Tag Archives: Menopause

Entering Menopause

I have been in peri-menopause (where hormones are declining but you still have periods) for nearly 8 years now but have recently skipped 2 periods so assume I’m finally transitioning into full menopause.  I am 52, which is the average age for Menopause in the UK, and have been desperate for my periods to end due to decades of horrendously painful endometriosis & adenomyosis-related menstrual cycles.

In the first 5 years of peri-menopause I only had a few symptoms, such as:

  • Sudden uncontrollable rages (though in fairness I was having a nightmare with my alcoholic Mum, so maybe not all of that was hormone-related!)
  • Dizziness (which turned out to be very low ferritin, ie iron, stores and once that was addressed the dizziness improved substantially)
  • Occasional itching in the lady-garden, particularly after my period which sounds trivial but drove me bonkers
  • Itchy skin
  • Insomnia
  • Oily night sweats, which went on for a good 4 or 5 years
  • Hair loss on a grand scale, though this could also be related to my mast cell disease
  • A couple of hot flushes

In years 5-7 of peri-menopause some of these symptoms went, only to be replaced by new symptoms:

  • The night sweats ceased
  • The rages subsided
  • The itchy skin was much improved
  • After treating my low ferritin stores the insomnia was much better and I slept really well

However, I then developed:

  • Shooting nerve pain in both breasts, plus a pea-sized lump which worried me enough to see the Doctor.  I had a mammogram and all was thankfully fine.
  • Palpitations and skipped heartbeats, which again worried me enough to see the Doctor.  I had a 24 hour Holter monitor fitted, which showed the electrical activity of my heart was abnormal but this was put down to hormones and no-one seemed concerned (they weren’t the one whose heart was having a hissy fit!)
  • I had several episodes of what felt like strokes – suddenly feeling like I’d been coshed over the head, saw stars, then struggled to speak.  This was usually followed by crashing blood sugar levels.  Very scary.  I think these were my version of a hot flush – trust me to be different.
  • My migraines increased in both frequency and severity.
  • Periods of anxiety, which is something I’ve never suffered from before.
  • I started feeling poleaxed by exhaustion, which was quite different from the poisoned, fluey exhaustion of my M.E. or the over-work exhaustion of my hEDS.
    meno tired
  • My brain fog increased.
  • I gained yet more weight (aided by out-of-control munchies), felt bloated with water retention and my breasts were often massive and very tender.
  • My periods became heavier and more clotty, but nothing uncontrollable.

This last 6 months, as I’ve clearly been transitioning from peri to actual menopause, things have changed again:

  • The shooting breast pain has gone, to be replaced by shooting nerve pain in my legs and feet.  It’s like being stung by a cattle prod and is truly unpleasant.
  • My back pain, from which I’ve suffered all my life but was under-control, has gotten much worse and my legs often feel numb.
  • My already present brain fog has been severe.  It reminds me of the days when I was bedridden with M.E. and feels like I’ve been drugged.
  • Exhaustion has been crippling and not helped by ongoing insomnia.
  • I’ve lacked motivation to do anything, which is very unlike me.
  • My moods have been up and down, either irritated by everything or completely overwhelmed by life.  Again, this is very unlike me as my mood is usually stable.
  • My migraines have been dreadful.
  • I’m as fat as a whale.
  • My entire body is stiff and I ‘ummpff’ when I get out of a chair.
  • My muscles are definitely weaker, my legs in particular but I also have no power in my hands for taking lids off jars or even writing.
  • My skin is very dry and starting to sag everywhere.
  • I’m hot most of the time.  It’s hard to describe, but is like I’m sitting uncomfortably close to an open fire.
  • I have a mild version of the head coshing events every morning.   I can be sitting watching the telly and my brain suddenly feels like it moves in my skull, then I get a whooshing sensation (a bit like I’m starting with anaphylaxis), then I feel a bit dizzy and off-kilter and my blood sugar plummets.  I’m still convinced these are my version of hot flushes – why couldn’t I just sweat like a normal person instead of worrying I have a brain tumour or am having a stroke?!
  • My brain fog is truly dire and I am slightly dizzy and disoriented all of the time.

During peri-menopause, I felt like my symptoms were manageable (stroke-like episodes aside which frightened the life out of me), but the past 6 months the whole menopause thing has become harder to cope with.  The worst aspects are the profound exhaustion where I literally don’t have the energy to get off the settee let alone cook a meal, and the brain fog which is so bad at times I simply can’t function.  I’m also continuing to have the stroke-like attacks, which now happen every morning and still scare the bejesus out of me.  I have aged literally overnight and it’s very disconcerting to look in the mirror and see some random stranger you don’t recognize staring back at you (I genuinely mean this – the ‘me’ I’ve seen my entire life has gone and it’s like my face has been replaced by someone elses!).

On the plus side, in the 2 months since my last period my migraines seem to be settling down again and I can’t describe how fabulous it is not to be tortured by severe period pain.  However, I am still getting period pain!  I seem to have constant low level, grumbling pain which ratches up into proper period pain every 2 weeks or so (though nowhere near as severe as when I bleed).  I wasn’t expecting that, though Dr Google tells me that “phantom periods” are normal and could go on for some considerable time.

So, that’s where I’m currently at.  This year, I must admit, has not been much fun and although I never thought I’d contemplate HRT there have been times when I’ve not been able to get out of bed where I’ve seriously considered it.  I’m holding off for now as HRT has its own side-effects (not least thrush, which I suffered from constantly when on the contraceptive pill) but never say never – watch this space.

Weekly roundup

I’m sat here wondering how to start my roundup post.  It’s weird, because usually I make a brew and just start rabbiting on about my week like I would if I were having a cuppa with you all in real life, but I’m struggling to find any version of my normal life at the mo.  I’ve definitely skipped a second period.  This has never happened before and I’m hoping marks the beginning of the actual menopause (as against the peri-menopause, which is where your hormones are in decline but you still have regular periods).  In the last few years I’ve had some not-so-pleasant symptoms but it’s been totally manageable, however things have suddenly changed and not in a good way.  I’ll do a proper post about it all this week but suffice to say I feel like death.  The Menopause Fairy, it seems, doesn’t have a magic wand.  Nooooo.  She has a truncheon with which she batters you senseless.  The Bitch.

After telling you all that someone had made a cash bid on my bungalow which had been accepted by the vendors, things took an unusual turn on Monday.  I received a phone call from the estate agent all out of the blue who told me the house was still very much on the market.  The prospective buyers, apparently, had a change of circumstance and pulled out (which is code for they realized how much work was actually involved and said “no way Pedro”).  I got all excited that maybe I could buy my dream property after all, so decided to up my bid by £10,000 to the maximum I can afford…………..and it was turned down.  Again.  Fuck-a-rubber-duck.  So I had hope.  Then no hope.  Then hope again.  Then no hope, again.  My fragile emotions can’t take it and I have spent the week alternating between sobbing and shouting at the dog like a raving lunatic 😉

It’s been a month since we received a letter from the Neurologist saying my Dad’s biopsy for Sjogren’s Syndrome was positive and his GP needed to refer him to Rheumatology.  However, we have not had an appointment through so I chased his GP up and it was obvious she hadn’t even read the letter and had no clue what I was talking about.  FFS.  We were then given the choice of where to be treated.  We’re both so sick of travelling hundreds of miles so really wanted to be seen at our local hospital but the first appointment wasn’t for 3 months (!), so we’ve opted for the next closest hospital and have an appointment in 7 weeks which still feels like an age away but is better than Christmas.

During the school holidays I had my two little models from the village come over for a photo shoot.  I’ve been working on the resulting pictures for weeks and they’ve both been a mare to do, but I finally finished at least one of them which I’m calling ‘Fly Fishing‘.  It’s a picture which looks better as a large print as it contains lots of detail, so I’m not sure how well it will do in competitions where images are looked at for 5 seconds on a small screen, but my little model loved it so that’s the main thing.

It’s my birthday this week and I will be 52.  Holy Mary Mother of God.  I still feel 32 in my head, so when I look in the mirror and this saggy, dried up, unrecognizable stranger stares back at me it comes as a humongous, mind-bending shock.  Who is she?  Who is she?!  And more importantly where have I gone?!!

In desperate need of a good laugh I’ve started following the Menopausal Mayhem Mother on Facebook.  She’s fucking hilarious and has my sense of humour to a T.  It’s comforting to know I’m not the only woman on the planet who is totally losing her shit and swearing worse than a Docker.  If anyone wants to know what they can buy me for my birthday I’ll have a crate of these please 😀

 

 

 

Say Yes to the Menopause

I skipped a period last month and am currently on day 55 of my cycle.  It’s not the first time I’ve missed a period, it happened 9 months ago and I got all excited thinking Aunt Flo had finally left the building only for her visits to continue on as normal the following month, but this time something feels different.

I am hot.  I don’t mean I’m hot (there are chastity belts with more sex appeal than I currently possess), I mean I am boiling.  All of the time.  I’m still not having traditional hot flushes where you go bright red and sweat like a hog on a spit, but I am definitely having moments where I feel like I’m stood too close to a forest fire and my skin is turning to crackling.  Having spent several years bathed in oily sweat at nights, I’m now also roasting every morning and have repetitive strain injury from reaching for the toggle on my ceiling fan.  At least I’ll save on heating bills this winter, even if my dog gets hypothermia.

I’ve gone from looking pretty good for my age and still turning the odd male head, to Mr Blobby.  I am frumpy, saggy, dried up and have never been this fat in my entire life.  I know I need to diet, but I have a crack addiction to sugar and am liable to stab you with a bread knife if you get in the way of me and my cookie jar.  The thought of healthy food makes me want to barf but I would crawl over hot coals for just a snif of salted caramel Haagen Dazs.  By the time I’m 55 I’ll need to take the window out of my lounge to leave the house cos I won’t be able to fit through the door.

I have insomnia.  Again.  Due to a combination of M.E. and raging histamine levels I spent the better part of twenty years unable to sleep and just when I finally get everything under control and am rendered unconscious for six blissful hours every night my hormones die a death and I’m back to staring at the ceiling at 3am.   It’s just plain rude.

I’m a naturally bubbly person with plenty of joie de vivre.  After spending a decade sick in bed, any day I’m not in pyjamas is a good day and although I have strong opinions I don’t sweat the small stuff.  However, with Aunt Flo’s imminent departure my personalty seems to have done a bunk and there are now people in locked psychiatric wards who  are more emotionally stable than me.  Every driver road-rage.jpgon the road is a twat.  Every inventor of anything electrical is a twat, Bill Gates is obviously a twat, politicians are twats, car parks are designed by twats, farmers who own ridiculously loud tractors are twats (in fact, farmers in general are murdering twats) and of course people who place cash offers on bungalows are the biggest twats of all.  In fact, every person in the universe bar me is a twat, except my best mate and possibly my dog (although he does have twatish tendancies).  And when I’m not calling everyone, and his dog, a twat I’m lying sobbing on the kitchen floor, with snot streaming down my nose, feeling like my Granny has died.

I have zero energy and even less motivation.  I’m not depressed, I’m just absolutely and utterly knackered and all I want to do is lie in bed all day eating crap and watching Say Yes To The Dress.   This is in stark contrast to a quarter of a century with M.E. where I wanted to do stuff but simply couldn’t.  Now I am physically able to do stuff but simply can’t be arsed.  Having a tidy house, clean clothes and acceptable levels of personal hygiene are over-rated – I’d rather find out whether she chooses the ballgown or the fit ‘n flare with the sweetheart neckline while stuffing my face with alternating Pringles and peanut M&Ms.

There is, however, good news.  The reason I have prayed for the Menoapuse to arrive is that I have spent decades crippled with pain from severe endometriosis and adenomyosis, and while I am still getting cyclical pelvic pain it is nothing compared to the agony I am used to.  And while the past six months have seen my migraines ratch up a notch or ten, the past few weeks I’ve barely had any head pain at all, which is another hugely welcome bonus.  Long may both continue.

 

 

Menopause Myths

It’s brilliant that the Menopause has finally been hauled out of the closet and is being talked about, although the peri-menopause is still lurking in the shadows.  The fact these fundamental female issues have been ignored since the dawn of time is scandalous and you can guarantee if they happened to every man on the planet we’d know a shit load more about them than we do.

I read a truly excellent article on Menopause recently and if you’re interested in the subject it’s well worth a look.  The more I learn about this monumental change in women’s lives the more livid I become.  In the article, trainee GP Hannah Short states “The menopause wasn’t in any of my textbooks”.   Say what?!   A biological process which causes problems for over 70% of women often for the rest of their lives doesn’t even rate one sentence in the training of our health care providers?  It’s insanity.

The myths surrounding Menopause are legendary, so I thought I’d highlight a few:

  • It’s a natural process, not a disease, and doesn’t require treatment.
    Pregnancy and childbirth are natural processes, but that doesn’t mean expectant mothers don’t need monitoring, advice, sometimes medical intervention or any kind of health care.  Men’s prostate function declines as they age, and ageing is a natural process, yet they are still placed on prostate drugs when they have to get up 5 times a night to pee.  In other words, all sorts of issues can be put down to ‘natural processes’ but that doesn’t mean we ignore them and offer no help, guidance or treatment.
  • The Menopause lasts approximately 2 years.
    This is a blatant lie.  For a start, most women experience peri-menopause (winding down of hormones) before the actual menopause (periods ending) and the peri-menopause can last anywhere from 2-10 years.  I’m in year 7 and my periods are still regular, if totally haywire.  Virtually nothing is known about peri-menopause as nearly all the limited research has been conducted on menopausal women, not on peri-menopausal women.
  • The Menopause begins in your late forties.
    Having read many menopause forums now, I can categorically state that for many women this is absolutely not true.  It seems to be quite common to experience the first symptoms of peri-menopause in your late thirties, a fact not recognized by most health care professionals.  My periods started to behave differently when I was 44, and my best friend started noticing changes aged 41.  When it comes to actual menopause, see the next point.
  • The average age of Menopause in the UK is 51.
    I appreciate the word ‘average’ is being used, but it kind’ve gives the impression that your periods will end between the ages of 50 and 52 and that isn’t born out by the experience of my female relatives.  My mum was 54 when her periods stopped.  Three of my cousins all had their last period by the age of 49.  My sister-in-law went through menopause at 46, my other sister-in-law was 53 and my next door neighbour was 54.   I’ll shortly be 52 and my periods are showing no signs of ending.  And that’s just a small sample of the differences experienced.
  • The earlier you start your periods the earlier you will reach Menopause.
    Virtually no research has been conducted on this, but from the little information available this appears not to be the case.  I started my periods aged 11 and at the age of 51 am still menstruating.  The three cousins I mentioned above all started their periods in their mid teens yet all reached menopause before the age of 50.   So I can certainly say in our case this is a myth.
  • There is a blood test to tell you if you are in Menopause.
    If you live in the UK and think you might be in peri-menopause there is no test which will confirm this for you.  FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) can be used to check your status but if you’re over the age of 45 and having peri-menopausal symptoms your GP won’t offer it to you as it’s considered unnecessary.  If you are under the age of 45 and showing peri- menopause symptoms you may be offered the test, but unless you are on the brink of actual menopause the results will be about as much use as a chocolate fireguard as your FSH can swing wildly during peri-menopause.  So realistically there is no blood test to indicate you are in peri-menopause and if you’re in actual menopause you don’t need a blood test to tell you your periods have stopped.  It’s a crap situation which desperately needs addressing.
  • There are no treatments for Menopause.
    When you Google peri-menopause and menopause you get all the usual shite about drinking more water, eating better and taking more exercise.  Why is there an assumption that middle-aged women are alcoholic couch potatoes who live on chicken nuggets and curly fries?!  It’s so insulting, as most of us lead incredibly healthy lifestyles and are very careful about diet and exercise as we are putting on weight without trying (a consequence of our declining hormones).  There are hormonal options for treating the symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause (HRT and testosterone replacement) although they are currently crude.  Finding a doctor with any decent knowledge of them, however, is rare.  There are only 2 hormone clinics in the whole of the North of England serving 2.5 million peri-menopausal and menopausal women.  Of course, not all will need treatment but as 70% of women experience problematic symptoms it’s obviously a vastly under-resourced area.  Your GP may prescribe HRT (but not testosterone) and then again they may not – confusing research on the risks of cancer due to HRT has caused reticence.  You absolutely won’t be offered bioidentical hormones on the NHS and realistically are more likely to be offered antidepressants than anything.
  • Symptoms go when you are through the other side of Menopause.
    This is the biggest myth of all.  My Mum asked me the other week if I could get anything at Tesco to help with vaginal dryness and itching.  “Why, are you having problems?” I asked her.  “I’ve been having problems since my periods stopped” came the reply – she’s now 79.  She also still has hot flushes and so too did my 76 year old paternal grandmother, who used to sweat so much every day of her life that it dripped off her chin end.  The information on what happens post-menopause is virtually non-existent and more women than we realize have menopause symptoms until the day they die.

That so little is known about peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause is shocking but unsurprising.  Issues which solely affect women have historically been ignored and those women experiencing problems have been told it’s their fault for lacking the constitution to cope with this ‘natural’ change.  We are clearly mentally fragile and overly emotional.   Bollocks is what I say to that.  If men went through a fifth of what women deal with the country would come to a grinding halt.

I hope in the current climate of female freedom of expression that health issues which affect women will finally start to be researched.  However, truly effective treatments are decades away.  There are really easy things that could be done now, however, to improve the situation such as regularly checking women’s ferritin levels as many of us are iron deficient during both puberty and peri-menopause.  Even that simple measure doesn’t happen though and women are basically just left to get on with it and to cope the best we can.

Mentioning Menopause

When I first noticed my periods were going a bit haywire I went along to see my GP just to check everything was OK.  She said it looked like I was starting the menopause and not to worry, it would be over with in two years.  That was seven years ago and I’m still waiting for my periods to end.

I can’t really blame my Doctor.  She most likely had one lecture about the menopause in medical school and it was probably taught by a man.  The lack of information about menopause and peri-menopause amongst medical professionals is scandalous and I now know from experience the only useful appointment you ever have is if you actually see a nurse or doctor who has been through it themselves!

I’ve talked to my Mum about her menopause and she put the fear of God up me.  Both her and my Nanna had horrendous flooding and in the end my Mum had to have her womb cauterized.  She was probably anaemic for years so consequently had insomnia and very little energy, and in her mind this is what menopause is like for all women.  Only of course it’s not and thankfully hasn’t been for me.  I’ve had some not very nice symptoms, including on a few occasions thinking I was having a stroke which was really scary, but I’ve coped well I think so far though that may change when my periods actually stop.

I talk quite openly about my peri-menopause.  Not in great detail, but if I have trouble remembering stuff or lose my thread mid-conversation I will just say “sorry, menopause moment there!” at which point the person I’m speaking to will look horrified, even if they’re female.  Historically it’s just not something women have ever talked about and has been some kind of shameful secret, despite the fact every single woman on the planet will go through it.

Until twelve months ago, it was never mentioned on TV either and then something changed……….maybe a BBC exec is female and is going through it?……………..and suddenly it was all over the telly.  A documentary was recently made about it and all last week BBC Breakfast covered the topic, which I think is great if a little overboard.  However many people, mostly men but including some women, think we need to shut the hell back up about the menopause.  It’s an “uninteresting” event that women have been dealing with quietly for millennia, says Julie Birchill in the Telegraph and hundreds of commentators to her article agree.  It’s not the first time women have sabbotaged other women.  It still blows my mind that any woman voted for sex offending, mysogenistic Trump, for example, while others have criticized the #MeToo campaign.  I can only think that the brain washing of girls from the day they’re born into thinking their experiences are insignificant and we just need to put up and shut up runs deeper than any of us realize.

Despite the fact the BBC have covered the menopause all week, actual information about the condition has been sadly lacking.  It’s great to hear about other women’s experiences, but some advice about what to expect or help with symptoms would be useful.   The reason this hasn’t happened is that there is very little real information ‘out there’ on the menopause.  It’s the last big female event that has yet to be studied.  Can you imagine having a baby and your midwife saying “sorry, we don’t know much about childbirth but it’s a natural event so I’m sure you’ll be fine”?! or “maybe you’d like to spend hundreds of pounds visiting a private hormone specialist because NHS childbirth treatment is wildly out of date?” because that’s how we’ve always viewed The Change.  The best advice the BBC could come up with on coping with hot flushes at work was to wear layers and have a desk fan.  FFS!  No mention of treatments to stop hot flushes because to be fair we don’t know what causes them and existing hormone treatments work for some women but definitely not for others.

There’s even been hoo ha this week about using testosterone replacement therapy in menopausal women.  All women have some testosterone, it’s not just a male hormone, and of course it can disappear during menopause just like your other hormones, only it’s never talked about.  Can you imagine if men’s testosterone disappeared in middle age and they suddenly had no interest in sex?!   It would be headline news, yet women’s sex drive and stamina can vamoose and we’re just expected to live with it.

I am delighted there is finally recognition of the menopause and that we are able to openly talk about it for the first time in history.  It’s not just women who need to know what’s in store, but our men folk and children too because it’s also going to affect them.  I’ll never forget Keira Knightly writing a short essay for the book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) about the realities of childbirth and the fact her vagina tore, and her husband admitting he had no idea that had happened!   It’s the same with menopause.  Some women sail through but many don’t and for all of us it’s a transition and, just like childbirth, I don’t think we’re the same people once we’ve come through the other side.

I personally seem to have developed a “fuck off” button, alongside slovenly housework habits, pleasure seeking tendencies and an addiction to peanut M&Ms.  I’m also both more chilled and more grumpy than I’ve ever been before.   My waistline is disappearing at an alarming rate despite the fact I eat less than I ever have and I will never again wear shorts due to my thighs resembling an entire crate of Jaffa oranges.  I feel like an entirely different person to the me of my twenties and thirties and that’s taking some adjusting to, while at the same time being hugely liberating.

I’m loving being a menopausal woman in today’s society, which is finally recognizing us and our experiences.   Middle aged women have always been invisible and I will not apologize for the spotlight currently being on girls because it’s been on boys for a few thousand years and we have a lot of catching up to do.

 

 

You’re Fired!

I am as grumpy as a bear with a thorn in its arse.  I started my periods at the age of 11 and am now in my fifties, yet does The Curse show any signs of gasping its last breath?  That would be a big, fat, no.  I’ve read all the blurb online about Menopause and every article states that it happens at the average age of 51, but my body clearly hasn’t got the fucking memo.  I’ve had 40 years of cramps, backache, migraines, sore boobs, insomnia, nausea and painful bowel movements and I have had about as much as I can take.  Both my oestrogen and my progesterone need to jog the fuck on and leave me to my old age.

I can’t believe that not only are my periods not stopping, they’re getting ever more frequent.  In fact, Aunt Flo has just been back for a visit only 9 days after she last left the building and she didn’t come alone.  Oh no.  She brought with her Migraine-The-Torturer and his hanger-on Nausea, The Munchies who moaned there were no Star Burst in the house and made me drive 14 miles to buy some, and my old friend Back Pain who still thinks it’s hilarious to keep me awake half the night in agony.  My exhausted ovaries have served them all with an Eviction notice but they’re not playing ball (although it feels like someone’s playing ball with my bladder, the amount of peeing I’m doing!).

There is one person who has vacated the premises, however.  Energy.  Yup, he deserted me months ago and only flits back now and again to have his washing done before packing his bags and sodding off back to Siberia.  Traitor!  I hope he gets frostbite or eaten by Cossacks.

I’ve worked out that in the last 40 years I’ve spent at least £2,400 on sanitary products and what has my Uterus given me in return?  Agonizing, fiery pain that’s what.  I could have gone on a cruise with that cash.

Hormones you’re fired, and if you don’t vacate the building soon I’ll have security escort you off the premises!

 

 

 

Treatment of peri-menopause

When you’re going through any change in your life, particularly if it’s health related, it’s often comforting and reassuring to read about other people’s experiences and/or to read up on the facts.  I’ve sometimes felt a bit isolated and bewildered during my peri-menopause because when I’ve asked older women I know about it they’ve either looked embarrassed and changed the subject or told me they didn’t even notice their transition and simply stopped having periods (!), so I’ve had to resort to Google and forums to find out if my experience is normal.  It’s such a relief to read that other women are having the same issues as me though of course no two experiences are ever the same, but some of the advice I’ve heard from so-called experts, including female gynaecologists who should sodding well know better, has driven me insane.

I’ve read from several websites that “lifestyle” choices can “treat” the brown discharge I’ve experienced this month.  Apparently I have to drink more water, exercise more and improve my diet.  Oh do fuck off.  Having a bleed replaced by brown discharge when you’re nearly 51 simply signals the end of peri-menopause and the start of actual menopause – no amount of Perrier or walking up a mountain is going to ‘cure’ it.  It’s natural and no treatment is needed.

The only cure for the pain I’m experiencing is a hysterectomy, due to the fact I have severe endometriosis and adenomyosis.  Unfortunately, due to my MCAS and almost total drug allergies, this isn’t feasible otherwise I would have had it done a decade ago and saved myself years of torture.

Peri and actual Menopause are natural, if oftentimes not particularly pleasant, times in a woman’s life and not diseases which need to be treated.  Obviously for some women the symptoms become unbearable and they absolutely need hormone and other help, but for anyone to suggest that drinking more water or eating more leafy greens is going to provide relief is ludicrous.  Neither food, drink nor exercise is going to replace our dwindling hormones.

Instead of giving out bollocks information I wish there was a website that just told it like it is.  Which explained that many peri and menopause symptoms aren’t very nice but to just grit our teeth and get on with them cos they won’t last forever.  Or, if the symptoms are really bad, pointed us in the direction of effective treatment, eg which is the best hormone cream, the differences between cream and pessaries, how long to use them for and what side effects to expect.  Now that would be useful.  The thing that would be most useful, however, would be large scale research on what actually happens to women during peri and menopause so there was some proper understanding of the symptoms, the phases, how long it lasts and what’s normal and not normal.  Yes we’re all different but there are common themes as anyone who reads the message boards can see.  The current inaccurate advice seems to be to ask your Mother, because your menopause will mimic hers.  We’re not clones for heaven’s sake!   My Mum’s menstrual history is worlds apart from my own and her Menopause and mine have been polar opposites.  We aren’t just made up of our Mum’s genes we’re also made up of our Dad’s, so maybe I take after my paternal Aunt or Grandmother or maybe I’m just unique!  Some up-to-date research on the effectiveness of HRT for symptoms like hot flushes and vaginal atrophy is also sorely needed, and the truth about the risks of using hormones after the menopause in terms of side-effects or increasing female cancers.  We’re not supposed to have hormones after our 50s, so what are the consequences when we artificially replace them?

However, as with most things which affect women this information isn’t available.  A few years ago my Mum was having issues ‘down below’ so was referred to a very nice, and honest, gynaecologist who told her that historically women haven’t routinely lived to their 80s so we’ve no clue what’s going on with their hormones at that age or how to treat the problems older women experience.

On the one hand we’re told menopause is normal so isn’t worthy of research and on the other every Tom, Dick and Harriet is trying to ‘cure’ us with bullshit or unsubstantiated advice.  I don’t want to read about bio-identical hormones from someone who has a book to sell either – I want impartial information from Doctors who aren’t making a profit off my misery.

Unfortunately should this information ever be available it will come too late for me as I’ll be through Menopause and out the other side.  I feel, therefore, it’s important for me to discuss my transition which, for some bizarre reason, seems to be one of the last taboos – we openly discuss puberty and pregnancy these days but periods and the Menopause are still firmly in the closet.  It still amazes me when I mention my peri-menopause that people look shocked, like I’ve admitted to urinating in public or something!

A female MP this week was late to a House of Commons debate on period poverty because she was unwell due to her period and it made headline news.  It’s the 21st Century FFS – women shouldn’t have to hide their periods like it’s some kind of dirty secret!  Even some women discussing it were unsympathetic, told her to stop being a wuss and to be more professional.  I’m disgusted with them.  Some lucky women sail through their lives with perfectly healthy periods they barely ever notice, but for others periods are a kind of living torture.  I’ve suffered with endometriosis since I was 13 years old and by the time I was 40 was so exhausted from the suffering that I literally wanted to top myself.  Why can’t these judgemental women have some compassion for those whose experience is different to theirs?  I wish more women discussed their periods and menopause in polite society because then it would be the norm and we wouldn’t have to try and act like nothing is happening.

Menopause isn’t a disease, just like pregnancy isn’t a disease, but oftentimes there can be problems and it’s hard to treat those problems when Doctors have hardly any accurate information to go on.  Considering Menopause is something every woman on the planet will go through it’s gobsmacking that it’s still in the relative dark ages when it comes to research and understanding.