Monday, May 23, 2011

M is for...

M is for...making, moving, menopause

I've already written plenty about making. And moving. The whole first year of my blog was pretty much about moving. So that leaves...

M is for menopause (sorry guys)

My mother, my maternal aunt and my sister all had hysterectomies so I had no role model for this inevitable transition in my life. I had no idea what to expect, genetically speaking, or even when I might expect it to occur. As it happened, it occurred quite early. I was 44 when I had my last period.

I always thought that was pretty young. Not that I missed having my periods or anything. I was quite happy for them to be gone especially as I was doing the river guide thing then and there is nothing worse than having to deal with that on a three day wilderness canoe camping trip. And believe me, there is something about being in the wilderness that will bring it on. I always carried supplies with me for our guests who were surprised by an early visit.

Kinda gives me a new appreciation for the ancient practice of sending the women to 'the tent' during their time of the month. I used to think of it as some sort of banishment for being 'unclean' but now I realize it was a vacation from all the work they had to do. Wish I could get a 5 day vacation every month.


Some women hardly notice menopause besides the obvious. For others it is a terrible time of changes going on in the body. Sort of like going through puberty, only backwards. For me, it was a long slow decline.

The first few years after the last event were blissfully non-symptomatic. I seemed to be more susceptible to the heat but I was hanging out in the desert all the time so what did I expect? Then one day, I felt this ball of heat start building up in my solar plexus, spreading out to all my extremities (sort of like an orgasm only centered higher up and not nearly as pleasant) until I finally broke out in a sweat.

Uh oh.

After the novelty wore off which happened at about light speed it became a decidedly unpleasant experience. I took to carrying around a japanese paper fan. Didn't matter where I was...home, grocery store, temple, standing in line to vote...out came that fan.

The Hot Flashes were accompanied by the Night Sweats. Throw off the covers, pull them back on, throw off the covers, pull them back on...all night. This went on for a couple of years. Eventually the HFs and the NSs tapered off and I would only break into a sweat as I drifted off to sleep and as I was waking up. Even that eventually stopped...mostly.

Except for the whole new general sweating thing.

I never used to sweat. At best, I'd perspire some, but rolling off your face sweat? Never. At 5'4” and 105 lbs soaking wet, I was always cold natured. My lips and nail beds would turn blue if I stayed in the water too long in the middle of summer.

So, in the end, that's what menopause did for me. Totally reversed my internal thermal settings. Which makes it a challenge here in South Texas where the summers were long and hot even before global warming.

I must say, though, it's nice to no longer be at the mercy of estrogen. I don't miss the monthly emotional roller coaster, the bleeding, the succumbing to the grip of lust.

Oh, wait.

Sometimes...sometimes, I miss it terribly.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I can relate so well - covers on, covers off, covers...

  3. I miss estrogen and good eyesight. It's hard to see the newly formed whiskers to pluck them. I am not in love with my internal inferno, but I adore not having a cyclical hormonal rollercoaster ride. They tell me that the hot flashes and night sweats go away, but after 10 years, I"m beginning to wonder.

  4. On a whim I decided to stop using my Nuvaring in March. I had one brief period & nothing since. I know it's just been two months, but I'm pretty excited. Or I was until I just read your experience. I already have some night sweating (have had for years), but no flashes just yet. As I recall, my mother was pretty darn miserable. Oh joy!

  5. It hasn't got to be that bad, I had hardly any symptoms and those I had lasted for no more than a year.
    Omega oils, like primrose oil are supposed to help. They did me.

    My periods were a pain, literally. I do not regret not having any now.

  6. You have made me laugh, blush, cry with this one, you lovely thing!

  7. Nice one Ellen!

    The hot flashes were crazy. I used visualize myself as a glowing coal, emitting searing rays of heat..."don't touch me...I'll burn your hand off...!!" Yeah, that's how it felt.

    You know, I do sort of miss the cycle of energy every month: I'm so even now, no mood swings and times of crazy vitality. Steady.

  8. Great Ellen!

    I am in the middle of this right now! I suppose it's a blessing I now sleep alone ... the night sweats are a pain ... but not as embarrassing as the hot flushes, which creep up on me at the most inappropriate moments.

    But I don't miss - at all - the monthly visit.

  9. Great to the point post.
    I didn't really notice my hot flashes because I was in constant motion dealing with teenagers. Until one day one of them remarked on my face color...bright red. The night sweats were horrible though and the terrible moods swings. After not having the aforementioned "crap" in my life for awhile.....hey this being an olde broad is a piece of cake.
    And your explanation of reverse puberty is absolultely spot on. I have one going into puberty and the other going into pre menopause and I need earplugs to shut out the bickering and ...... yeah.

  10. I was fortunate that my transition into the world of low estrogen was only mildly disrupting. The benefits far outweighed the negatives and I love life as a post menopausal creature! I feel better than ever and say good ridance to estrogen and all it involved! Cheers!

  11. You make me laugh. :)

    I'm having an easy go of it so far. I get the hot flashes but they're mild compared to what I hear and see with others. The night sweats were another thing. They happened for a few nights every month from the time I gave birth to my youngest (21 years ago). It would be almost two decades later when I entered menopause though.

  12. i'm still waiting for maleopause. i'm not really sure what to expect. perhaps i'll become more serious and self-absorbed. perhaps i'll get all mopey and loathsome. it's something to look forward to. steven

  13. Who put the "pause" in there? Shouldn't it be menoCEASE? I am quite content to be done with it. Well, except for the mustache and goatee that I am constantly plucking. Really, it better not be just a pause!

  14. I have thoroughly enjoyed all these comments.

  15. the hot flashes are what do me in
    my face gets blotchy and I sweat from my hair and it's just awful

  16. Oh yes! I went through bouts of depression and loss of confidence. So glad it is all behind me.

  17. As you know, sometimes I miss the grasp of lust terribly, too.

    I carried a Chinese fan around with me for years. One thing the big M did for me was to send me, my tail tucked between my legs, to the Sufi acupuncturist. Everything was better after that!

  18. Ah yes!! Menopause!! I went bonkers for a couple of years but now I am better than ever. more hot flashes!! Hoorah!!

  19. My mother had nearly no symptoms at all - I'm hoping for the same thing.

  20. My estrogen comes from the drug store, bless its little football-shaped heart. But, when I switched insurance once, I couldn't get it for three monts and got to enjoy all of this crazy shit. Plus my hair and skin went all to hell.

  21. Ellen, I had a terrible peri-menopause--with fibroid tumors and anemia. I kept telling myself that if menopause would arrive, it would be a breeze. And actually it was. Hardly a hot flash.

    Something similar happened in both my pregnancies. The first and second trimester morning sickness was godawful, debilitating. Then the actual deliveries went fast. Not painless mind you. But speedy and complication-free.

  22. I wrote a long post a while ago about menopause; I cut it down to this, but it was driven by menopause :) It's also a chapter in the upcoming book, but in short, it's here if you're interested:

  23. I've heard lots of different descriptions of hot flashes and night sweats, but yours is exactly as I experienced it. I have a paper fan that I bought for a euro in line at the Vatican that I keep with me, mostly at my desk, and I constantly fan myself. And my hot flashes and night sweats are technically over with, but I'm usually hotter than anyone else in the room. And I live in Florida, so sometimes I'm just hot, but no one else is carrying around paper fans.

  24. Hahahahaha! My first "hot flash" experience was in the middle of a school workshop with about 80 teachers of both sexes. Suddenly I piped out with: "Does anyone else but me think it's hot in here!" Heads turned, nope, just me! My first "hot flash". How embarrassing!

  25. eeeek!
    So me!
    What's up with the sweating? I too NEVER use to sweat. Now I sweat just walking from one end to the other of the house (and it isnt big!)
    Still have my monthly, but I am surprised every month. I feel like I have been Pre-menopausal for too many years. Im ready for it to be over!

  26. Oh....

    big hug.

    Big, big hug.

    I'm working through this whole thing myself. Mom's been gone for 23 years, and my sisters have both had hysterectomies, so I really don't have anyone genetically related to me to try to help me feel more normal.



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