by Laura Hall
I was in tears.
While back in the days a fun-loving bubbly girl, it felt like my body was betraying me.
Sleepness nights, damn hot flashes, incredible pain when having sex.
I was 44, so didn't really understand what was happening or what to ask. It was hard to put a finger on the symptoms. And I had no clue how to start the conversation with friends or family.
The problems started quite instantly when I went of the pill. Because birth control pills contain estrogen, they can mask the symptoms of perimenopause.
Almost immediately after quitting the pill, I experienced hot flashes with an intensity, only someone who has had the same, will understand.
I went to my OB/GYN who also delivered one of my 2 sons and tried to explain my situation. Not daring to talk anything about sex pain, I just told him about my night sweats and anxiety attacks out of the blue.
He looked at me stunned and asked how I draw the conclusion from these few symptoms, that I might be menopausal. With 44 I was way to young to experience menopausal symptoms. Sweaty nights could also occur in between cycles and he prescribed me something to help soothe.
When I left, he said half jokingly 'maybe you need a hobby'.
I left stunned and hurt. Not did he only not understand the nuances of the female body after giving birth, he patronized me. I didn't want to give up. Knowing myself for 44 years, I know that something changed.
It sounds cliche but I searched for a female OB/GYN, who understood my situation much better. With her I felt free and open to talk not only about sweat drops, but also about sex pain and drive and she helped. She also understands the invisible changes I am going through and that helps - perimenopause is so personal.
My female OB/GYN told me, how often, women leave her practice with ' thank you, you have validated me for the first time in years'.
While this makes her very proud, it also makes her very sad. Treating perimenopause properly cannot only cure immediate symptoms, but can also help prevent common life-threatening diseases in the next quarter-century.
Every woman’s menopause experience is different, and many cruise through the natural decline in estrogen without significant discomfort. But for too many women who are experiencing serious symptoms, the response of the average doctor is simply, “There’s nothing we can do.”
“We spend a lot of time in the health care profession teaching women how not to get pregnant,” says New York City gynecologist Tara Allmen, author of Menopause Confidential. “Then we teach them how to have babies, and possibly we teach them how to breastfeed. But that is where the lectures end.”
My story ends on a positive note, I got the help I needed with HRT, which is working well for me.
Still, I need to think about the women, who are me 5 years ago, left puzzled and misunderstood.