I saw a gynecologist for the first time in several years yesterday. (I still had regular exams, just by my family doctor whom I really like.)
So it turns out that I’m in perimenopause, the 2-10 year phase that leads up to actual menopause. Most of the symptoms people attribute to “menopause” are actually symptoms of perimenopause.
It turns out I’ve been going through this for a while but I kept attributing it to other things. I legit didn’t even realize my sudden bouts of feeling uncomfortably hot and sweaty were what people meant by hot flashes.
It also turns out that many of the symptoms of perimenopause and MS often overlap, which is probably why I was so taken by surprise by the news. I was just used to feeling crappy and figured it was the MS. It’s actually both MS and perimenopause. Good times.
I’ve read some reports that say MS gets worse after menopause and that scares me a lot. I’ve also read that women with MS go through menopause 5 years earlier on average than women without MS. Since the average age for menopause is 51, that’s six years from the age I am now. I’ve been in this for a couple years and probably have a couple more in which my symptoms will get worse.
My feelings that I’ve had PMDD (or extra severe PMS) the past couple years? Perimenopause. Especially since that wasn’t anything I experienced when I was younger. My super intense anxiety like right now is also related.
Difficulty losing weight when I was doing more regular exercise? Check. I know it will alleviate some of my symptoms to get back to exercising regularly but right now that feels overwhelming.
Nothing I’m doing is working for anxiety right now — not medication, not meditation, nothing. Part of that is surely the stress and fear related to my husband’s cancer. But I spend a significant portion of every day feeling like my heart is going to jump out of my chest. That’s also related. It sucks.
On the other hand, my gynecologist actually congratulated me for making it this long. My mom went through menopause at 36 and the age is usually hereditary. The doctor said the fact that I made it so much longer meant I’d taken good care of my health. Hearing that I took good care of my health is not what I’m used to hearing from doctors since I’m overweight and disabled with MS.
Still, even if I’m a normal age and I made significant improvements to my health, this still makes me feel surprisingly old. And if my age is normal to have these symptoms, why aren’t any of my friends talking about them? It’s like there’s this great secrecy around something we’re all going through. Then again, the topic of periods in general has always been secretive among the women I know.
I often feel like I’m going crazy and I don’t know if it’s a comfort or not to know it’s just my hormones doing what they’re supposed to do. (At least in Western culture; I’ve read that some cultures don’t experience the degree of difficulty with the transition that we do.)
I just wish I weren’t going through this right now. I feel like I have enough on my plate already. And I don’t like how it makes me feel old. I previously didn’t feel particularly old but now I do.