Davina is talking about it. But before she became the face of “menopause”, women like you and I were suffering in silence and felt confused about what the hell was going on with our bodies and why one second we were crying and next feeling like hot sand was poured on our skin.
I remember being 10 years old and I had a letter I was supposed to give to my parents allowing me to learn about SEX. Well back then in their minds it was SEX but really it was learning reproduction and life. Guess what, my parents declined and I had to sit out. So I became one of those kids of the 80s who just had to wing it! Learning about the body and what it can and shouldn’t do via the book of “life”.
I learned about periods at age 10 when I began to bleed and I was handed some towels to stick on. Did I know then it was the start to being an adult? Nope. At age 13, when every period from the beginning of my new “adult” world I got catapulted into was coupled with severe cramps and the obligatory 7 days out of school dealing with the heavy flow. I learned about birth control. Why? Because it was what I was (well my mom was) told I would need to start taking if I wanted to control the crappiest days of the month. Among my peers it was a joke that I had boobs and periods but was not allowed to attend sex education class. But I had the last laugh because I HAD boobs!
Anyway, getting back to the topic. From age 10 to 16, even with my friends sharing shocking findings from their sexual educational experiences, there was no mention of the M word. Menopause. With my upbringing, I was not going to get it from home either, what is Menopause and why is it happening to me, now in my 40s?
Menopause is a 3 stage process that women go through leading to the end of their menstrual cycle meaning they no longer can have children. The three stages include perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. The first stage (peri) includes symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings and less chances of ovulating. This stage starts around the 40 mark but can happen later. It can last 4- 10 years! The next stage is Menopause. At this stage the woman is not producing the hormones to have a period of estrogen/ progesterone. This stage happens after the Peri stage and lasts another 4 years or so from the age of 45 onwards. Postmenopause is when all the symptoms from Menopause cease and you have made it through the hormonal journey!
A more recent backstory, I had a few miscarriages, 1 late baby and 2 severely premature babies between age 20-31. All of these while on birth control. I have a rare autoimmune disease and until age 35/36 was not aware it was attacking my reproductive system. Basically from age 10!
A couple of years ago I underwent a lot of investigation because I was bleeding pretty much everyday for 3 years. After 3 blood transfusions and my heart giving in, it was decided that I would need an emergency hysterectomy to stop any further incidents. That was back in 2020, 2 weeks before the world closed for Covid. Then tumbleweed. With no follow up appointments with the GYN, and 2 years later, I started to notice weird things about me. Like, feeling extremely emotional. I was becoming more anxious. I was crying for the sake of crying. My boobs ached and I was super nauseous. That was just in one day. These strange uncontrollable mood swings continued for a few days then I had a projectile moment. At this point I thought ‘What is wrong with me?’ Of course I googled “can you get pregnant even if you have had a hysterectomy”.
Unlike when I was young, my mom and I have a very open relationship. After lots of panicking,I then decided to call her. She laughed! “Yemi, it’s menopause, you are not pregnant! Your body is in the beginning stages” I calmed for a second because of the not pregnant statement, but then panicked again because I thought, what do I do about this? I can’t be throwing up all of the time, I can’t cry when I am watching Masterchef? Help what do I do?
In my case I am in induced perimenopause. This is why the symptoms are random but still strong. There is a mix of opinions on whether treatment should be via natural ingredients or taking the different HRT’s available. At the beginning of the year I discovered that the UK had a shortage of HRT for women going through menopause. It took a few weeks to get my GP on board with the HRT help and she also confirmed, especially in my area of Nottingham, there have been numerous concerns about the shortage of HRT.
Yep you got it, I definitely panicked when she confirmed the news. I was scared of not knowing what to do. Coincidentally, Davina popped up on my timeline during that time, but I still wasn’t convinced there was enough “real women” information out there. Information for all women by an average “woman”. Especially women who have interesting medical histories like mine.
So over a few articles I will be writing…a Map. Yes, a menopause map of where you could go to tackle symptoms related to perimenopause/menopause if you are not able to obtain HRT or choose to try something different! Read Part II for some inspiration.