Despite being the one behind our sometimes-outrageous TMI Tuesday status updates (hotel sex, anyone?) on our Facebook page and writing the chapter in The Book about peeing, pooping, passing gas, and periods, I’m hesitant to pen this post. It’s about…menopause. My top three excuses? 1. My mom never had “The Talk” with me, so I’ve never been fully comfortable talking about, ahem, menstruation (or lack thereof). 2. There isn’t enough good slang for menopause (let’s rectify that, ladies!). 3. I am not 100% comfortable with being 45 years old…and getting dogged with early onset menopause. (There, I typed it. A first step, right?)
But I’ve decided to broach the topic because several fans have told us they wish we’d talk about it. Here goes: I’ve suspected for several years that early onset menopause might be coming my way because I had secondary infertility due to elevated FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels. My doc said the two aren’t necessarily linked but they often are. Always a glass-half-full kinda gal, I didn’t dwell or worry—until last summer, when I started bleeding like crazy. If I’d gone swimming in shark-infested waters, I would have been fish-food: Heavy bleeding for a week, then 10 days off, then another heavier-and-longer period, then an 8-day reprieve, then another bleeding session…you get the bloody (literally) picture. Never one to rush in for medical advice, I merely grumbled, contemplated buying stock in Playtex, and fared forward until a good running friend urged me to see my OB/GYN. The doc did some bloodwork and said nothing was wrong except that, well, lookie there, my hormone levels showed I was already in menopause. (Gulp!) But she said menopause was a slippery thing: The real marker was absence of a period for one year.
My rash of periods had stopped by then, late August, so, again, I just kept keeping on, this time free of cooter-plugs. (Sorry: I have to work some bawdy slang into this post, don’t I?!) I’ll admit: I was floored when the doc delivered the, “you’re in menopause” line. It made me feel so…old. While it had been great to get served in bars when I was 19, suddenly seeming older than my real age bummed me out. Moaning about my situation to my pal Molly, she made me see the bright side. At least I hadn’t had to go through years of night sweats, migraines, hot flashes, and thinning hair—I’d taken the express train to menopause without suffering any real symptoms.
I quickly rallied and absent-mindedly kept track of the passing months, waiting for the one-year anniversary of my last period. (Again, a catchy slang phrase is needed here. Bleed-iversary? Red-letter day?) This summer, as it drew nearer, the date felt like a finish line I wanted to reach—yet didn’t want to cross. It would feel so final, and I worried what the lack of estrogen might do to my body. (I’m already convinced it’s why I’ve had so many foot pains and issues this year.) Then, last week, I was like a sprinter who stumbles right before breaking the tape: Yup, you guessed it, I got my period again. (Best response? A dear 41-year-old friend, who always makes me laugh, said, “Our bodies are like old cars—they sputter.”)
Now I’ve hit the reset button. I’m somewhat relieved and, oddly, somewhat disappointed.