- Women's Health
Menopause: What Your Doctor Might Not Tell You! Doctor Video Included
I know menopause. I suffered through it with my mother, and I’m just now coming out of it on the other side, myself. I’m writing this in an effort to help other women who might be going through what my mom and I went through to hopefully offer them some comfort – to let them know menopause symptoms they might be experiencing are not unusual. Just consider this my menopause blog or my menopause journal. fortunately, I never had to turn to hormone therapy to treat my menopause symptoms. Some women, however, do find much needed relief with hormone replacement therapy.
I had symptoms that I couldn't learn about through research. I finally gained knowledge through a wonderful female doctor. She told me things about menopause symptoms that no other physician or website addressed.
For my male readers, you might want to skip this one! It’s brutally honest and pretty graphic.
Periods and menopause
Okay, you already know menopause is the cessation of ovulation and monthly periods, right? But these don’t just stop all of a sudden. It’s a gradual process, and I was more than ready for it, or so I thought. I began having periods at the tender age of eight, and I always hated them. I couldn’t wait to go through menopause! That was before I discovered that I would endure almost two years of hell in the process.
When I was in my late forties, my periods began to get increasingly heavy. They were still regular, unfortunately, but they were very scary. My flow was unbelievable. For two or three days every month, I was practically incapacitated. The blood was often like water. Sometimes I would pass huge blood clots. I had to sleep with two towels underneath me. I ended up having to wear adult diapers plus super overnight pads on these days. Even so, I usually had to leave work to shower and change my clothes. I was losing so much blood that I was suffering from anemia. My doctor was shocked to find that my hemoglobin often dropped to seven. He put me on iron tablets and liquid iron, but they didn’t help.
My friends were very concerned, convinced that I had some form of cancer or another serious condition. Luckily, I knew about periods and menopause. My mother had experienced the same exact thing. At the time, I rarely saw a doctor. The only reason the anemia was discovered was because I went in for another problem, which I discuss below.
Back to periods and menopause. After sharing my experience with other women, I discovered that the heavy flow Mom and I had experienced was not that unusual. Of course, I researched periods and menopause online, but couldn’t find anything about torrential flows. Even top medical websites mentioned only irregular periods and a heavier than usual period. I wanted to read that a river was just a normal part of the process! These articles must have been written by men.
I finally discussed this with a female physician who assured me that she had many patients who had experienced the same thing. This made me feel better, but it didn’t really help me deal with the harsh reality. Someone at work told me about her experience with heavy periods and menopause. She finally had a hysterectomy – she couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to do that. I figured I could hang on for a while longer. Surely they’d stop soon!
What sent me to the first doctor was arrhythmia. What is arrhythmia? It’s an irregular heartbeat. I could feel my heart pounding sometimes, and it felt like it was skipping a beat. It was so bad one night that I was convinced I was about to have a heart attack. I got my husband to take me to the emergency room.
After they hooked me up to machines, I was told that I was having preventricular contractions, or PVCs. They had no idea why I was having them, but they said a few, like three a minute, were probably nothing to worry about. I wasn’t having a few. I was having thousands. They were so bad that the doctor kept me in the hospital for two nights to monitor my heart. This was a male doctor, and never once did he mention menopause or perimenopause.
Even after I was released from the hospital, I had to wear a heart monitor. Of course, I asked about arrhythmia treatment, but the doctor more or less just scratched his head and mumbled something about ablation. So I was still clueless about the cause of the PVCs and about arrhythmia treatment.
I returned to the female doctor who immediately told me about the association between arrhythmia and menopause. I had researched it on the internet and couldn’t find anything about it, but the doctor assured me that it was most likely due to the hormonal changes that come with menopause and perimenopause. I felt very relieved!
Sweats and menopause
When the heavy periods and the PVCs began to abate, I was practically delirious. I felt that a huge burden had been lifted. I no longer had to worry about bloody clothing or having a heart failure from PVCs. I still have them occasionally, but they’re nothing like the arrhythmia I was experiencing before. Just as my life started to get back to normal, however, a new menopause monster emerged: hot flashes and sweats.
Back to the internet. Unlike the arrhythmia and the uber-heavy flow, sweats and menopause were discussed on many sites. Before, I had never been much of a sweater, but for a year or so, it seemed like I was always sweating. Even in the middle of winter, I might break out in a sweat at any time. It was aggravating, but I knew that sweats and menopause went hand in hand.
Night sweats and hot flashes
I also discovered the sister to the day sweats of menopause – night sweats and hot flashes. Actually, mine were never as bad as my mom’s. Her night sweats and hot flashes were so bad that her sheets would often be dripping wet. She would often have to get up in the middle of the night and change her pajamas and her sheets.
Night sweats and hot flashes associated with menopause are discussed ad nauseam on many websites. Of course, some serious conditions can also cause night sweats, but I knew mine were almost assuredly a normal part of menopause. I still have them occasionally, and in fact, I wrote an article about the causes of night sweats. The link is found below, if you want to read it.
With my personal experience and what I learned from research and from my female doctor, I feel that I know menopause on a first-name basis. For a couple of years, she was my sworn enemy, but now I see her as a friend! For the first time in my adult like, other than when I was pregnant, I’m not saddled with periods or PMS. It’s wonderful!
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