Menopause…..’the change’….’change of life’…..whatever you want to call it, it’s the natural process of when a woman’s body slowly produces less of the hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Or when a woman’s menstrual cycle ends.
This brings on loads of changes for many women – hot flashes, vaginal dryness, moodiness, night sweats, anxiety, weight gain, osteoporosis, change in skin and so on.
For some, this ‘change’ comes sooner than others.
For me, it came within 24 hours of having my laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy surgery, which in simple terms means I had both ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.
Long story short, with my original cancer prognosis 11 years ago, they suggested I also get the above surgery done for preventative measures. In a nutshell, if I wanted a better life expectancy, then the best bet would be to have this done.
You see, the average North American woman (at that time) had a 2% chance of developing ovarian cancer in her lifetime. With my BRCA1 mutation and grade III breast cancer tumour, the chance of myself developing ovarian cancer was 65%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I did lots of research and decided at that time, it wasn’t right for me. I wasn’t ready. I’m not among those that think menopause is not a huge deal. I knew it would change my quality of life and I had enough changes at the age of 29. I had to get rid of both breasts, nipples and areola’s all at once, so I figured I would hang onto my other lady parts until I could prep myself on how to mentally cope with this big ‘change’.
And so I let almost 10 years pass before I decided that I was ready. There were some other complications so it was time. I had done my research over the years and knew what to expect….so I thought.
Here’s how menopause went down for me:
- night sweats – check. BADLY.
- hot flashes – check. BADLY.
- weight gain around the hips – check and almost instantly.
- moodiness – check. BADLY.
- anxiety – check. BADLY.
- loss of sex drive and dry vagina – check. BADLY.
- insomnia – check.
For those of you that have never experienced night sweats – get ready to change your night shirt and sheets every night. It’s not like sweating and feeling hot. Imagine someone dumped a huge bucket of room temp water on you ….while you were sleeping. It’s like that but worse.
Hot flashes – these come out of NOWHERE, totally unexpected and basically feels like there is an alien inside your body that just lit a massive bonfire. Mine would last anywhere from 3-10 mins and would honestly feel like I was burning from the inside out.
Weight gain around the hips – I had 15lbs of muffin top appear out of nowhere in a matter of 2 weeks. No joke.
Moodiness – I would be in the middle of conversations and just start crying. Uncontrollably and for NO reason at all.
Anxiety – I had never experienced this before menopause. My heart would start pounding faster and faster and I would feel completely paranoid, like I had lost all control. This would happen at different times throughout the day.
Vaginal dryness – I won’t get too descriptive here but COMPLETELY unpleasant and not something any woman should have to live with. Your partner will not enjoy this either – just an FYI.
Insomnia – never in my life have I had trouble sleeping. Falling asleep, staying asleep…any kind of sleep. NOT happening when you’re going through menopause. And again, its for no reason. I wouldn’t even been thinking about stuff. I just literally couldn’t sleep.
On top of these items, I also developed some cool acne that I never even had as a kid and thinning of hair.
Here’s the deal….some of you will go through this stage of life with very few symptoms and/or very gradually. But some of you will hit all of these symptoms and maybe within a few months of each other.
Before I go any further, I should note that I am NOT educated on this stuff whatsoever but I do have some references and local ‘menopause mentors’ that can help you out with all this stuff!
Here are the facts you MUST face and deal with. Hormones play a HUGE role in how we feel and everything else I just mentioned above. SO, if these guys are all a mess or completely missing, then you will also be a mess. That is a true fun fact.
I feel like a lot of women still don’t chat about this stuff. And yet, for me, it’s been SUCH a huge deal. Did you know that back in the early 1900′s, they used to put women who were going through ‘the change’ away in mental institutions? I was sure I was headed in this direction before I figured stuff out.
If you’re in your late 30′s or early 40′s and you feel things are changing or you don’t feel the same or ANY OF THE ABOVE, then make an appt with your naturopath and get back on track with your hormones. It’s one of the first things I tell my friends when they start talking about some of their issues – go get your hormones checked out. And most times, they find out they are totally out of whack.
I had to work with my oncologist and convince her to let me see a physician regarding the use of bio-identical hormone replacement. Typically, being a carrier of the BRCA1 gene and a breast cancer survivor, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is not an option. For me, I figured it was an option because my tumour was NOT estrogen driven! My tumour was triple negative which is rare. What does this even mean? This means the three most common common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth – estrogen, progesterone and HER2 – were NOT present. From what I had learned over the years of treatments and follow up’s with my genetic doc, the triple negative breast tumours are more aggressive and more likely to spread. Approx only 15% of all breast cancers are triple negative.
With all that info, I figured I would be a prime candidate for HRT. It took a few years of research with my team of docs to allow them to give me the “ok” to go on bio-identicals. Everytime I would ask what harm it would do, nobody could give me an answer.
And so here I am …… 1-1/2 years into my bio-identical hormone replacement therapy and LOVING life again.
I am 39-1/2 and feeling like Wonder Woman….no, my life isn’t perfect. It never is – it will ALWAYS have it’s ups and downs, no matter how old I am. But what I can tell you, is that going through menopause and entering my 40′s, is proving to be kick a$%!! It’s been a wild ride that keeps me on my toes!
In my next blog I will talk about the processes I went through to get “levelled out” and what some of the different options are and also how to help ease the process!!
“I don’t live to train, I train to live.”