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.