Sunday, September 3, 2006

When did THIS happen?

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
3. Irritability
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
18.Breast tenderness
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
25.Weight gain
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.


  1. Hey Donna,
    On Menopause! I'm there, been there. Since there are so many of us going through this at the same time, it's good to share.
    On Nip/Tuck! I'll be there this week! Yeah!

  2. Damn. If I had 25 out of 32, I'd make an appointment to have that bitch ripped out. It's time for a new kitchen sink.

  3. About McMahon--I COMPLETELY know what you mean. He's been on my list since we was Cole on Charmed.

    Sorry about the symptoms though. Damn symptoms. Why is that word so prevalent in women's health?

  4. 25 would freak me out. But then, is this a list they use for diagnosis? Because a lot of those things happen anyway. I know I'm not in menopause or in peri-menopause based on hormones etc., but I've had a lot of them in the last few years (not as many as 25, I admit). Aren't these lists just meant to freak us out?

  5. Fuck...I had like all but 2 or 3 of those fucking symptoms. Do I win a prize?
    Fucking can go screw itself!

  6. All I can say is that you are one brave lady for actually keeping count. A quick look was enough for me - I have a lot of the symptoms but I refuse to count them up.. Yes, I know it's denial but rather denial then menopause??

  7. Hm. Those sound awfully general to me. I'm sort of in the same boat as you - no real family history on that (mom's a foster child, had a full hysterectomy when I was 4 or 5, and dad is old-school European - won't talk about those things and neither did his mother).

    I mean, rapid heart beat/feelings of apprehension? Anxiety. Bleeding gums? gingivitis. Mood swings and irritability? Bad day. Itchy, crawly skin? Dry skin, perhaps. Difficulty concentrating and memory lapses??? Oh please. I get those DAILY. Have for YEARS. And I only just turned 30.

    Humour aside, there is a book my mother had that seemed to shed some light. Apparently, women who have had hysterectomies actually need progesterone when doctors normally prescribe estrogen. I think the title of the book was "What your doctor may not tell you about menopause".

  8. Yeesh! Do I know what you mean...
    I've got 19 of those symptoms. The most disturbing is peeing my pants when I sneeze or jump. Oh, and tripping over the cracks on sidewalks isn't so great either...
    The hot flashes are a pain in the ass too, because Naked Nursing probably wouldn't go over so well!
    I still have dreams regularly that I am pregnant, which saddens me (especially because mostly it's d/t the weight gain, gas and bloating)
    I didn't know that it was Menopause Awareness Month, there's GOT to be something good about it?!

  9. Hmmm... been anovulatory for a long time (6 years, maybe?), but still anticipating perimenopause. I wouldn't mind a symptom or two--to squash the "maybe I have an egg this month" vibe that NEVER goes away... At the same time, tinnitus would probably send me to the looney bin.

    Stay well (though I know you will).

    Much love, my eggless sister!


  10. WOW! 25 is quite a large number considering the total. Well, I wish I knew which ones they were, so I could give you tips for a few. The most recent remedy I found is for skin dehydration, dullness, uneven pigment, wrinkles, and unwanted facial hair due to menopause . Do you identify with any of those skin changes? If so, you need to look for skin care products with plant-based estrogens, skin-firming ingredients, and conditioning agents to increase elasticity, and provide you with glowing, healthy skin.

    As for Julian, he's on my list, too! haha