Have you ever waited for something to come true – begged for it, prayed for it – and then it does? That happened to me today.
My lab tests confirm I am now post-menopausal and I couldn’t be happier!!
(WARNING: The rest of this post might be too much information for some readers).
I started the hell that was perimenopause when I was 38. I’d already had nearly 25 years of painful, heavy periods at that time. Little did I know it would get so much worse.
There’s “heavy” periods, “very heavy” periods, and then there were mine. I was anemic for most of my 40’s. At one point, I nearly needed a blood transfusion. My entire life centred around my menstrual cycle. It felt like I was either premenstrual, or having a 10-14 day period. Some months, the pain would be so bad I’d swear labour couldn’t be worse. I’d be bedridden for two days a month. Other months, I was so irritable or anxious I could barely live with myself. Then, the period itself. For the first two days, I’d be changing a SuperPlus tampon and maxi-pad every 20 minutes. There were many days I felt it would simply be easier to sit on the toilet all day.
No one tells you about this part of the experience. We hear about the hot flashes and the insomnia. We know our periods will become sporadic. I didn’t know having monthly crime-scenes in my pants was part of it. I didn’t know my hormones could take me from deliriously happy to uncontrollably weepy within minutes. For a “Type A” personality who likes to be in control, this was extremely upsetting.
I tried everything during this phase of life. Birth control pills didn’t help. Tranexamic acid didn’t help (this is the medication used in trauma situations to stop bleeding). Everywhere I went, I carried a change of clothes. I had extra tampons and pads stashed all over the place – purse, backpacks, car, suitcases, laptop bag. My gynaecologist told me I wasn’t eligible for the Mirena IUD (reported to stop, or at least lessen, periods). I was very near a hysterectomy when a new medication came on the market. I decided to try it.
Within the first three months, it gave me my life back. It stopped my periods. I could take it for three months – no periods!! – and then go off it for a month. When a period started, I could start another three months. It was GLORIOUS!! Three or four periods a year, and even then, they were 10% of what they used to be.
Imagine my horror when this magic drug was taken off the market! I spent the last year hoping – praying – I was finally in menopause. I didn’t know how I’d get through a period without pharmaceutical assistance.
The end of July marked 12 months without a period; the technical definition of being done with menopause. I asked my doctor to confirm it with lab tests. I got the results today. My estradiol and FSH levels indicate I am now – insert choirs of angels and fireworks – post-menopausal.
I know some women see the end of their fertility as a loss. It marks the end of childbearing years. I understand that. I, however, never gave birth. My son is adopted (we were at his birth!). My reproductive cycle has caused nothing but pain, frustration, and anxiety. I am SO HAPPY to see the end of it. It feels like the capstone to the tumultuousness that has been my life the last few years.
Midlife is truly seeing me rise. New job, new home, new(ish) relationship, and now a new phase of womanhood. Best of all?? Nature’s birth control!!