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Warning: what follows is an unabashedly truthful rendering of one woman’s journey through menopause. Men who are squeamish about discussions of blood, periods, Aunt Flo, cramps, tampons, sweating, vaginas, or middle-aged women in general should probably stop reading right about now. Bless your hearts.

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Image provided courtesy of http://www.gratisography.com/

In the past few years, my uterus has declared war. This was not a gradual shift, a kind or slow and steady progression of the aging process. Oh no, it hit full force with an onset of crazy heavy periods and mood swings akin to Sybil on steroids. Every day occurrences–dishes left in the sink, the sound of a baby crying, a shopping cart with a squeaky wheel–could turn me to blubbering mush or irate lunatic in zero to three seconds. I became a stranger in my own body. My affliction: menopause.

Here’s the thing: no one talks about menopause. Don’t get me wrong, there’s A LOT of information on the net about menopause. But I don’t really hear the dialogue. Thinking way back to when I got my first period, we girls talked about our periods, our “Aunt Flo”, all the time. Using tampons (could we still be virgins and use TPs?), who was the last to get her period, dealing with bloat, feeling like hell–these were common conversations at sleepovers.

My cohort is huge: there are over 4 million of us in the U.S. who joined Club Fifty in 2013. Approximately two million women born in 1963 are probably going through menopause right now! That’s a lot of gal pals out there, where’s the chatter?

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Image provided courtesy of http://www.gratisography.com/

As a public service, I’m turning on the megaphone: let’s talk about menopause.

What is menopause? According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, menopause is:

The natural cessation of ovarian function and menstruation. It can occur between the ages of 42 and 56 but usually occurs around the age of 51, when the ovaries stop producing eggs and estrogen levels decline. (http://www.asrm.org/Topic_Index_Menopause/ accessed 3-14-15).

SYMPTOMS. These have been my symptoms, yours may be very different.

Changes in cycle duration. About five years ago, my cycle switched from every 35 days to every 25 days. Currently, I haven’t had a period since January. I’ve been told that I’m not officially post-menopausal until my periods have ceased for at least one year. I’ve probably just jinxed myself big time by admitting I now have a target date.

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Image provided courtesy of http://mrg.bz/dfGRQV

Mood swings. This has been going on for several years. I’m not a gal who tends to cry often. Now EVERYTHING tugs at my heartstrings. I swear I was once inconsolable over a tire commercial. Oh, and the flipside of this equation has been the going off the rails over very minor issues. I finally talked to my doctor and she prescribed a low dose of Lexapro. The Hubs swears it saved our marriage.

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Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/98727416806451157/

Heavy periods. For the past two years my periods have been awful–for 4 to 6 hours. Each month, on the second day of my period, I’ve bled so heavily I’ve barely been able to walk away from the bathroom.

Dry skin. Most of my life I’ve been plagued with oily skin. But now, thanks to menopause, I’ve got moisturizer stashed in every drawer of every cabinet in the house as well as at least three tubes in the car and a travel size in my purse. Still, my legs and arms are beginning to resemble the lizards I grew up with in Florida.

Hot flashes. These have come on quite abruptly over the past six months. A girlfriend mentioned to me that she wasn’t sure if she’s had a hot flash. Trust me, if you’re not sure, you haven’t had one. It’s like a furnace blasts hot air across your skin. On a very cold night this past February, the Hubs and I were driving back from an event in the city. A hot flash hit and I had to roll down the car window and hang my head outside like a Labrador. The worst part is when a hot flash wakes me up in the middle of the night. The Hot Flash Tango: Blanket on, blanket off. Blanket on, blanket off.

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Source: http://www.sodahead.com/ 

Weight gain. This bothers me the most. Rationally, I know this weight gain hasn’t occurred overnight. However, it seems to me that I suddenly have this spare tire around my midsection that Will. Not. Budge. I recently had to go up a size in my jeans and I cried at the check-out register while purchasing a new pair.

MANAGEMENT. Again, these are options based on my personal experience. I’m NOT A DOCTOR nor have I ever played one on TV. These are merely notes from one gal pal to another:

  • For the hot flashes I’ve been taking black cohosh which seems to be helping. For additional information about black cohosh, see Women Living Naturally.
  • For the dry skin I’m trying Aveeno (well it works for Jennifer Aniston). Haven’t seen a significant improvement to date.
  • For the mood swings, in addition to the Lexapro I’m now trying yoga at least once a week–loving it.
  • Trying to tackle the weight gain by hitting the gym twice a week and working on eliminating my late night snacking habit. The muffintop continues to be firmly in place.

SILVER-LINING MOMENT. Menopause does mean no more months like this: If Your Period Was a Person

I’ve put it all out there for everyone to see. Now it’s your turn.

Are you experiencing menopause? Symptoms? Solutions? Advice?

Cheers,

Kimba

PS: Thanks to Julie Gorges–please visit her at Baby Boomer Bliss–I’ve discovered a wonderful website called Hot Flash Daily. This may be my favorite find of 2015!

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