When your period comes to an end
Four years ago, I missed my period, and I thought, “Oh my God, I’m going to be 47 years old with a baby.” But it wasn’t that. How it happens is you’ll miss one month and then you’ll get it for eight months, and then you miss a couple months, and then you’ll have it for three months and then you’ll miss a month, and it keeps going like that. This month is going to be a year that I’ve missed it, and they say that once you miss it for a year, that’s it.
I used to know my moods by my periods. I would know I was having PMS, and then when I had my period, the day or two after I’d feel this complete relief. Now I don’t really have PMS, but I also don’t have that release anymore. When I’d ovulate, I would always feel it happening. I don’t feel that now, but I do still get other signs that I’m supposed to be ovulating, like bloating or a bit of pain, but the egg doesn’t come.
When you get your period, it’s a rite of passage — ”I’m a woman now, right?” You talk about it with your friends. It’s not like I don’t feel like a woman anymore, but I am sort of mourning the loss of it. I would never want another child, but the fact that I really can’t have kids anymore is sad‚ even though if I was pregnant tomorrow I would be like, “Oh my God, I’m gonna die.”
Everybody is different. My sister-in-law didn’t start menopause until she was 58, which is quite old. I was 46 when it started, and now I’m going to be 52 this month, and it’s finally happening. But I was perimenopausal at 42 — that’s related to your hormone levels. You know you’re perimenopausal from a blood test. I got my test back recently, and my doctor said, “OK, now you’re post-menopausal.”
The hot flashes are brutal. Some weeks I’ll have them twice a day, other times I’ll have them three times a week. You know in the movies when you see a car blow up and it goes — that’s what it feels like. It feels like you’re on fire. I’ll be in the kitchen and I’ll just throw my shirt off — I would love to do it at the office, too. At night you get sweaty and you have to throw everything off. I find that stress makes it worse. I’ve talked to women who are older than me and they say, “Oh, I still have them.” I read up on it and the hot flashes could last for another 10 years. It’s so wonderful being a woman!
There’s fogginess as well — brain fog, like trying to think of a certain word. I get dizzy spells, too. Also I had postpartum depression really badly, and I started to get some of that depression again during menopause. I’ve gone back to exercising and even trying a little bit of meditation for the depression, just counting my blessings. I feel like it’s all placebo, but it works. I was thinking about going on hormone replacement, but my doctor was dead set against it because of the risk of stroke.
It affects your sex life, too. My husband is old-fashioned so I’d be like, “I’m on my period,” and he was like, “OK, fine.” So it was like, I don’t have to do it for seven days. It was my monthly break, and it sounds awful but I don’t think I’m the only woman who feels that way. I couldn’t have cared less about sex when I was on my period. And now that I’m in menopause my libido is low as well. I told my husband that this is the way I’m feeling, and there’s not much I can do about it. But he’s 55, so he has some other issues himself. We’ve been together for a long time, so we’re good.
At the time when you’re dealing with menopause, your appearance starts to change as well — you look older, and people respond to you in different ways. I really couldn’t care less that fewer men are paying attention to me. What bothers me is that, mostly in business, people gravitate toward what the younger person says — even if it’s something I’ve said five minutes ago. It’s hurtful because I have all this wisdom. I’m just as smart as anyone else. I feel ignored, and I don’t think it’s neurotic, I can see it. We value youth and vibrancy and beauty so much. What is wrong with getting older?
I’m really trying to be extra strong, so no one notices I’m going through this — like, don’t notice I’m older, please, and please take me seriously. Mind you, I’ve always been nervous to speak my mind in an office setting but I don’t care as much anymore. I feel free, and that’s also happened in the last couple of years.
Sometimes I look around me at younger women, and I think, “Oh God, in 10 years they’re going to start this.” When my daughters go through it, at least they’ll have someone to come to and talk about it — I really didn’t. My mom had a hysterectomy when she was young, so she never went through this. My grandmother would yell, “Ohh, I’m having a hot flash!” and then run to the other side of the room, and I would just think it was hilarious. So that was the only experience of menopause I had to go by.
People don’t talk about it that much, so you just have to go through it. I joke and say it’s wonderful being a woman, but it really is because we are so strong. With everything we have to deal with every day, it’s amazing what we do.