Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is something that people have quite strong views about. You’re either for it, against it, or can’t take it due to other health conditions. I’m not going to tell anyone whether they should take it or not, but I’d like to share my menopause story with you and tell you how HRT has helped some of my symptoms.
As a girl, I had started my periods at aged twelve, and from day one they gave me problems—from extreme pain and cramping to clotting and prolonged irregular cycles. Throughout my menstrual years, I suffered from all kinds of gynecological conditions that never got better. I was relieved when doctors agreed the only option was to remove my uterus with a hysterectomy. I had my children several years before and had no use for the part of my body that only caused me pain.
I had a hysterectomy at thirty-nine. There were no clear warning signs such as irregular or diminishing periods. I noticed that my body temperature had increased over the years, but I wasn’t getting what I thought were hot flashes as such. My lady friends and I would all fan ourselves and say “ooh it’s the menopause” without really having too much of an idea of what was about to hit us.
I was advised that I could go into early menopause but wasn’t given any further information about it, nor did I care at the time, to be honest. I just wanted it all gone!
I recovered well and I thought no more about it, enjoying the freedom of no periods and the release from pain. Even though it was only fifteen years ago, menopause wasn’t talked about in the media like it is now. I knew that my mother had a terrible time with her mental health when she entered menopause, and although I could tell you so much about depression, I couldn’t tell you much else about menopause, apart from the hot flashes. My mother’s generation just didn’t talk about it, and I guess neither did the medical profession.
I was first diagnosed with having menopausal symptoms at the age of forty-seven. I’d been feeling a bit hot, especially at night. I had gone from someone who layered up and slept with hot water bottles and extra blankets, to someone who would sleep naked and have the window open, often waking because I was so hot and uncomfortable and needed to throw the cover off. But I still didn’t think too much about it.
I should mention here that I’ve suffered with my mental health since my mid-20s. It is reasonably well controlled and I have learned to live with it. I have noticed I always feel worse in the winter and do not pick up until springtime hits the UK in late March (This is known as SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder). Even though it’s not a pleasant feeling, I accept that my mood will lift again in time.
However, it was during a music festival that I attend every year that I had a “meltdown.” I was surrounded by my friends with music I loved, but I felt very strange and overwhelmed. I wasn’t comfortable, I couldn’t hold a conversation, and I just needed to escape. I went back to my hotel room and cried uncontrollably for hours. I knew it was time to tell my family and doctor and suspected I needed to take anti-depressants again.
When we returned home, I went straight to my doctor and told him how I felt, expecting to leave with a prescription. I was shocked when he said, “Actually I think you are going through menopause!” Even though my mother had suffered in the same way, it just hadn’t occurred to me that this may have been caused by “the change.”
Although he stated a blood test couldn’t always diagnose menopause due to the rapid fluctuation of hormones, he ordered one to rule out anything else and to check my hormone levels. Of course, my periods had finished eight years earlier when I had the hysterectomy. He sent me away with a ten-day course of a low-dose tranquilizer just to get me back on an even keel.
When I returned, he confirmed that I was indeed menopausal, and with my agreement, prescribed me a one mg estrogen-only HRT pill. (Most women are given estrogen and progesterone in their HRT, but those with no uterus only need the estrogen). I did question the link between HRT and breast cancer and he assured me that the increased risk was minimal, the benefits of taking HRT outweigh the risks, and that patients are more closely monitored now.
Very quickly I found the hot flashes and night sweats I’d been experiencing stopped. My mood elevated, and as I learned more about menopause, I found I had been experiencing other symptoms too:
All these and more were symptoms of menopause, and HRT helped with some.
As the years went by, I began to notice some symptoms returning. My prescription was increased to two mg, which again worked. I still suffer with my mental health, more with anxiety rather than depression but HRT has helped.
You will notice that I have used the term menopause, rather than breaking it down to peri-, pre-, or post-menopause as they are relatively new terms used to describe the different stages. If you look at the official explanation for menopause—when a woman stops having periods—well, then that happened the day I had my hysterectomy!
I hope that sharing my story, might help other women out there decide what action they wish to take with their menopause.
Find out more information about HRT below:
Jo is a freelance writer and blogger. She has written many articles for books, magazines and websites, as well as her own blog Tea and Cake for the Soul.
Jo talks openly about mental health and menopause believing that personal experiences can make other people feel less isolated and alone.
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Follow Jo on Twitter @JoJacksonWrites
I can’t remember if it was 2018 or 2017, really. All I know is I was en route to my job, which is an hour and forty-five minutes away from my house. I was wearing my white jeans, a staple in my wardrobe, no matter my age, and I was about fifteen minutes away when it hit me. I had to poop, and I had to poop right then.
Long ago, I learned not to trust gas station bathrooms. No matter how they look, the toilet may not be working, or an attendant may be cleaning it. So, I chose a CareSpot. I figured an urgent care facility would be understanding and let me use the restroom. I was right.
When I finished wiping all pertinent areas, I noticed something…blood. I had started my period. The weird thing about this is I’d just finished a menstrual cycle two weeks prior. I wasn’t due for another visit from Bloody Mary for at least fourteen days. But here I was having a full-on period.
I immediately knew this was odd. Every month since I was ten years old, I had a reliable period every twenty-eight to thirty days. The only time that wasn’t the case is if I was pregnant. This was new, but I shrugged it off as no big deal. Maybe it was a fluke.
The following month (two weeks later), I had another period, and then it returned to normal, until a few months later, where I had another two-period in one-month situation.
That’s when I scheduled an appointment with a gynecologist.
The gynecologist was a White man old enough to be my grandfather. He peered through his glasses and over his white mask and asked me what my problem was.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Well, sometimes your periods can be irregular,” he said. “But I’ll check to see what’s going on.”
He performed a pelvic exam at a snail’s pace and assured me everything was fine. He then inserted a probe and completed a transvaginal ultrasound. I was fascinated when he showed me my uterus.
“Here are your ovaries,” he pointed on the screen. “I can tell you just dropped an egg not too long ago. You certainly don’t seem to be menopausal,” he assured. “Your cycle is still going pretty healthily.”
So, I left his office with the confidence of a thirty-four-year-old woman, not the forty-four-year-old I was.
And I continued to bleed off and on twice a month.
I visited that gynecologist’s office one more time, but this time I saw a White woman doctor.
“How old are you?” she asked.
Not only did she say the opposite of what old man doctor said two years ago, but she also said I was perimenopausal, the same way she might notice the sun rose that day.
“What can I do?” I asked.
“I can give you a birth control prescription to regulate your periods, but otherwise, that’s it.”
I thought for two long minutes and declined. I’d stopped taking the pill seventeen years prior. I’d read somewhere that continued use increased the risk of breast cancer. There was no way I was risking unnecessary illness just so I could have a “regular” menstrual cycle.
Instead, I wore a pad daily, just in case my body felt like it wanted to shed its uterine lining. If this was what perimenopause was all about, then certainly I could handle it. How bad could having two periods per month every so often be?
Sooner or later, every woman begins to think about the onset of one of the important periods in her life—menopause. Often these thoughts cause concern, because the condition is associated with certain physical and psychological changes that can affect the existing way of life.
Menopause is a natural process in a woman’s body, resulting in the completion of menstrual function. This stage of physiological changes is programmed genetically, and its manifestations and timing are determined by many factors.
Many women anxiously await this stage of their lives. And it’s understandable. This period is caused by the fading activity of the ovaries—namely their ovulatory and hormonal function. In other words, menopause can be defined as the transition from the reproductive phase to the non-reproductive phase, in which the possibility of natural conception and birth of a child disappears.
Natural means the non-surgical, manifestations of menopause in women. There are several age groups; the most often begins the fading of reproductive function.
For most women, the first changes in their condition are caused by the fading of reproductive function, which is noted up to 45-50 years. Modern medicine divides this process into several separate stages.
In medical practice, several concepts are shared.
Natural menopause is largely caused by genetic and internal factors.
Pathological, as a consequence of hormonal disease or drug correction of the hormonal background. But there are features in which the timing can shift significantly.
Early menopause is diagnosed if menstruation disappears before the age of 40, late menopause occurs at the age of 56-65 years.
There are also stages of transition of a woman’s body from a reproductive to a non-reproductive phase:
What factors influence the timing of menopause?
What is the mechanism of menopause?
The onset of menopause is a multifactorial process. In fact, in parallel in the woman’s body there are a number of changes leading to the disappearance of menstruation. The decrease in the following is what occurs:
Prevention of Early Menopause
Modern studies have found that women who are at risk for early menopause are women who do or have done the following:
Dr. Bachurina Lydia was born in the Republic of Uzbekistan in 1971. Since childhood, she wanted to be a doctor. After school she graduated from the Tashkent Medical Institute, worked as a therapist for four years, and then worked in cardiology for three years. After moving to Russia, she was certified and worked as a geriatrician for four years. Dr. Lydia is married with two sons and maintains “Beauty and Health Blog from LiDea” dedicated to medicine. She currently lives and works in Russia.
Follow Dr. Lydia on Twitter @xBXQjNpKwqIj8RI @Лидия
Рано или поздно каждая женщина начинает задумываться о наступлении одного из важных периодов в ее жизни, который следует за менопаузой. Часто эти мысли вызывают беспокойство, ведь состояние связано с определенными физическими и психологическими изменениями, способными повлиять на сложившийся образ жизни.
Менопауза– это естественный процесс в организме женщины в результате которого происходит завершение менструальной функции. Этот этап физиологических изменений запрограммирован генетически, а его проявления и сроки определяются многими факторами.
Многие женщины с опасением ждут наступления данного этапа своей жизни. И это можно понять. Этот период вызван угасанием активности яичников – а именно их овуляторной и гормональной функции. Другими словами можно менопаузу определить как переход из репродуктивной фазы в нерепродуктивную, при которой возможность естественного зачатия и рождения ребенка исчезает.
Если говорить о естественных, то есть, не операционных, проявлениях климактерического периода у женщин, то выделяют несколько возрастных групп, внутри которых наиболее часто начинается угасание репродуктивной функции.
Но все-таки в большинстве случаев первые изменения в своем состоянии, которые вызваны угасанием репродуктивной функции, многие женщины отмечают в преддверии 45–50 лет. Современная медицина подразделяет этот процесс на несколько отдельных стадий.
Во врачебной практике разделяют несколько понятий
– естественная менопауза – во многом вызванная генетическими и внутренними факторами
– патологическую – как следствие гормонального заболевания или медикаментозной коррекции гормонального фона.
Обычно менопауза наступает в возрасте 47 – 52 лет. Но встречаются особенности при которых сроки могут существенно сдвигаться:
ранняя менопауза диагностируется в случае, если менструации исчезают в возрасте до 40 лет, поздняя менопауза – наступает возрасте 56 – 65 лет.
Существуют и этапы перехода организма женщины из репродуктивного в нерепродуктивный период.
Какие факторы влияют на сроки наступления менопаузы?
Наступление менопаузы – это многофакторный процесс. На самом деле параллельно в организме женщины происходит ряд изменений, приводящих к исчезновению менструации.
Снижение численности фолликулов яичников: данный процесс отчасти связан с тем, что часть из заложенных внутриутробно фолликулов созрела и, в результате овуляции, вывели в самостоятельное плавание яйцеклетки. Отчасти это связано с гормональными изменениями, которые снижают активность созревания фолликулов, а потому и к снижению активности яичников в целом.
Снижение чувствительности фолликулов к гормонам гипофиза: во многом это обусловлено генетически. Однако некоторые гормональные и гинекологические заболевания могут способствовать раннему развитию этого механизма. В результате снижения чувствительности к гормоном гипофиза яичники снижают активность созревания фолликулов.
Снижение секреции эстрогенов яичниками: этот фактор связан с описанным выше механизмом. Ведь жидкость, содержащаяся в созревающем фолликуле богата эстрогенами, которые частично поступают к системный кровоток.
Нарушение секреции гормонов гипофиза: во многом этот процесс обусловлен генетикой. Так же существенное влияние на активность гипофиза оказывает работа яичников – а именно: снижение уровня прогестерона и эстрогена в крови.
Современные исследования выявили, что в группу риска по раннему возникновения менопаузы входят женщины, которые
Д-р Бачурина Лидия родилась в Республике Узбекистан в 1971 году. С детства хотела стать врачом. После школы окончила Ташкентский медицинский институт, четыре года работала терапевтом, а затем три года работала в кардиологии. После переезда в Россию она получила сертификат гериатрии в течение четырех лет. Д-р Лидия замужем, имеет двух сыновей и ведет “Красота и здоровье блог от LiDea“, посвященный медицине. В настоящее время живет и работает в России.
Следовать Dr. Lydia На Twitter @xBXQjNpKwqIj8RI @Лидия