but it sounds like perimenopause
You hit the nail on the head realizing there is no one-size fits-all menopause. And may I add that it may be better to first (second?) discuss meno issues with this newsgroup instead of your OBGYN as he/she may still be reading the old literature that says age 51 is "normal."
But over and over we have had women come to this group under age 40 wondering about their menopause signs and symptoms. As well as observing how often a woman who has had a tubal ligation was thrown into an early menopause due possibly to damage to the ovarian blood supply during the surgery.
A lot of us have started being really suspicious of where and how a lot of this meno "information" ever got started in the first place. It is known that most of the research has been done on upper middle class white women.
Yet in the literature are reports of some ethnic groups where age 37 is normal for menopause for them. Plus when they surgically created an instant menopause for 65% of the generation of women before us, how much can ever really be known now. Even the age 51 number must be suspect.
Also it is important to know that the peri-menopause state can last for years ...mine was 6 years of on and off episodic symptoms. So just starting to get hot flashes or other meno cluster signs at age 37 can still mean several more years of being in the reproductive phase of life.
Critical to this discussion is getting the awareness out that menopause is NOT something that happens to "all women" at age 51 because a lot of women are now delaying childbirth until their 30's and they need to know what they may run into, not only in not being able to conceive, but that the complications of raising young children during the menopause years may also need to be accommodated around.
One of the bigger shocks, besides all of this indiscriminate wholesale drugging and surgerizing of the US menopause population, is how little is known about what is -normal- about menopause, including what body wisdom there may be in the good old hot flashes as possibly performing an important regulatory function. What are they flushing from our bodies and what happens when we chemically interfere with that process in the long term?
The collective women's stories here have been teaching me far more about menopause than any other resource I have come across. Just remember that on this subject, there are NO experts, including your doctor. Many of us have been researching and listening to menopause stories for years on this newsgroup, and while patterns of predictability exist, there is still a tremendous awe for how unique and individual (and still mysterious) this whole part of our lives can be.
Click for detailed statistics available in 1938
|Sandi* Pantalon wrote:
To bypass a L-O-N-G story:
I had a hysterectomy for fibroids in July 1992 - my ovaries remain.
All was well until sometime in early 1994, from what I recall. Since then, my energy level has slowly declined (despite my ADHD) as well as an increase in PMS-type symptoms. The PMS continued to occur about the same time as before the hysterectomy - then started to occur almost continuallly for a while, then with no rhyme or reason.
My libido dropped to the point of low to none. I mean, NONE. It's a wonder that my husband is still here and faithful, to boot!
The night sweats started in 1994 also but I had no idea (denial?) what was causing them. Now, I can count on awakening at least once a night with chills because the sheets are damp and the fan that keeps me cool is now making me cold :0
The crescendo of all of this occurred on October 4th of last year. I quit my job and told certain people to go to hell on the way out - and I haven't worked since then. I have little or no energy - psychic or physical. I will now say basically what I feel to anyone at anytime.
I gained 20 lbs in a matter of months with the crashing fatigue I've read that others have. My once undisturbed sleep is gone. I have VIVID dreams...and not all are good ;)
Went to an internist who got FSH, TSH and LH levels (that were normal along with my hemoglobin) and he asked me was I under a lot of stress! (Why hell yes, Doc! Something is going on inside me and I need your help to figure it out!) I wanted to strangle him but he was smaller than me :)
I then retreated inside my shell of catatonia for about 6 weeks more and decided I didn't want to shrivel-up and die just yet. Did I add that I'm taking Effexor for depression?
Went to an OB-GYN last week who got an estradiol level of 43 pg/ml and a testosterone level of 4 ng/dl.
As fate would have it, the MD is out of town for 2 weeks. I got the lab results from his receptionist.
Does this mean I'm "certifiably perimenopausal" now? What next?
Thanks for telling all of your story. You raise a lot of the issues that are associated with menopause, and often even if ovaries are left after surgery, their blood supply got compromised and they end up having been damaged enough to stop functioning, leading to an earlier menopause than expected...or....you could be having a regular menopause anyway, as the age range starts around age 35 for many women. Indeed, with no preparation, the cluster of menopause signs can be frightening and frustrating.
Knowledge alone is often enough to help one weather this, but with the surgical intervention, there is a wild card in your own case. Each woman's story about her own menopause is unique even under the most "normal" of situations, so one of the best things to do is read widely on the topic, seek out groups where women with gynecological surgery get together and talk and see what you can share and learn.
Fiona, on this newsgroup, runs an excellent private email group called "SurgiPause" and I am sure you will get her address to see if this can help get you some background information on what may be part of all of this for you.
But what intrigues me most about your story is your dreaming experience, and the depression. I also had a history of depression and found one of the most important parts of my healing journey was to go deeply into my dreams and keep a journal and use them as tools for greater understanding. There are several good books on dreams and their role in our underlying psychology that if you are interested, you may wish to explore.
The Dictionary for Dreamers by Thomas Chetwynd - Best first book
Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature by Zweig and Abrams
Several titles by Gayle Delaney
Menopause and midlife has been called a time for "unfinished business," and the dream world can be a window into intuition and change. One woman writer who looked at the surrounding mythology of menopause (Downing) speculated that the insomnia that can be associated with midlife was a way of trying to turn off the dreams about mortality and meaning that can grip ones psyche in the "wee small hours of the morning." And that night sweats were triggered by nightmares, much as the day time hot flashes have a strong association with stress and angst.
There is a theory that depression can be repressed anger, and this can be existential anger/rage as well as more personally directed anger/rage at events, people or things. So the medication may be taking the lid off of anger issues, much as many women going through menopause report surprising flashes of rage and action. Often it turns out that they are really stories more about personal assertion than anger. But surprising new feelings come from a deep well that may have lain quiet and unknown for years, only to come forth with vigor and excess in the beginning parts of this "change of life" period.
I encourage you to think about exploring your dreams and what inner messages may start making sense when you take the time to see their patterns and understand their symbology as it manifests in your own life. A good Jungian oriented therapist helped me a lot with these issues when I started my own healing journey away from depression and panic attacks in my late 30's and I think this is a worthy option to explore in a therapeutically safe setting.
Different strokes for different folks, and this is only my own understanding of the issues about dreams, menopause, change of life at midlife, the energizing power of exploring the shadow parts of our lives, but dreams are the language to this entire world and from my own experience had much that was of value to reveal.
The books tell you how to start this dream exploration process and I will be happy to discuss any of the details further if you wish. But the easiest way is to just get a good notebook and start writing all the details you can remember about them, even if you think they are insignificant or bizarre. Just write, and write about your feelings the dream triggered. Then over time go back and see what patterns, themes and stories the dreams unfold. Don't judge any dream or symbol, just write them all down and sort them out later.
Best wishes and I hope your menopause journey is a good one, in its own strange unfolding way.
|After all that, why not check out the signs of meno from an 1869 viewpoint? They haven't changed much!|