Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause, Periods

I Didn’t Pause for Menopause

When blogger Ruth Crates told me that she flew through menopause, I asked her to write us a post to present that side of  the story.  Take it away, Ruth!

Menopause?

I think I was so busy I missed it.

Since I am now 62, and I haven’t had a period in a while, I am pretty sure it happened.

Let’s back up just a little bit…

menarche

When I reached the age where periods were probable, my mom sat down with me (briefly) and we had a talk.

What I remember most about the talk was the fact that my grandmother never told my mother about the entire process.  Some subjects were just taboo in the 1930’s; this was one of them.  When her first period came, she seriously thought she was going to die and was afraid to tell anyone.   Luckily, her older sister intervened.

Even though Mom didn’t really give me a lot of information during the talk, she at least wanted to spare me the fear of the unknown.

She  gave me a little book created by Kotex  called “Now You Are 10”.  It explained everything very nicely and even had a diagram explaining how to use the little belts we had to wear to hold the sanitary napkins in place.   I never did get the hang of that!

now you are 10

Girls are always at some hormonal point in their lives.  I figure we get 10 years of no worries.

Then you have:  Premenstrual, Menstrual, Postmenstrual,  Pregnancy, Post pregnancy, Perimenopause. Menopause, and Post Menopause.  It’s the never-ending story!

I have gone through all those stages (some of them several times).

Unfortunately, now I have reached the stage which I have taken the liberty of calling “Oldness.”

I may be done with all of the above afflictions, but now there are new things  like memory-loss, confusion, arthritis, joint-replacement, and the ever popular incontinence.

As for the menopause thing, I had a pretty easy time of it.

My periods were never  regular except for a brief time in the 70’s when I was on “The Pill”.  So I can easily dismiss that symptom.

I don’t recall a single hot flash.

I did have night sweats for a long time…. maybe even as long as 10 years, but I blamed it on my mattress.

Since my periods were irregular, they were sometimes “super-heavy” and unpredictable.  I bought a rubberized bed cover to protect the mattress.  I always thought that the rubber discouraged air flow and  resulted in the sweats.  Maybe it was actually … menopause!

This I am sure of:  paranoia is a direct result of menopause.

When I turned 57, I had not had a period in several months and I began to have thoughts about being pregnant. It could happen.  These thoughts took on a life of their own and I began to obsess about it.

I had several mini-panic  attacks thinking I was pregnant.

I actually went to the doctor and had a pregnancy test done.   My doctor, thank goodness, is a woman, so I think she sensed how disturbed my thoughts were and wanted to put these fears to rest.

Of course, the results were negative, and I was quite relieved. I guess the funniest part about this obsession is that my husband had  a vasectomy 20 years earlier…. I mean, really, what were the odds!

I have always thought that obsessive and unrealistic thoughts were a side effect of menopause, at least in my case, because usually I am pretty sane.

Every woman’s menopause is different.

We should be careful not to compare our experience with others too closely. Experiencing an uneventful menopause is definitely preferable to having a difficult one.

Taking your menopausal symptoms seriously is sound procedure.

Visiting your doctor on a regular basis is just good sense.  The better your doctor knows you, the better chance you both have of being able to figure out what is going on with your body.  That is something we all need to be aware of no matter what time of life we are in.

Regardless of how you deal with the stages of your life… they are your Life.

Enjoy the changes and embrace each stage because there is always another one on the way!

Ruth profile

Ruth Crates was born and raised on a Midwest grain and livestock farm and has  lived her entire life within a 30 mile radius.  She’s  been married to a grain and livestock farmer for 41 years, and they have three children (An attorney, a carpenter, and a librarian) and three grandchildren. Ruth taught for 35 years. She’s now retired and loving it! She started blogging to record stories for her children and grandchildren. Check out her  blog at Retiredruth: Life in the 50’s and Beyond.
Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause

Guest Post: Transparency at Midlife– Let’s Have the 2nd Talk About Menopause

A guest post by Poise Menopause Blogger Lori Jo Vest:

Once you start talking about menopause, you find out all kinds of interesting things that no one told you before.

A few years back, one of my close girlfriends shared how surprised she was that the beginning of perimenopause for her meant MORE flow and MORE periods, not less, as she would have expected.

Another friend shared that she had hot flashes whenever she got anxious and they caused her face and ears to turn bright red. It usually happened in work situations and it was completely uncontrollable.

A third friend suffered from constant headaches, causing her to miss work and her favorite activities for weeks at a time.

And yet another shared that whenever she laughed or sneezed, her bladder leaked.

Personally, I tell everyone “I’m so transparent you can see right through me.”

I tell people all kinds of details that others might keep to themselves. Most thoughts go straight from my brain to my mouth – no pauses and no filters. (Fortunately, my husband appreciates it and says it makes him happy that he never has to wonder what I’m thinking.)

That may be one of the reasons I feel so fortunate to be blogging for the new Poise website and the 2nd Talk campaign. (First, we talked about puberty. Now it’s time to talk about menopause. Hence, the “2nd Talk”.)

The 2nd Talk was initiated to start an open dialogue about a topic that has been off-limits to generations of women before us. We worry that there’s something wrong with us. We worry what men will think. We don’t want people to see us as “old” so we don’t talk about the crazy new things that are happening with our bodies.

However, the more we talk about it, the more comfortable we’ll get taking care of ourselves during this next stage of life. And to help us with that self-care, Poise has developed a new line of products designed for use during menopause.

There’s a feminine wash, panty fresheners, a roll-on cooling gel, cooling towelettes and a personal lubricant – all designed to help us fabulous menopausal women feel more confident and in control.

Learn more about the 2nd Talk and the new Poise products at www.The2ndTalk.com. (Check it out here.) You can watch videos and read stories from real women sharing their experiences. We’ve brought together a select group of experts in nutrition, aging, intimacy, fitness and menopause to provide valuable articles and answer your questions. And we’ve got two bloggers – Marilyn Suttle and me – to keep the dialog flowing.

Let’s change the conversation about menopause. The more we talk, the more we’ll know. And the more we know, the more we can share with other women who are following in our footsteps.

Lori Jo Vest lives a crazy full life, like most 40+ women. A customer service and sales expert, social media fanatic, best-selling author, overachieving wife and mom to a teenager, Lori gets energy from her close relationships with her numerous girlfriends.

Those friends have become somewhat of an informal research group for changes women in their 40s through 60s experience – like hot flashes and erratic periods – that Lori found herself going through as she hit her late 40s. She’s always enjoyed sharing what she’s learned in the business realm. Now she’s discovered how her experiences can help women who are also in this transitional phase.

Me:  I met Lori Jo Vest at the Bloomer Party at BlogHer.  She’s very real and lots of fun. I’m glad she’ll be blogging for Poise and glad to introduce her to all of you.

Poise is offering us a way COOL giveaway. Watch for it in a week or so!

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause, PMS

A Great Resource: The North American Menopause Society

Founded in 1989, the North American Menopause Society is, in their words:

North America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging.

Its multidisciplinary membership of 2,000 leaders in the field – including clinical and basic science experts from medicine, nursing, sociology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy, and education – allows NAMS to be uniquely qualified to provide information that is both accurate and unbiased, not for or against any point of view.

See how important we menopausal types are. There’s a whole society in our honor.

And wow, is their website an amazing resource.  Here is the link, front and center, so you can’t miss it:

http://www.menopause.org

You’ll probably find the most  useful information in the section headed “For Women” (as opposed to the section for healthcare professionals):

http://www.menopause.org/Consumers.aspx

Do learn your way around this excellent resource.  The section on sexual health in menopause is quite well done, and especially useful as the sex stuff can hit you with a bang (no distasteful pun intended) and can be awkward to talk about:

http://www.menopause.org/sex.aspx

Thanks, American Menopause Society.

I‘m off to BlogHer on Thursday, thanks to the Estroven Good Sleep Challenge. If you’re going and want to meet for breakfast or lunch or a drink, shoot me an email!

Dry Babe!  In thanks for your enthusiastic response to the Dry Babe sleepwear giveaway, Wendy Collettt is offering Friend for the Ride readers a 15% discount. When you check out, use the code Friend15.

Aging, Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause

The Estroven Good Sleep Challenge

The nightgown above was mine!  My mom saved it all these years.

And when I wore it, I bet anything I slept tight all night long. I used to pile the bed high with my dolls and animals, and go sailing off to dreamland.

And remember how we slept as teenagers!  Now that’s what I call SLEEPING.

Even in my early married years, I could sleep and so could Cliff.  Once, when we had a house guest, we slept until noon. She was up much earlier than we were, and I’m realizing now how rude that was  (Sorry, Evelyn).

But when perimenopause inched my way, I started to wake up in the middle of the night. I finally figured out I might as well just get up. I did projects like cleaning out toy boxes or writing Christmas cards.  But it sure was cold in this old house on some of those Christmas card nights. After about two hours, I could finally fall asleep again.

Middle of the night waking changed to something I find even more annoying:  early morning waking. The rooster in my brain goes off, and cock-a-doodle-do, I’m awake without a farmer’s prayer of going back to sleep again. My mind spins like the whirligig on my back porch. I throw off the covers and give up. And then I get up.

So many women have trouble sleeping, thanks to the hormonal issues of perimenopause and menopause. Mine has improved some since The Great Pause set in, but I do still have issues with early morning waking.

A few months ago, Estroven approached me, inviting me to participate as a blogger in their Good Sleep Challenge. I’ll be taking Estroven Nightime and blogging about my experience on the Estroven site. Estroven is inviting others to sign up for the challenge.  Check it out here (and find a great coupon)!!

To thank me for participating, Estroven is sending me to BlogHer 2012 in NYC in August.  I hope to meet up with other menopause/midlife bloggers there as well as gather up tips to improve my blog.  Let me know if you’re planning on attending!

Back to sleeping troubles. What about you?  Do you sleep like a little girl or have the winds of menopause blown the sandman far, far away?

Photo: The nightgown belonged to me, but the Mary Had a Little Lamb clothes hanger brightened my mom’s closet in the 1920’s.

Aging, Menopause, Perimenopause, Periods

From the Other Side of the Kotex Box

I love these old Kotex ads!  They make me feel a part of the sisterhood of the ages even though I’m not having periods anymore.

But I thought being finished would feel more joyful.

Like winning a free trip to Barcelona or losing ten pounds on a diet of peanut butter fudge.

I’m disappointed to report, it doesn’t.

I thought I’d be constantly thinking, wow, no period to worry about this month.

But I don’t.

I guess my time of the month was replaced by other problems and quandaries brought on by The Great Pause.

Or maybe my menopausal mind is so iffy that I’ve forgotten what PMS and periods are like.

Or maybe I just can’t get over the shock that so many years have gone by.

Those of you who are finished, what about you?

 Is a period-free life all you thought it would be? Do you wake up every day shouting, “Yipee!” or has that old pesty nemesis faded from your thoughts?

And those of you still struggling with cramps or flooding or spotting or any other yucky period stuff, am I nuts?

Speak up, oh readers on either side of the Kotex box!

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause, Skin

Ten Tips from the Menopause Owl

“WHOO!  WHOO,” says the Wise Ms. Menopause Owl. “I have ten tips for you!”

Not.

I tricked you, so you would read my post.  I don’t know if there really IS a Menopause Owl, but until she makes her apprearance, I’ll post these tips myself.

I researched the reasons why owls are revered for their wisdom.  One is they can see in the dark.  How cool if we could see our way through the sometimes darkness of menopause with special eyes.

I sure couldn’t.  But here are some tips I would give a younger me right before the Great Pause hooted my way.

1. Speak up-about moodiness, physical symptoms, all of it. Don’t suffer in silence.

2. Don’t make a stranger of your doctor. Visit. Email. Call. Ask. And if after a visit or so, your doctor still feels like a stranger, find another doctor.

3. Don’t expect menopause to necessarily be a quick process. For me, one symptom would go away but another would appear. This is still happening!

4. Be watchful of  what you eat. I found all the menopause weight gain stories to be true.  The weight flies on. I wish I had been more careful.

5. If doctors, therapists, and buddies are suggesting you are depressed and need medication, explore the possibility that this is the Great Pause first.  (Guest post on this topic to come.)

6. Lotions and creams are your magic potions: moisturizer, sunscreen, conditioners, and lubricants. Estrogen cream may rescue you from vaginal dryness, which can cause not only pain but intense pressure.

7. If you find yourself tossing in bed for more than a half hour or so, sometimes it’s best to just get up for a while. This wiggles my brain around and puts it back into a sleep mode.  I let myself get wide awake, contrary to the advice in most articles. I write, do dishes, straighten drawers, answer email, whatever.

8. Exercise does everything it promises to. Big bad hormones hate exercise . It scares them away, making you feel better, sometimes within the first ten minutes or so.

9. Make changes. As you feel  yourself changing, make some.  Small changes, larger ones. Good ones.  Change helps us climb out of ruts and feel like we’re the boss, which in many ways we are!

10. Appreciate the sisterhood of the ages.  Women have gone through menopause for centuries. Let their spirits bolster yours.

Photo: The owl above lives on the first outfit I bought for my grandson-to-be. More funky than classic, I found the decorated onesie at an arts festival in Durham. I hope my grandson will have wise eyes and steady wings and lots of fun as he flaps and soars through life.

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause

Puzzled: Putting the Menopausal Pegs Together

For those of you just approaching menopause, who are technically in the years known as “perimenopause,” there’s a bit of advice at the end of this post (and hopefully others will chime in with some too).  One of the most confusing aspects of the whole shebang to me was figuring out what symptoms might be menopause and what symptoms might be signals of a serious health concern.

It’s majorly weird when things are going on with your body and your mind, and you’re not sure what the deal is.

New, odd stuff would be happening to me  (bugs crawling up my arm (read it here) being the strangest).  Could this be menopause?  I’d go to one of the lists such as 34 Menopause Symptoms, and I’d usually find it it there.  Yep, it’s menopause.

Women should come with personalized instruction books.  Now there’s an idea!  If I could run the world, I would institute that plan (and give each book a funky, upbeat cover).

Menopause is a puzzle. For me it was one of the biggest puzzles of my life.  A physical puzzle.  A mental puzzle. An emotional puzzle.  I love puzzles, but not being a puzzle whiz, it took me a while to get my pegs in a row.

And so the bit of advice:  expect to be puzzled.  Expect to have some worries.  Expect to feel like, yep, you’re riding a roller coaster.  And as you work to put your pegs into your very own puzzle, be patient.

Photo:  My Puzzle-Peg game is a version of peg solitaire.  A Wiki history says peg solitaire games probably go back to the days of Louis XIV. The first artistic rendering of someone playing peg solitaire dates to 1697.  Here she is:  Anne de Rohan-Chabot, Princess of Soubise, in the engraving you see below.  I don’t know what ya’ll think, but The Princess looks menopausal and puzzled to me: