Thursday
Feb282013

A Mrs. G. Social Inquiry: "The Change"

New Year's Eve party aboard the shantyboat Lazy Bones

A derf posted an interesting (and slightly alarming, to Mrs. G. anyway) question about peri-menopause on the Derf Assist List. None of the women in Mrs. G's family ever discussed menopause. Mrs. G. isn't sure whether this was because they didn't have remarkable symptoms or because it was an unmentionable subject. Mrs. G. remembers watching Edith go through The Change on All in the Family and really wondering how exactly she was changing, the subject approached about as clear as dishwater.

So, if you have experienced any symtoms of peri-menopause or menopause, could you share them here (and how you alleviated them if it was possible), help shed a little light on the topic?

Considering sharing this post with other women friends so we can have the broadest discussion.

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Reader Comments (66)

Watching with high interest... My mother blamed 25 years of (what I now know to be depression) psychopathic mood swings, crying "I can't help it! I'm going through The Change! I could only silently wish she would hurry up goddamit and change already. I have no idea what to expect.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

The only major symptom I'm dealing with (at 46) is hot flashes. The are infrequent (I'm using Black Cohash tincture--available at Whole Foods) but when they hit, I feel like I'm being microwaved and the sweat smells like panic sweat (if that makes sense). I had some night sweats last year but they have stopped. I also had an early, unexpected period show up this month that seemed like a harbinger of things to come.

February 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

I'm including K's Assist List comment so we can stay on the same page:

"So, I'm not really sure how far I am in to this peri-menopause thing, but am I the only one traveling down this road in the dark? Why so much mystery? I'm going to let loose with a few things here and if it's over-share, please feel free to delete, Mrs. G.

To get straight to the point, my va-jay-jay is changing, and my clitoris is GONE. I thought something truly weird was happening to my body, so I did the Google and yes, this is normal during peri-menopause. The vaginal tissue begins to shrink, including the magic button. And it really upsets me, because my hubby and I have always done well in the bedroom area, and now it's going to be a serious workout to get me going.

I suppose I could talk to my obgyn about HRT, but to be honest, I'm hesitant because of so many horror stories. Has anyone done HRT, and what were your experiences, good or bad?"

February 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

I started the perimenopause stage at around 41 with very occasional hot flashes. Then I started getting the periods from hell. I had always been the every 28 days at 4 PM lasts 3.5 days cycle for the previous 28 years. I was still pretty regular, but they were heavy and painful and lasting an average of 7 days. I read one of those "going thru the change" books and IIRC the author said this was normal and actually called it (I kid you not) "gushing." Doctor then informed me that I had fibroids and that was what was causing the heavy periods. He said I could have a myomectomy (just remove the fibroids), but since I had never had and would never have children, I opted for the easier and more efficient hysterectomy -- a move I have never regretted. I kept my ovaries since I was only 41 and figured I still be using them for about 10 years. FF to about 4 years ago, I went to my endocrinologist for my regular thyroid checkup and asked about hormone replacement therapy for my hot flashes and mood swings. Turned out I had no more free-range estrogen; I was in menopause. I was rather concerned about the cancer tie-in and asked him. He said that over time the studies had proved nothing more than the slightest greater propensity for cancer. Another move I have not regretted. I still flash, but they are not as drenching and smelly as before. The last symptom is what I call menopausal insomnia. I will occasionally (usually when I am under stress) ping! awake in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep. I just solve that by getting out of bed and watching something inane on TV for a little while. This has only messed with the next day a few times over the years.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

When I had major breast tenderness several months back, some doula/naturopath friends steered me to a regimen of evening primrose oil and iodine drops... It took just a couple weeks to feel completely well in the breast area and that has not been a problem since! Also added a violet tincture that a friend made for me.
Re: monthly bleeding: For 3-4 years (I am 48) my monthly period has been very abbreviated, like 2 days and sometimes just spotting. Suddenly last Dec I started bleeding heavily and it lasted about 10 days before my dr. prescribed progesterone, which stopped it. Then I did not have a period for 2 months. Finally started again and was the 2 day "normal" that I now am used to. Weird business. I did not expect that at all, but my hormones were obviously way out of whack.
Had some hot flashes occasionally over the past year or so, but not remarkable. Night sweats occasionally but not too bothersome. The shrinking violet thing I did not know about. Have not experienced changes in actual sensation or performance, only in desire to get started IYKWIM.
{{{sigh}}}

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKellyK

I've been in menopause now for 8 or so years. I don't remember my mother, or my grandmothers ever talking about this either, so I really had no reference. Mine started with the hot flashes. Mrs. G, I totally get what you mean with panic sweat. My hot flashes have always signaled themselves with a momentary panic feeling before the inferno hits. Like you suddenly remembered you have a math test you didn't study for. I, like K, was skeptical about ingesting pregnant mare urine, so I looked into natural, plant based (bioidentical) hormone replacement therapy. You can get it if you have a compounding pharmacy in your town, which I was pleased to find that even little bitty Fargo did! I took that stuff for about 5 years and all it really did for me was to relive my foggy thinking, it really never did much for the hot flashes. Today, I've eased myself off of everything, except for a high blood pressure medication which really helps relieve the heart palpitations. :)

I was also lucky enough to run across Ellen Dolgen, who wrote a book and maintains a fabulous website called http://www.shmirshky.com/ - (her term for va jay jay). This is where I learned all about the things my mother never talked about!

Well, that's my 2 cents worth. Looking forward to reading more!

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLala

I've been in menopause now for 8 or so years. I don't remember my mother, or my grandmothers ever talking about this either, so I really had no reference. Mine started with the hot flashes. Mrs. G, I totally get what you mean with panic sweat. My hot flashes have always signaled themselves with a momentary panic feeling before the inferno hits. Like you suddenly remembered you have a math test you didn't study for. I, like K, was skeptical about ingesting pregnant mare urine, so I looked into natural, plant based (bioidentical) hormone replacement therapy. You can get it if you have a compounding pharmacy in your town, which I was pleased to find that even little bitty Fargo did! I took that stuff for about 5 years and all it really did for me was to relive my foggy thinking, it really never did much for the hot flashes. Today, I've eased myself off of everything, except for a high blood pressure medication which really helps relieve the heart palpitations. :)

I was also lucky enough to run across Ellen Dolgen, who wrote a book and maintains a fabulous website called http://www.shmirshky.com/ - (her term for va jay jay). This is where I learned all about the things my mother never talked about!

Well, that's my 2 cents worth. Looking forward to reading more!

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLala

Same here with nobody in my family ever talking about this stuff. Just before my 50th birthday in September I had some sort of major hormonal upheaval with horrendous hot flashes and generally feeling kind of sick all the time. I skipped a period or two for the first time since I was a teen and I knew The Change was upon me for real. Since then, I've cut out caffeine to tame the heart palpitations, alchohol to ease the hot flashes and started taking oil of evening primrose capsule. Things have settled down and I'm having fairly regular periods again and feel better in general. Now if I can only find something to tame the new body hair growth before I turn into Sasquatch...

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter~annie

My libido has plummeted and that hasn't been my nature for the last 25 years. It's a drag.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnon Today

I've lost body hair on all the previously hairy places and gained it on my face. It's awesome.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLou

Given this inquiry, I'm going to keep this ID for a bit. I'm fifty, fifty one in a few months. I'm still getting very heavy periods and only one hot flash so far. In case anyone doesn't know, my doctor explained that when you get to a certain point in perimenopause, you start something called anovulation, which means you no longer release eggs during your period which is caused by depletion of progesterone, which makes the lining thicker and causes the tsunami-like periods. I was also getting periods that were 2 to 4 weeks long with intermittent heavy and feather light blood loss. That was worse than the heavy ones which last only 5 or 6 days. My doctor suggested eating soy (tofu or soy beans, not the soy meat replacers) to balance out my estrogen and that seemed to regulate my periods again. They are back to being heavier, but at least predictable. Also, with the heavy periods came tremendous iron loss which resulted in devastating hair loss. If this is happening to you, get your ferritin checked. I opted not to take iron pills, but ate a couple of tiny rare steaks every week, lots and lots of leafy greens and in the morning 2 tablespoons of unsulphured blackstrap molasses followed by an orange. The vitamin C helps iron absorption, but I had to leave coffee and red wine alone, as they inhibit iron absorption. This along with the tofu, and wonder of wonders, almost all of my hair has grown back in. It took a few months, so patience is required. Please know I am not advising anyone, simply that this worked for me. Please check with your own doctor. The loss of vaginal sensitivity hasn't happened yet, but I am most interested to know more about it.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterembarrassedanonymous

I too had fibroids; and when I couldn't deal with that anymore I had a partial hysterectomy. Kept the ovaries and the cervix. So I had no very clear indication when menopause was beginning in earnest; until the hot flash episodes started getting worse. I truly felt like my head was on fire, engulfed in flames. It was overwhelming; everything would come to a halt while I would try to cope with those sensations and not pass out. And that went on for a couple of years. : ( I never did the hormone therapy and have not noticed any outward physical changes to any of my parts; are there topical hormonal creams that would help? When I was much younger and suffering hormonal hell, I was prescribed a simple progesterone creme, applied to the skin of my inner arms. Also, would acupuncture help? I always meant to try that but never got it together and made the appointments.
I am 52, and I am glad to be done with it. It wasn't really that much of a "change" at all. Just my hormones taking one last bash at trying to screw up my life and kill me off. I guess I'm grateful for what they brought to the party...

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

Embarrassed makes a good point. None of us (that I know of) are doctors. This is purely anecdotal information, which is usually where I get the best info to discuss with my healthcare provider.

February 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

This is a great topic! I hit full menopause at age 40 (I'm now 55) and it was tough the first few years. My now I don't mind it a bit, rare hot flashes, no period and my body has returned to normal. I don't mind sharing - so you can ask me anything that you want.
The first year it was a bit tough on our sex life. Same as you, clitoris felt different and vv was dry when that was never the case before. I found lube to be of much assistance (I had to get over the embarssment of needing/buying it). You and your husband can find new ways to stimulate you (it'll be fun trying new stuff).
The hot flashes were awful and lasted a few years. Now I rarely get them. I hated the tingley feeling in my hands and feet just before they hit. I swear my temp could hit 105 in 60 second! My face would go red and the sweat would start. The quickest way for me to stop them was to throw off the sheet, wet a cold wash rag (I kept one by my bed at night) and lay it on my chest. If I was out of the house I would wet my hands/arms in cold water in whatever restroom was available. Tried HRT but I did not like the way it made me feel.
I have a little bit more to say, but I am leaving for home and I'll check back later to see if anyone has questions or comments.
You ladies are wonderful for not being afraid to talk about this!

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Other Kay

I'm 47. Last year I had 1 period in March... and then went on vacation in August and had another period. Then none until last month. I started with irregular periods and wicked migraines, hot flashes etc in my early 40s and my doctor prescribed Prometrium - plant based progesterone - peanuts, I think. That helped the monthly migraines and regulated my periods, but once my periods got super irregular again, I stopped Prometrium, figuring I'd let nature take it's course. I also did acupuncture for several years and that helped a lot - specifically for heart palpitations, migraines and anxiety. I'm taking care of a chronically sick child right now and don't have time to get to acupuncture and it's making me crazy. All the symptoms are better when I reduce sugar/processed foods and caffeine and when I EXERCISE (and meditate and go to acupuncture.) My favorite hot flash remedy is apple cider vinegar in water twice a day. When I had wicked flashes this past summer, that remedy cut them down considerably.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErin

My biggest symptom has been period irregularity - it's like that quote from Forrest Gump, they're like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get. They've gotten at least on some semblance of a schedule, even if it's a shorter cycle than I would like, but the rest - heavy, light, painful, unnoticed...I never know. This is why I always have supplies in my purse.

Then there's the libido....it's gone most of the time, but when it returns, OH BOY does it return. We try to take advantage of that whenever possible. My understanding is that it returns when the change is done and I would like that very much.

Another one is memory issues. I always had a great memory, but between being over 40 and perimenopause, sometimes I wonder where my brain went. My doctor said this is normal. I don't care. I don't like it.

Evening Primrose Oil helps even things out. It doesn't prevent them, but it makes the swings a little less dramatic.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranother anon

I posted in the "Derf Assist" comments. Feel free to move it to this thread, Mrs. G.!

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllie

From E, over at the Assist List

"I had my first symptoms of peri-menopause before age 40 and was done with periods by age 45. Then I began the nightmare years of trying to find HRT that didn't cause endless bleeding, brutal migraines and other lovely side effects. I had a high risk of osteoporosis so it was recommended I spend at least five years on HRT. I was already exercising three to four times a week, eating reasonably well, and drinking very little alcohol (it gave me killing migraines). In desperation, I read "The Wisdom of Menopause" and decided to try bio-identical hormones. My GP gave me a referral to a pharmacist that specializes in compounding client-specific HRT creams, and I did a saliva test that determined what my body was lacking. I now use a progesterone cream 25 days per month, and an estrogen vaginal cream 2-3 times a week. It took a few months, but the change was remarkable. At the age of 55, I rarely have migraines, intercourse is not excruciatingly painful, I sleep through most nights, and don't have the hot flashes that disturbed my sleep. I also discovered that KY is alcohol based, and was actually aggravating the dryness issues. I now use jojoba oil (any health food store) which is a bit messier but infinitely better for a menopausal va-jay-jay. You would have to pry my prescriptions out of my cold, dead fingers because I tell you that life was NOT joyful without them. It is such a cruel thing to discover that your libido disappears just at the time of life when you and your spouse finally have the time and empty nest to make it easier to find playtime. NO-ONE TOLD ME that this was likely to happen. I spent years searching for answers that would allow me to have a somewhat normal sex life in my loving and happy marriage. Women have to talk about this natural change and what to expect, and this is another reason why I love "The Manor". No subject is off limits and we women have to stick together. (Sorry, Gary!)"

February 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

I'm with Lynne. According to my mother she was going through the change for about 20 years. It was her go to excuse for the crazy. She passed away at 54.
I'm 51 and updating my younger sister on my symptoms as we have no family history really.
So about 48 I started on a slow simmer. I am never cold. Not pleasant but bearable and not extreme. I always had heavy periods so didn't notice any difference. About a year ago I started skipping periods, and got some breast swelling and tenderness.
I haven't had a period now since december, but I've had 2 bouts of hot flushes. That was new.
I'm not taking anything except some regular medications I was already taking.
I guess it really hasn't been extreme enough yet to really bother me.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah J

I have had the occasional hot flash (accompanied by the urge to take as many of my clothes off as possible, just to cool down - luckily THAT passes quickly.) I tried HR when I was 52 (55 now) and honestly felt like it made very little difference in anything (except I started to bleed again) so decided that that was an unnecessary drug. And my libido appears to have completely left the room, much to my frustration (not to mention my husband's). It has become a real effort - always worth it in the end, but a real challenge at the start.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermomwhoknits

It seems we're talking predominantly about physical symptoms here, but I've found that the mental ones are much more discombobulating. Nothing quite compares to looking over at your husband in bed and thinking, "Who the hell is this? And he wants me to do WHAT?!"

The article Jenn referred to in a post of hers was somewhat helpful. It posits that the years before the onset of menses and after menopause are what is "normal" for us - it is that weird interregnum of fertility when we are really not ourselves.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent

My mother had talked about heavier periods as a symptom of menopause and it made me cry; tsunami-like periods are what finally earned me a hysterectomy 12 years ago. I still have my ovaries and it has finally occurred to me that the migraines I've been experiencing are probably related to peri-menopause. I had hot flashes during pregnancy, so I know they are on their way -- my body reacts strongly to hormonal changes. The idea of giving up coffee and red wine is distressing, but I'm taking notes here.
Thank you, ladies, for sharing your experiences.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

Does anyone have any suggestions or things that worked for you regarding the dead libido? I agree getting started is the hardest part but I miss my old zing.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

@Julie - Zestra works well for me. Expensive, but worth it - I think there must be a way to duplicate the formula w/ essential oils, etc.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranon for right now

I posted over on the assist list post, hope it helps !

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbramble

From Bramble over on the Assist List:

"Kelley- Don't know if my experiences will help but here goes. I didn't really have anyone to compare notes w/ as my Mom had a hysterectomy early as a preventive measure after she had a mastectomy at 34. So when my extremely heavy periods needed to be treated as anemia was becoming an issue they dangled a hysterectomy as a "solution" but I am not a candidate for HRT due to Mom's history. So I opted for a D&C and my cycle became relatively normal again @ 50 for about a year. Then I went 9 months with no monthly and some of the same symptoms you are concerned about. Then I had 4 months of cycle. Slightly better, though hormones were definitely causing : from my feet to my head hot flashes immediately followed by being cold, moisture issues and a change in the "external apparatus". For me black cohosh, valerian, and rasperry capsules have helped alot w/ the flashing. There is an organic cream (sweet potato based that seems to help the hormonal shift in the lady bits. There is also a series and books by Dr. Christianne Northrup that deals with "the change" and all that goes along with it. She is very factual, direct yet it's all the info you wish someone had thought to tell you. And she makes you feel good about all that's happening to you in a sort of matriarchal way that I love since I never got to go through this w/ my senior family members and share their knowledge and experiences. We are still "active" just a few things have shifted, so I hope this helps."

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. G.

Suburban, I do notice mental issues. I have trouble finding the right word and my spelling capability has decreased. I've also noticed a little less overall joy in my life.

I'm curious if anyone has noticed any changes in odor?

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnon for this

This is a subject that my best friend and I have discussed recently. Why did no one tell us what this would be like? I'm 50 going on 51. When I asked my midwife last year at my annual exam, her answer was "everyone is different." For some reason, my libido is like that of a (as the Profesor says) 14 year old boy. I have never had a hot flash nor night sweats but I am generally warmer than I used to be, which is a good thing. My migraines are less frequent than they were in my 30s and 40s. My periods have entered the erratic stage and I'm looking forward to an end. There were the very heavy flooding periods in my mid-40s but they evened themselves out. The last two cycles ran 44 and 14 days, respectively. Both with some pretty heavy bleeding. I take black cohosh and dong quai daily except during my periods. As for loss of vaginal tissue, one thing that my midwife did say that was helpful is that the key to keeping your vagina, etc. healthy is to keep using it. Like everything else related to the body, use it or lose it. It makes sense. As for the pyschological aspects, cutting back on wine helps as does as small dose of marijuana in the evening. And yoga. Yoga makes everything better.

Thank you Mrs. G for a place to talk about this. I find women's bodies so fascinating.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarms37

I am 43 and have been perimenopausal fopr at least 1 year now... and find this very enlightening as I share many of the symptoms I have read above. Hot flashes can really get out of hand - I take a natural supplement called I-3-C (Indo 3 Carbinol), and it helps a lot as does staying away from alcohol & caffiene (my 2 BFF's).
I didn't know about the "shrinking violet" but it makes sense to me as I have wondered why it takes so much more work or a good set of batteries to accomplish what used to be a piece of cake and a free pass to a little slice of 'heaven'!
Question - does the easiness of pleasure ever come back, or do we just not care as much as the libido doesn't return either?

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

I have been thinking about all the things I did not know about too. I am almost 56, my mom had a hysterectomy when she was in her early 30's, she did not really believe in talking about anything related to bodies. I started peri menopause at about 48, erratic massive periods and mood swings. I sort of expected the mood swings because I had them when I was pregnant as well as when I first started having periods.

I did not get medication, spoke with my doctor and decided to grit my teeth for awhile. Had night sweats, not as bad as many but certainly annoying. What was worst for me was the waking up and being unable to go back to sleep, I still struggle with that. I carried pads in my car, at work and in my suitcase until about 3years ago, because I just wasn't sure they were really gone.

Desire decreased for a while, it has returned. Moisture levels are definitely lower. Hopefully you and your partner can explore fun ways to resolve that. It's good to have a place to ask other women what their experience is/was. I think we lost that tribal knowledge when we shifted to nuclear family units, especially. In urban settings. (Sorry the social anthropologist in me snuck out)

Listen to your body,it's trying to tell you what it needs, be flexible and patient with yourself.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKlcrab

I think we should trademark "shrinking violet."

February 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

I probably should not weigh in on this. I had a bit of peri-menopausal symptoms. Went to my doc and he prescribed something...2 different pills, but it's been so long ago I don't remember exactly what. A month later I had a lump in my breast. Turned out to be cyst that was aspirated. Stopped with the pills... One was an estrogen and the other ??? So several years later I started skipping periods.. Every other month. Then went several months before another and about 55 or 56 I was done. Hot flashes? Nope. Depression? Nope. Nasty to the kids? I don't think so, but you might have to ask them. No husband at that time so had no one causing me problems. It was easy. Good luck to all of you.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGail

I LOVE the term 'shrinking violet'!

I am so glad that there are so many of us here that are discussing this. When I was young, there was quite a build up to getting your first period. You had the movie at school (I believe ours was done by Disney), the brochure, the samples; it was all quite mysterious. And, I had read 'Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret' so many times, I can't even begin to count. Where's the eff-ing Disney film about menopause? Why don't women discuss it, other than to use it as an excuse to act like a loon?

I've had a few hot flashes this past summer that were horrible. I began taking Celexa for anxiety, so I haven't really noticed any issues with mood swings. My period is still pretty regular, and lasts about 4 days. I'm terrified of the gushing. My mom had serious problems with fibroids and ended up getting a hysterectomy. Other than the shrinking violet, I'm experiencing severe itching and dryness. The only thing I've found that gives me any relief from the itching and dryness is organic coconut oil. I'm loving coconut oil for everything right now! I have 2 jars in the bathroom, one for face and body and one for more intimate areas.

I really hope that some of the mystery of menopause can be dispelled. Obviously, every woman's experiences are going to be different, but at least we can share what we're going through and hopefully help someone else out.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelley

Kelley, do tell more about the coconut oil. Where do you get it? Brand? How do you apply it? As you can see, this one has me very intrigued, but I'm a little scared to be putting foodstuff in places where it could grow into other problems.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

OMG, this was just posted on a board I frequent. It's somehow appropriate. Hope it doesn't offend.

Where do red-headed babies come from ?

After their baby was born, the panicked father went to see the Obstetrician.
'Doctor,' the man said, 'I don't mind telling you, but I'm a little upset
because my daughter has red hair. She can't possibly be mine!!'

'Nonsense,' the doctor said...'Even though you and your wife both have black
hair, one of your ancestors may have contributed red hair to the gene pool.'

'It isn't possible,' the man insisted.
'This can't be, our families on both sides had jet-black hair for
generations.'

"Well, said the doctor, let me ask you this.

How often do you have sex ???"

The man seemed a bit ashamed..'I've been working very hard for the past
year. We only made love once or twice every few months.'

'Well , there you have it !' The doctor said confidently....

" It's Rust .."

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

Libido? What's that? Do I not remember because I can't remember ANYTHING anymore, or is that just the peri-menopause speaking too? Dryness, lack of libido, and foggy memory are the most prominent symptoms for me at age 51. Fortunately the hot flashes are few and are more extremely warm than hot. When I started peri-menopause, my periods came closer together mixed in with the normal 28 days. Now they are farther apart and/or skipping entirely. Due to this I'm actually sleeping better and less moody because for 37 years I had a horrible week of insomnia, nightmares, anxiety and moodiness preceding my period.

This has been so informative. Thanks to all you Derfs for sharing.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArli

Hmmmm....I haven't noticed any changes in the va-jay-jay, but I haven't really done a lot of inspection, either. You're right about the libido changes.

My change was not all that terrible - periods were heavier and somewhat more uncomfortable for a while, but not unbearably so. The hot flashes were surprising, almost comical. I experienced sporadic hot flashes - I would have, say, three months when they came a lot, and then go six months without one. At which point I would tell myself, "hey, I guess that's it!" and then a month or two later, I'd go back into another three month stretch of having hot flashes. This went on for a couple of years, but then finally it stopped.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow

Janet, I get the organic coconut oil at Trader Joe's for $5.99 for a big jar. You want to look for virgin, non-hydrogenated organic oil. I have always had naturally oily skin and still get break outs. I've been applying a tiny bit of coconut oil to my face after I wash off my make up, and not only has my skin cleared up, but I don't even get oily skin anymore. I use it on my legs after shaving, and you can use it as a hair treatment, too. There have been some studies that suggest that using coconut oil can help with improving memory also. And since it's naturally anti-microbial and anti-fungal, you can use it to relieve dryness, and I have heard that some people use it as a lube, too. It's very effective, and a little bit goes a long way! Try googling '50+ uses for coconut oil' and you'll find tons of articles.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelley

Anon for this, not sure what you mean by odor, but I had noticed I was developing a strong body odor...as if I had worked out all day instead of parking my generous backside in a chair in front of the computer in my office. Did a little research on the interwebs and found a reference to diminished magnesium and/or zinc. In my fervor to reduce/eliminate odors I resorted to using both. If I had been thoughtful about it I would have done one and then the other to see if it made a difference. It's working and I don't smell like the inside of a high school gym locker, thankfully.

As to other symptoms, am almost done with the hot flashes and they were quite annoying. I noticed that lack of alcohol helped keep them at bay, so I've reduced my alcohol level to about 1 - 2 drinks/month. It helped with the heat, that's for sure.

Never did HRT. Had the forgetfulness thing going at about age 50. I think that's improved, but it could be I just don't give a rat's ass any more. Word finding is becoming a bit of a problem. Better sleeping habits and limited alcohol help that problem somewhat.

Oh, the joys.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter1Les

For my 50th birthday last December I skipped my period for the first time since I was pregnant. I was jazzed because they have become heavier and longer yet remained steady every 28 days like clockwork. My mother stopped menstruating at 48 without any appreciable symptoms of menopause. She never felt the need for hrt. She remains the gorgeous, healthy woman she has always been. Her experience gave me a lot of confidence in facing this life event.

My joy about the end of my periods was short-lived when 2 weeks after my skipped period I had an odd, very light period and followed that up with my regularly scheduled blood bath 2 weeks later - right on my old schedule. I'm talking crazy bleeding of the type that requires strategic planning and massive amounts of supplies and laundry. I was that girl in the tampax commercial swimming and riding her horse and wearing white pants while simultaneously menstruating. No more. Those days are gone.

I have always felt blessed that I had a great relationship with my body. I could feel when I ovulated each month. A strange little twinge one side or the other of my uterus. I had regular periods. No unusually heavy bleeding. No pms. No headaches. Only occasional mild cramping. But over the last year or so I have what I now refer to as shark weeks due to what feels like a violent change in my physiology.

So far the changes I've experienced include palpitations (which produced my first ever full blown anxiety attack), heavy bleeding, mental fuzziness and forgetfulness, PMS-like symptoms of anger/frustration/grief that seem to last for a week before and after my period, crazy bad skin eruptions which make me sad because I never suffered from acne but now I am being scarred up from cystic zits and even the dermatologist feels it is due to crazy hormonal fluctuation.

I haven't noticed vaginal dryness or any changes in the geography of my body yet. Libido is as all over the place as my hormones and sometimes I am blown away by just the smell of a man.

What a great topic for discussion. I was lucky to be raise by a woman who comfortably discussed bodies and sexuality and health with all her children. But, her experience with menopause is already different from my own and I am so curious about how it will play out.

Thanks for the heads up embarassedanonymous. I am going to have my iron levels checked because I have been losing hair and feeling unusually fatigued. Thanks to all the wonderful derfs who are sharing and to Mrs. G for creating such a comfortable space to "talk".

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Put me down for hot flashes, aphasia, excessive hair growth, a seriously uncharacteristic tendency to sob and howl at the moon two days out of every month, and a GALLOPING libido--wait a minute. Is this menopause or lycanthropy? Hmmm...

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSungmanitu

I am flicking through here briefly, and saw the "sorry gary" which cracks me up. I am 47 soon, and the wife several years older. (as a matter of fact, her birthday this week! she is one hawt mama too! Lucky me :)
a) She would hate me talking about her, but I will say this: her friends talk as you do, about hot flashes etc and wonder why she does NOT have that experience. My wife is deep into her 50s, and we are strict vegetarians for years. I am too lazy to look for research right now, but she will explain herself this way: Japanese women hardly experience hot flashes etc. because of the soy they eat and the rest of their diet 9she is not japanese but such is our diet).
b) women will, of course roll their eyes, rightly so, when I tell you men go through a change too. NO, nothing like you of course, but I suddenly turned 44 and my eyes changed drastically and I could not read street signs OR print (eye doctor says it is normal), lost a lot of my apetite, and as I have read other men say, WTF is up with the digestion? Gassy as hell some days and upset stomach other days? My doctor shrugs and puts it down as normal for the 40s :) and, well, my libido is less like my 19 year old self....

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rith

@ Kelly - I'm stealing 'shark week' - that's gold!!

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I started a few years ago with a heavier than normal period lasting at least seven days. What I found so aggravating was thinking I was done, go a day....and then plop....SURPRISE for a day or two more. This lasted more than a year. What I have expereinced for the last couple years are the hot flashes during the day and like at 2am, 3am and 4am that wake me up, sweating like crazy.

At work, there are several of us, the same age, going through the same thing. You know how they say women living in the same house cycle the same time? I think we are all going through menopause "cycling" the same. We all have fans at our desk, which makes it easy, you have them all over the building in case you need one.

My libido is pretty much gone and it bothers me that DH and I are out of sync.....but I am almost at my magical "year" without a period and don't miss that at all.

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy

I think that I am on my 10th year of perimenopause...seems to go on forever. I'm 55 and can't complain too much as though I suffer from fibroids, I haven't had the usual symptoms...just the poochy tummy. And they do seem to shrink as I come closer to hitting honest to goodness menopause. Hot flashes, usually after my coffee in the morning and sometimes during the night, but all handleable (if that's a word).

The one and only symptom that I could really do without (Kelly, I feel your pain) is the PALPITATIONS! They drive me crazy. Been to cardio, had all the tests, and know everything is ok, but they still drive me crazy!

There will be much celebrating in this house once the hormones settle down again.

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie Jane

Thanks, Gary! I was wondering about the Japanese/soy info. Supposedly there aren't equivalent words for menopausal symptoms in Japanese because women there don't really experience it the way Western women do. Either there's a grain of truth to it or we have been seeing the same programs. Looking forward to anything your wife can add. : )

I'm 48 and have been vegan for over a year now, eating tofu maybe twice a week. Previously a slug, my diet has given me so much energy I am actually exercising on a regular basis. Periods are still clockwork. Everything else is in working order. No hot flashes or anxiety. Mental fogginess was being attributed to early Alzheimer's (a family tradition) but maybe it's my only symptom...?

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

I'm 60 and this is just not enough time for me to go into the horrors of the change....
Instead I can tell you I forget more, worry less and sleep more than I did for years.
I am for the most part easier to get along with and waiting to change into a tall, raven haired beauty who can sing and dance.
Now, that would be a change.

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermeredith@whynot

I had terrible periods and hot flashes for at least two years, and was elated when it was over.

PSA: DO NOT STOP having pelvic exams just because you've gone a year without a period! I have learned the hard way. I have a huge fibroid and a tennis ball sized mass on one ovary, and the pap smear is not good, either. I'm going for surgery on Tuesday. I'm about to lose my mind with worry. I don't care how much you hate pelvic exams, just don't be an idiot like me.

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

even though Japanese women don't talk about topics like this so very often or on such an open "field"...in smaller groups or out drinking with a few of them, i have learned that a few of my students and friends (all Japanese) have gone through menopause and it seems that one or two have gone through it very hard (and HRT is pushed here by many doctors), but, many of them-- absolutely not at all. their periods just stop and *poof* they're done.

i'm almost 51 and haven't experienced any kind of hot flashes (yet....she typed, knocking on wood) but the other day in class, my ladies had the heat turned up really high and as i complained that i was hot, one lady looked at me and said "irrashaimase"/ "welcome"....which i thought was really funny, but, it also showed me that a lot of women do go through it, but....yeah, like Lynne said, not like Western women.

i have lived here in Japan for almost 22 years....we eat a lot of veggies (daily) and my intake of soy is pretty high (especially in the summer, when we eat cold tofu almost every single day). my periods, though still pretty much on a regular schedule, have become very heavy for about 2 days....my grumpiness around that time is no different.

i'm grateful for this thread because, even though i don't need the information right now, it'll be nice to refer back here to get "ammunition" for if and when i ever do need it. going to the doctor here, armed with information is never a bad thing.
this foreigner is no pushover.....

i'm now going to do a little research about that whole "you need to cut down on coffee and red wine" idea that Karen mentioned.....what? that HAS to be wrong!! (imagine a bigass sarcastic smiley icon right here!!)
thanks ladies....i do appreciate the willingness to be open.

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDebbieK

hmm.
ditto on family discussion - my female relatives are southern gentle-ladies, so you can just barely say "the time", and if you do, there can't be any men around and you have to blush and giggle behind your hand.
ditto on libido - though i must say with an adult child suffering schizophrenia, this has been low for both of us lately, just going through life in triage mode.
ditto on hot flashes - yeah, 105 spike in 2 seconds, even the tops of your feet sweat, and sadly, wine and caffeine are definite triggers.
ditto on anxiety and mood swings and "pms-like"feelings and road rage - although this could also be related to other parts of my life. it does seem cyclic, though. definite times of the month are worse.
hair - hmm, for a while it seemed like it was thinning in unusual places, which seemed a blessing - yeah, no more shaving pits - but that seems to have gone back to normal.
soy - trying that, already on magnesium and zinc and folic acid because of being on humira. i haven't noticed any miraculous effects, but, i like vanilla soy milk better than skim cow milk, so it's nice to have an excuse.
period - i had fibroids and a hysterectomy, kept the ovaries, so none of the mess, but, i'm sure it's linked in somehow. your body is an ecosystem.
husband - yeah, i figure men have hormones, too, just different, so i would not be surprised if they have a related change, just male-flavored. after all, there's the mid-life crisis thing...and my always skinny husband who exercises regularly is suddenly developing a cute little poochy tummy.
yeah, yeah, on men it looks adorable, on women you just look soggy. (punch hubby on arm).
skubitwo

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterskubitwo

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