A guest post from my good friend Edna Brown:
On the playground with kids during my fifth grade summer was not the ideal time to “become a lady” as grandma would say. I remember hurting in my mid-section for no reason at all. I did not recall falling or being hit in the stomach or eating anything that would have made me sick. I was confused and in agony.
I was still trying to play a game of tag football with my cousins and her friends at my aunt’s house. I was pushed down and tackled and I felt something that was unusual.
I got up and ran inside to have my aunt check me over. She told me to go into the bathroom and she would be right in to see what was wrong. I went into the bathroom and almost fainted. I thought that the world had ended and my Tomboy Days were long gone. She was shocked as well but she tried to keep me calm as she explained to me what was going on with my body. She fixed me up and gave me the “Talk”.
She called my mother – her sister, and we all cried. I thought it was too early to deal with such a thing, and my aunt could not explain why this was an issue for me at the age of eleven. She taught me all about the pads and hiding them from the boys. The purse came into my life. What a drag!
I went from competing with the guys to worrying about where I could sit my purse where they could not discover the new “issue” in my life. I started sulking and lying around the house because my life had changed so drastically. I started to have to physicals which included pap smears and other female related gynecological procedures.
My first few menstrual cycles were the classical four to five days with a light flow, so it was not a lot to manage compared to some of the other girls that I witnessed whose lives came to a screeching halt during their time of the month.
The older I got, the skipping or missed menstrual periods started. I would miss a month or two and have a cycle, miss a month or two. I questioned the doctors about this, and they said that it was normal for some teens. They suggested that I go on birth control pills to regulate my cycle.
This worked for years as far as making my cycle predictable; when I got to the different color pills it was like clockwork. When I entered my twenties and got married at the age of twenty-two, the skipping started again and this was while I was taking the pills.
Back to the doctors with more questions, they suggested that I use a different dosage and prescribed contraceptives with a stronger dose. Those pills were the devil in disguise! My cycle became more uncontrollable. I stopped taking them altogether .By the time I reached my thirties, I experienced menstrual periods only a few times a year. I asked my gynecologist if I was going through the change early, and she laughed at me.
I had started experiencing hot flashes after I drank or ate anything sweet. Sugar seems to make a personal sauna moment for me. Each time I asked a doctor about this, there were no answers and always an offer of more contraceptives. One doctor did finally say that the hot flashes and night sweats happens when the level of estrogen decreases and the body temperature rises, which meant menopause to me.
Now that I am in my forties, no children, and hot flashes galore, it is clear to me that I understood my body better than the doctors did. I rarely see a menstrual period, but I am always prepared for one just in case it happens. Since I started this rollercoaster early, maybe I will get off of it early. Then I can help others who have questions about the rollercoaster ride of their lives.