Since September is Menopause Awareness Month, I thought I would share my own menopause memoir to commemorate the month. I should warm my male readers that this post will contain information about my girlie parts, hormones and my periods menstrual cycles. If you are squeamish of such topics or simply just not interested, then now would be a good time to click away. However, if you stick around to read my post, you may learn a little more insight to the baffling female species.
Before children, my cycle was 21 days, but at the age of 34 after the birth of my second daughter, I began to have irregular periods. For some cycles, my period would arrive 6 weeks later. As you can imagine, these irregular period patterns would cause me to think I was pregnant, but then my old reliable Aunt Flo would finally arrive.
About two years ago in the midst of this new pattern of irregular menstrual cycles, I became pregnant. Unfortunately, the pregnancy was not viable and I lost my baby at 10 weeks, which was my first miscarriage and my first experience with all the awful symptoms that occur as a result, such as severe cramping and weeks of very heavy bleeding.
Then, almost a year later to the date, I experienced another episode of severe heavy bleeding, which I thought I was another miscarriage. I took a pregnancy test which read negative, but I doubted the accuracy of the test and tried 2 more tests which also read negative. I began to think there was something more serious happening with me and I made an appointment with my obstetrician.
When I visited my OB, a number of tests were performed on me: a pregnancy test, blood work and an ultrasound. As the other pregnancy tests already demonstrated, I was not pregnant. Thyroid was also ruled out. Nothing irregular showed up on my ultrasound. So, what could be wrong with me?
That’s when the nurse practitioner revealed to me news I was not ready to hear. “You are experiencing pre-menopause.”
*Freeze frame for dramatic effect and insert tragic climatic music.*
According to my NP, my heavy and irregular periods could only be explained by perimenopause. It would not affect my ability to get pregnant, but simply my biological clock ticking and reminding me to get cracking if I want more children.
After I left the doctor’s office, I researched pre-menopause and I even recalled a show that Oprah did years ago about the topic. When the episode aired, I remembered thinking what an unfortunate situation for these women in their thirties to face. Who knew I would be one of those women?
As I read the symptoms of perimenopause, it became a checklist for all my bizarre ailments over the past 2 years, particularly an increase in allergies and insomnia. Even my poor sex-deprived DH would attest to my change in libido.
Upon my research, I also discovered that perimenopause can occur 5-15 years prior to the onset of menopause. I recalled my mother’s menopause experience. My mother went through her change when I was teenager. When I did the math, I realized my mom could have very well been my age when her symptoms of perimenopause surfaced.
As with everything else, diet and exercise seem to be the key to ward off the symptoms of perimenopause. At the time of my menopause manifestation, I consumed a lot of Diet Dr. Pepper, so my first course of action was to replace my daily dose of diet soda with green tea. I began to eat more flax seeds and other foods with Omega-3. I added soy milk and soy beans to my diet. I also limited my morning coffee to one cup. I increased my number of work-out days from 3 days a week to 5 days.
Within a week of changing my diet and increasing my exercise, I felt remarkably better. My energy levels rose and my sleeping patterns improved. My menstrual cycles became more regular and my menstrual flow gradually decreased.
It has been a year since my menopause manifestation. By simply changing my diet and increasing my exercise routine, I feel I have found my own Fountain of Youth.