Menopause. Even Women Doctors get it wrong...
Learning about Menopause while keeping my sense of humor.
I went to the doctor with what felt like a heat rash on my neck. I thought I had gotten into something I was allergic to. The doctor leaned in for a whole 3 seconds, literally glanced at my neck and said, "Scabies. You have Scabies."
What??? I mean, WHAT?????? Are you INSANE??? Have you been dipping into your meds?????
I went to my car, in shock, grossed out, and absolutely dumbfounded. Crying, I started looking at pictures on my phone. (Gotta love technology!) I went from disgusted to appalled, to skeptical, and then I felt the rash on my neck turn into a blaze of heat as my anger started to boil. I didn't have scabies! That dumb You-Know-What! She was talking out the wrong orifice! So I marched back up to the Doctor's office and demanded to either see someone else or get my money back so I could see a doctor that had her head on straight. I got a second appointment the next day.
"Allergies. You have Allergies. The other doctor is used to working in the emergency room and sees scabies all the time." (GROSS! Think about this the next time you hit the emergency room!)
Allergies made sense. But, I couldn't pinpoint anything causing it. After a few day, it finally went away... Then POOF! Back it came! Prickly cactus had rubbed my neck in the middle of the night! The creams and the allergy medicine didn't seem to help or hurt. Then, just as mysteriously, it disappeared.
My ears felt like flames were shooting out! You know those old cartoons with the steam shooting out? I swore I saw some out of the corner of my eye! My neck was red and bumpy and prickly and I thought I was going to go insane! After a few days, it went away.
Could it be... Menopause??? - Oh Crap! Really?
Then, a product line I carry came out with an amazing menopause system just about the time all the hoopla came out about estrogen replacement therapy. I started doing research and I started talking with women who were interested in the product I was now selling. I asked a lot of questions about their symptoms.
Oh My Lord! I was having hot flashes! Theirs didn't last for days. But their descriptions matched to a tee. It's like my neck was the red line in a candy thermometer that got stuck on boiling. I didn't feel hot - but my skin was on fire to the touch. It itched like I'd gotten into insulation. My ears were on fire. It never occurred to me that a hot flash could last for days!
How could two doctors both miss this? They both looked right at it! They both were women in their late 40's and should have at least been aware of what a hot flash looks like as doctors. Don't ya think? It never came up as a possibility.
I still have a regular menstrual cycle (although it fluctuates wildly in intensity). I do have mood swings occasionally - well, maybe more than occasionally if you were to ask my husband. (But, really, I think I went off the deep end a few years ago. Men buy a sports car. Women turn their lives upside down rediscovering themselves.) Bottom line, I didn't associate this with Menopause. Why would I? Everything is still functioning...or is it?
- My memory is shot! Sometimes I wonder if I'm losing my mind.
- My weight is an issue - but that's because I haven't taken care of myself the way I should.
- My hair is thinning - especially my eyebrows. (Yes, I've had my thyroid checked and it's OK.)
- I started getting acne. ACNE! (Worse than when I was a teenager, mind you.)
- There there's my heart. It races and feels like it's going to thump itself right out of my chest. I get heart palpitations.
- Oh yes. A couple years ago, I had a dry spell. Overnight, my period stopped. But it started again months later. (A third doctor told me it was stress)
But guess what. Here's what I found out. I was having my first hot flashes! Read more to discover what I am doing to stop my symptoms and what other Menopause symptoms are out there so you can compare.
What do the Experts say about Menopause?
Web MD describes the Menopause process as such:
When Do Women Usually Enter Menopause?
When menopause occurs naturally, it tends to take place anywhere between the ages of 40 and 58, with an average age of 51. But for some women it can occur as early as the late 30s, or as late as your 60s. When menopause occurs before 35, it is considered premature menopause, but just as menarche is genetically predetermined, so is menopause.
What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?
For many women who enter menopause, their menstrual cycle becomes irregular and then stops, and they don't have any other symptoms. But, for others, the decreasing levels of estrogen associated with menopause may cause more distressing symptoms that include:
Decreased sex drive
Racing heart (palpitations)
Vaginal dryness and soreness
Bone thinning (osteoporosis)
These symptoms can last from a few months to up to 10 years.
What Are the Stages of Menopause?
Menopause is a gradual process. The events preceding and following menopause amount to a huge change for women both physically and socially. Physically, this process has four stages:
Premenopause. Some experts feel that this term should include the entire reproductive period up to the final menstrual cycle whereas others consider it to refer to women on the cusp of menopause. Their periods have just started to get irregular, but they do not yet experience any classic menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness. A woman in premenopause is usually in her mid-to-late 40s. If your doctor tells you that you're premenopausal, you might want to ask him or her how he or she is using this term.
Perimenopause. This term refers to women who are in the thick of menopause. Their cycles may be erratic, and they may begin to experience hot flashes and vaginal dryness. On average, women are about 47 when they hit the perimenopause stage.
Menopause. This refers to your final menstrual period. You will not be able to pinpoint your final period until you've been completely free from periods for one year. Then, you count back to the last period you charted, and that date is the date of your menopause. Note: After more than one year of no menstrual periods due to menopause, any vaginal bleeding is now considered abnormal.
Postmenopausal. This term refers to the last third of most women's lives, ranging from women who have been free of menstrual periods for at least one year to women celebrating their 100th birthday and beyond. In other words, once you're past menopause, you'll be referred to as postmenopausal for the rest of your life.