I’m still very involved in the lives of many friends who are still trying to have a baby. I wish them all success, but I have to say I am glad that I’m not living in that space anymore. In early 2005 we pushed forward with our last IUIs (our 15th and 16th) even though the injectible drugs had little effect on follicle production and my hormone levels weren’t near where they needed to be. In fact, based on my abysmal FSH level and the lack of response to the drugs, my doctor spoke these words I will never forget: I don’t think you’re ovulating anymore, it looks like you’ve entered perimenopause. Just a few months before he was still a cheerleader for our success, now he was basically saying I should hang it up. Which we did. Not easily and not without a lot of sadness, but since we had agreed up front we weren’t going to do IVF, this was the end of the road.
Since then and especially in the last 3 months or so, the symptoms have been piling up. Since September is Menopause Awareness Month (like we need to be more aware?) I started doing a little research on this, my latest albatross. According to experts, there are at least 35 known symptoms of menopause or perimenopause:
1. Hot flashes, flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling
2. Bouts of rapid heart beat
4. Mood swings, sudden tears
5. Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
6. Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles
7. Loss of libido
8. Dry vagina
9. Crashing fatigue
10.Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
11.Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
12.Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
13.Disturbing memory lapses and simple forgetfulness
14.Incontinence, especially upon sneezing or laughing; urge incontinence
15.Itchy, crawly skin
16.Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
17.Increased tension in muscles
19.Headache change: increase or decrease
20.Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
21.Sudden bouts of bloat
23.Exacerbation of existing conditions
24.Increase in allergies
26.Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body; increase in facial hair
27.Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
28.Changes in body odor
29.Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
30.Tingling in the extremities
31.Gum problems, increased bleeding
32.Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor 33.Osteoporosis (after several years)
34.Changes in fingernails (or toenails): softer, crack or break easier
35.Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, 'whooshing' buzzing etc.
I have 25 of these. 25! I am only 42, how is that possible? I can’t look to family history for guidance, since my mother had a complete (and probably completely medically unnecessary) hysterectomy in her mid-30s. If I am going to be suffering all these slings and arrows I would like to request that my period just stop all together. It has been getting shorter and lighter, but even that feeds the evil endometriosis monster. Seriously, who do I talk to about this? Doctor Ruth?
Because this is such a fun topic and we all need to laugh at ourselves in a public forum, there is (of course), Menopause The Musical. In Canada it’s called Menopause Out Loud due to some copyright issue, I think it’s still playing in Toronto.
From the National Post: “The baby-boomer tuner features four characters named Earth Mother, Iowa Housewife, Soap Star and Power Woman (actresses Nicole Robert, Rose Ryan, Jayne Lewis and Cynthia Jones) singing and dancing about hot flashes and mood swings via re-lyricized pop tunes from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Stayin' Alive becomes Stayin' Awake. Puff the Magic Dragon becomes Puff, My God, I'm Dragging. And then there's Looking for Food in All the Wrong Places."
If I rolled my eyes any harder I would cause a migraine, so I am going to stop reading about it now.
I also ran across this article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a book recently published called “The Female Brain” written by Dr. Louann Brizendine.
She says, “Women have these extra “antenna” almost sticking out the sides of their cheeks and ears for emotional details and emotional nuance, and their brains are always feeling for emotional information at a level that men can’t even perceive. Therefore, things she may think are very important, he misses completely. Also, there are new things [in the book] about the mature female brain, when a woman’s brain circuit becomes fired up with doing her own thing. Her antenna for emotional information about the needs of others wilts a little, and she forges ahead with her own life.”
If I’m reading this correctly, she is saying that estrogen = empathy. No wonder I just don’t care anymore and have become so focused on making sure me and my needs are taken care of. See, there’s that silver lining.
On a totally unrelated topic, I am very excited that the Nip/Tuck season premier is on Tuesday! Julian McMahon is near the top of my list. You know what I mean.