My Menopause Symptoms

I refer to it as Puberty in Reverse.

My last period happened 1 month before my 50th birthday. Of course I didn't know it was my last, till a couple of months later. But the sense of freedom was delightful.

Then BANG! the symptoms of menopause began.

The first symptoms were the renowned hot flushes or flashes as they say in the US. People have said to me since, “I’m not sure if I’ve had a hot flush”. Let me tell you this, there is no borderline with hot flushes! Boy! you know when you have one. They come on when you least expect them, in my case like being microwaved from the inside out. It happens quickly, whoosh! feeling the perspiration from the tips of my har follicles on my head right down to my toes, in a matter of seconds. So intense and all consuming is each one, that I couldn’t get the window of the car open quickly enough or take my jacket off quickly enough in a meeting. No sooner had I achieved all of the cooling down actions required, than the hot flush is gone, leaving in it’s wake chills and a rapid cooling-down, requiring me to do the exact opposite of what I had just done, with people around me looking quizzically on, too embarrassed to ask what had just transpired.

What I have just described was only one hot flush. I had 20 - 30 a day, every day for 3 years. By my mid-morning coffee my make-up had slid off my face or been wiped away and my neat hair damp and greasy looking. Add to that, the hot flushes that I experienced at night, throughout the night, for the same three years. Of course, I didn’t realise they were hot flushes, all I recall was the ‘duvet on and off’ all night long, because I was too hot - too cold - too hot, etc. It’s no wonder I likened myself to a slow puncture. My energy was being slowly drained from me.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I also had ‘dry eye’ including two trips to the Dublin Eye and Ear A&E department, so bad was the pain, ending up on medication and eye drops permanently, throughout the day. Add to that a visit t the dentist for a routine check-up, only to be told that my gums were receding. I could never get more than a piece of dental floss between my teeth, now I was getting those small brushes between my teeth easily! I put both down to getting old.

And what about those pains in my ankles? I thought that they were from ‘old age’ and not stretching enough prior to my short 3-5km runs.

And what about my loss of libido? The loss of my ‘va va room’, i.e. my vitality and get up and go?

And what about those ‘funny’ blood tests, where I was diagnosed with borderline underachieve thyroid, and diagnosed with high cholesterol, both of which went away as mysteriously as they came.

And what about my loss of hair, not on my head, but my eyebrows…they seemed to just disappear. I saw that happen to my mother’s so assumed that was just hereditary.

And finally, the 7-10 extra pounds that I’d been carrying. They had crept on during the past 5 years, with no real change to my diet or exercise regime. In fact I was drinking less alcohol than before!

Need I go on??? You’re getting the picture. I had a series of menopausal symptoms that I was unaware were symptoms of the menopause. I had just explained them away as old age, stress, inherited, etc.

It was the never-ending hot flushes and fatigue that got to me. After 3 years I ‘gave in’ and decided to go for HRT. The narrative that had been playing in my head about HRT went as follows; ‘HRT gives you breast cancer, HRT gives you middle age spread, HRT is only taken by women who aren’t strong and who can’t power through’. Imagine! That was my uneducated, ill-informed, load of codswallop, narrative that kept me in the dark and suffering unnecessarily.

Needless to say, I had tried very type of ‘natural’ solution going; black cohosh, sage, Dong Quai, Boots magnets in my underwear, cutting down on alcohol and hot drinks. All of these alternative therapies, did NOTHING for me.

Once I started on my appropriate level and combination of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), all of my symptoms disappeared. Can you believe it? And I said hello to that person I had been 3 years before all of this menopause stage had begun. I will tell you all my HRT journey in my next update.

Ciao x

Gavin O'Sullivan