Mad at Menopause

Just thinking about the title is bringing on a hot flash. Well, I must admit to being mad at menopause. Turning 50 was an exciting time and I still enjoy being in the club. The hormonal changes my body is experiencing right now not so much. 

Brace yourself, I will be talking very candidly about my experience with hormone changes and my body. This is not meant to offend anyone. Going through the change is a subject many are afraid to discuss out of embarrassment, fear, or the belief it should be hush-hush. We have come too far to continue this way of thinking. Health involves discussing all things relating to the human body and aging. I for one am all about sharing, learning, and getting feedback from others on the subject.

I have been frantically researching hormone imbalance for a few years now. I have tried supplementation, herbals, transdermal creams, and natural moisturizers attempting to restore balance in my body. 

I am very aware of foods that help with hormone balance and eat my share of raw pumpkin seeds and watermelon. I also exercise consistently which is another way to help with the stresses of hormone imbalance. Some women may sail right through without a hitch in the get along, but not this girl. Through research, I have discovered I'm not alone and there are plenty of women suffering from menopause symptoms. 

I began experiencing night sweats years ago, which I easily managed with a transdermal OTC progesterone cream. That seemed to be the biggest drag during my premenopausal time. However and for a few years, my periods took on a life of their own. Everything became unpredictable. I didn't know from one month to the next if I was in full menopause. 

According to my doctor, not having a cycle for one year would be the indicator of being in true menopause. I enjoy my gynecologist and have to say she is easy to talk to. I respect her opinion and am able to share my desire to go through this process as natural as possible. The thing about most western medicine doctors is non-support of bio-identical hormones. Also, they're generally not covered by insurance. So be prepared for such roadblocks. Don't be afraid to be yourself and cover every concern with your doctor.

Menopause has been a thief of my womanhood. It has plagued me with sleepless nights, hot flashes, frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), and the worst part … a broken ya-ya. My frustration has become motivation to work very hard at making the best decisions for me and my body. 

I'm sure many women can relate to what I am sharing. Hopefully, this Blog will stimulate comments so we can all support and share what has worked or not worked. This can no longer be a hide behind the door subject. As women, it's important to be brave, embrace who we are, what we're going through, and create a voice for answers. I will get off my soap box now and dive right into my journey of being mad at menopause.

The dreaded hot flash comes at all hours of the day and night. For some reason, I'm bothered most at night. It's so frustrating not being able to get a full night sleep. This alone can really put me on edge. I have discovered the best remedy is sleeping under a light sheet with one leg covered and one leg exposed. I also keep the ceiling fan going which seems to help. 

Enjoying a glass of wine in the evening will trigger a hot flash. It will continue to haunt me during sleep time with a dreaded night sweat. I have found it's important to stay away from the triggers. 

What has seemed to help my menopause symptoms is Maca Root, recommended by my gynecologist. Maca is an herbal I mix in a green shake each day. Before using maca root, I put in the necessary research of pros and cons, and decided to give it a go. 

What I'm sharing has worked and not worked for me. It's important for each of us to be our own health care advocates. We should not try any supplement without reviewing clinical research and solid evidence to support health claims. Don't take my word as gospel. My body is different than yours and may respond differently to herbs like maca root. My share is to inform and motivate you to start your own journey of research.  

Moving on to other mad at menopause symptoms: decreased sexual sensitivity, increased bladder discomfort and UTIs, and the dreaded dry vagina or what I like to call the broken ya-ya.  Talk about the worst of the worst and are you kidding me?! This has got to be the most unfair situation ever as sex is a very important part of a healthy marital relationship. 

As women, it's important to feel confident about our bodies and our abilities. We shouldn't feel guarded about sex because our minds get so focused on things like: will I orgasm? am I too dry? will it hurt too much? what's he thinking? The list is really endless. How can we be in the moment when all that mental noise is going on? 

Personally, I refuse to be a woman on the edge with the inability to get over the fence and I'm referring to orgasm here. I enjoy this part of my married life and research focused in this area has been very thorough. I have discovered a new vaginal suppository containing coconut oil and vitamin E. This magic stuff works better than most of the OTC products out there. I use ½ suppository daily which keeps me naturally moisturized for the day and into the evening. 

My goal is to prevent vaginal atrophy and yes this is what occurs during menopause. In laymen terms, we women start drying up like a prune and develop a dry sandpaper interior. The do not disturb sign has clearly landed. I refuse to allow any such nonsense to happen, and am fighting for my sexual right as a woman and wife.

Decreased sensitivity during sex can also occur as the body no longer carries adequate blood supply to the vaginal tissue and clitoris. Research sent me to L-arginine supplementation which is an amino acid naturally occurring in our body. Studies have shown L-arginine to help with blood supply and flow to the sex organs. Well, this turned out to be a huge waist of my time. I can be prone to cold sores and updated research lead me to discover L-arginine stimulates the virus causing cold sores. I tossed the bottle in the trash and never looked back. Thank goodness I also keep a supply of Lysine, an immunity boosting amino acid which works to prevent cold sores. I increased the dose to counter act the negative side effects of the L-arginine.   

Another unfortunate menopause related problem that occurs with me has been severe bouts of urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms. The discomfort can wake me in the middle of the night and cause me to curl up in a fetal position. I have a low-dose antibiotic on standby when these events occur, OTC Cystex, and cranberry supplements. I found a heating pad also helps along with OTC pain reliever like Aleve. I also begin a protocol of increased water and additional 100% cranberry juice to flush out my system. 

I'm very in tune with my body and can feel a UTI early onset. So, typically I do catch it early and am able to not lose too much time or days off work. The night may suck getting the symptoms calmed down, but once manageable, I can function pretty well at work and in general. 

I have also looked into HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and currently researching bio-identical hormones. Bio-identicals are hormone closely related to our own body production and administered transdermally. 

I have decided not to take any systemic estrogen by mouth in order to minimize cancer risk. I don't want the hormone to metabolize directly through my liver and into my bloodstream. The incidence of cancer is greater with such therapy so this door is forever closed for me. 

I am trying a vaginal insert pill of very low dose estrogen. This is localized to the vaginal tissues and helps plump up and restore natural vaginal lubrication and reduction of UTI issues. I even had doubts and fears regarding cancer with the vaginal insert. After discussion with both western medicine and natural path doctors, they were in agreement with initial treatment of vaginal cream, pill, or ring. I went with the most convenient and less messy pill insert. 

Online research also reduced my fears, and I am willing to give it a try for a few months. I'm hoping for a positive outcome.  I will need to report back with my personal findings. I do welcome feedback from women, or husbands whose wives are currently using vaginal insert low estrogen and how it has been helpful or not. 

I have had many discussions with women going through menopause which is helpful and supportive. It can feel like such a desperate and frustrating time not knowing the best course of action to take. It feels scary to possibly subject ourselves to cancer or other disease in the process of discovery. 

It can seem unfair very little clinical studies on menopause and women’s dysfunction have been conducted. Further research would provide more options, and allow us to feel more confident in decision making. If anything, I hope my personal share on the subject has been helpful. We are not alone in our struggle and frustration. Keep up the research and find what works best for you and your body. We are all on this journey of life and the transitions along the way. We can only do our best on finding what works best. 

I dedicate this Blog to my fabulous husband who is always supportive and understanding. I thank you for encouraging my writing, especially on such personal topics. 

You're amazing!  

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Stay Healthy!


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