I started going through menopause early. I think I officially entered menopause at 46, one year after my period stopped for good. Before this, I was a regular heavy bleeder. I don’t exactly miss my period, but it has been a part of my identity since I was 12!
I am angry that it stopped early — partly because I feel like perimenopause and menopause are glossed over unlike getting your first period or pregnancy when it comes to women’s health. It’s just as much of a transition and milestone as your first period. Instead, the healthcare system seems to go immediately to HRT and vaginal atrophy. Ugh, it sounds horrible to think of your vagina atrophying, like it’s going to fall off and die!
I know our periods aren’t what make us women, but when you are defined in medical terms, it feels like you aren’t worthy anymore. I look for early menopause support groups and I find nothing. The only person I can talk to about this is my cousin who is experiencing something similar. It honestly sucks! I feel ashamed that I went through menopause on the early side. I still want to feel like part of the sisterhood complaining about cramps and crazy periods. It’s silly, but I feel like my body betrayed me and if we were living in The Handmaid’s Tale, I would be sent to the colonies. I wish there was more info out there about early menopause and that I didn’t feel like I need to discuss it in hushed tones like something I should be embarrassed about!
Ms. My Period
Dear Ms. My Period,
I completely understand how you feel. Until recently our society was very hush-hush about the whole menopause thing. (It’s made it even more invisible than older women.) Certainly my mother and older female relatives never mentioned it or prepared me for its coming, like they had menstruation. I never heard much about menopause, or even the word perimenopause, until it happened to me. Even then it was, as you said, all about HRT and a shrug about its inevitability. I had some vague idea about my period stopping and hot flashes, but that was it. No one told me about how poorly I’d be sleeping, mood swings, severe vaginal dryness, and painful intercourse. Watching TV, I’d wonder how come Blanche Deveraux on The Golden Girls or Samantha on Sex and the City were apparently able to have all kinds of sex without wincing.
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Dixie Laite has been a second-grade teacher and mechanical bull operator, and for the past 25 years she’s worked for a variety of TV networks as a writer, editorial director, trainer, advice columnist, even an on-air personality. But primarily she’s trotted around New York City in one cowboy shirt or another, lurking around flea markets, gyms, and anywhere they’ll hand her French toast. Currently she lounges around her apartment with one husband, one dog, five parrots, and roughly 2,000 pairs of shoes. Dixie is the main lady behind Age Against the Machine, a column about empowering women over 50. Sign up for the Jumble & Flowdown newsletter to stay in the know about Dixie’s latest columns.
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