Is There Life After Early Menopause?
We feel the deepest pain about the things we cannot talk about; those things we are ashamed of or afraid to share. And every day the pain grows, and the harder it is to share. We don’t know where to start talking about it. We think; “Even if I mention it, these people didn’t walk the path I did, so how can they understand? I am alone in this.”
Being diagnosed with early menopause is one of those subjects. It’s something that’s new to the people around us, and so it’s hard to be understood. It’s also a shock to us when we are slapped with the diagnosis. No matter how we receive the news it’s hard. No matter the cause; perhaps as the result of a life-changing event, a treatment, or a simple blood test after your period was late for a month or two, it’s hard.
Let alone telling others, you don't even know how to react to the news yourself.
In a world where it’s not ok to even talk about menstruation publicly, in a world where you have to put sanitary pads and tampon boxes in bags so they’re not seen, or hide them in your pocket on the way to the toilet, how can you talk about the absence of menstruation? And, of course, we are all aware of the negative perception of menopause.
That’s why you are not prepared for the early or premature menopause diagnosis at all. That’s why you feel lost when you get the test result. Maybe at first, you just ignore it. Maybe you cry secretly for a few months. Maybe you throw away the letter with the result thinking it's definitely wrong; it can’t be right. You ask questions to the doctors you visit, but none of the answers they give are satisfying. Sometimes they talk to you as if you don't have any feelings, and you leave their practices wishing you never went there at the first place. Your lips tremble with sadness, anger rises in you, but still, you cannot reply to their heart breaking comments. “Let's try hormone therapy” says the next doctor you visit and sends you home with hormone pills. “Come back in three months” they add.
You believe everything will be fine after three months, just as your doctor suggested, and your heart fills with hope. So you think that there’s no need to tell anyone yet. Or, maybe, you mention your pain to your best friend, or your sister, and they join your journey of hope.
But when your next blood test shows the same values (or lower), something breaks in you. Your eyes hurt. Not just your eyes. Your heart does too, a lot. You say life should not be like this. Then you drift from shock to anger, and from anger to pain, and then to shock again. You find yourself in a vicious cycle.
Then you open to another friend. They ask “Are you sure?” and add “You’re too young to have it. I heard a friend-of-a-friend went to see this doctor, ate a mixture of cranberries and ginger every day for a month and she went back to normal…” You feel frustrated but bored, and you give up on even thinking; “Oof! They cannot get it, and they never will. I don’t need solutions, I don’t need sympathy. I just need a friend to listen to me.” Then you think if your friends react like this, how will your parents be? How can I look at their face and say “You will not get (another) grandchild from me” without breaking their hearts?
Then you go to the doctor again, as they say you need treatment after menopause, as if it’s a disease to be cured. They say “take these hormones or your health is kaput!” They add that you’re at increased risk of at least one of these conditions: cancer, osteoporosis, premature ageing, heart disease, Alzheimers. They say “adios” to sex as your vagina will be dead, say “bye” to your vulva too. You want to shout “You think you know my body better than me! It’s not a rule to have any of those! Many people who still menstruate have already said “adios” to sex, for example, and my family’s bones are still going strong even after 80 year!. HOW DO YOU KNOW?! HOW DARE YOU?! How do you see the future and be that certain I will get one of those diseases!”
But, instead, you just sit on that chair, muted and frozen. If only you knew in advance that someone was going to attack you with the names of so many diseases, then maybe you could have been prepared… If only you knew your gynaecologist was also be a passionate preacher of all that’s ill in the world!
You leave that office with fear and share it with your partner, your sister, your friend. But that does not help ease the big loss inside. It cannot be eased by talking about it. Words with good intentions do not fill the gap. The fear the doctor planted in you does not go away.
So you go online to find others like you. You wonder how they managed. Did they bid their health farewell? And you start reading about early menopause. There are so many website that say that hormone therapy will save you, and if you avoid it things will be awful. But then there are also many websites stating otherwise; if you take HRT, then things will be awful. Some also talk about the natural hormones, made just for you! They are a little more expensive, but they say this is your health! It is worth it, isn’t it!
And right at that moment, your head explodes! 🤯
You wonder if those people think at all when sharing this information publicly? Do they even consider that their words will be read by someone in a confused and vulnerable state of mind? Then you see they did not: They say you shall be depressed, you shall no longer have a good night’s sleep, your body will sag, you shall have the skin of a 60 year old, even if you are in your 20s or 30s. They get into your head, and you think menopause is the real hell.
As if living with the shock of understanding that you have no control over your life, and trying to settle into the new course of the relationship with your (future) partner, your family and friends isn’t enough. You find yourself thinking if you’ll be able to survive at all. As if you have fallen into the hands of a menopausal symptom trader, and the only way out is to get the treatments (whether it’s hormone therapy or herbal supplements, or…) imposed on you. You feel obliged to accept their decisions, and right at that moment, you feel tired. You feel confused. You just want to disappear.
Exactly at that moment, when you feel you will just give in to whatever “treatment” was pushed upon you, and you feel stuck, and your heart feels heavy, just at that moment: STOP!
Drop everything and open your arms! Open your arms, and open them wide! Stretch as much as you can, as if the whole room, the whole house, the whole building, the whole world is yours! As if life is yours! And as if you own your own life ...
Then take a deep breath… and one more deep breath. Feel the blood running in your beautiful body. Your beautiful soul, which was poked by “authorities” relentlessly.
Say “WAIT A MINUTE! This is my life! This is MY life!” Hear yourself saying it. Shout if you can. “This is my life, and I make my own decisions!”
And next time someone talks at you about the potential diseases you could get, or to see another specialist who will “save” you, tell them to stop. Be clear about your boundaries, with the doctors, with the websites, and with your close ones who try to “help" you. Listen to and consider their suggestions if you wish, then stop and think. Which option made you feel good? Taking hormones, exercising, drinking sage tea, watching the birds? Do the thing that makes you feel good!
Then open your arms even more, stretch as much as you can. Now you have space around you. As if your presence in this world has become stronger...
Because that's exactly what happened…
Did it feel good?