As a 53 year old woman in the work force, I can attest to the challenges of living with perimenopause. For me, the symptoms began in my late 30’s. Heavy periods that worsened through the next 15 years until I was bleeding for six months with little reprieve. My doctors tried many forms of treatment including, as my doctor called, microwaving my uterus (technically called a uterine ablation) which only left me bleeding even heavier. Throughout all of this I continued to work full time and managed to function, but it was exhausting. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have permitted the symptoms to get to such a severe level. According to Web M.D., “Perimenopause can last anywhere from 2-8 years…”but for me it more like 13. It was one of those things that I didn’t want to talk about to anyone, and my doctor was not being supportive even after the ablation. It wasn’t until I contracted a strep infection that he conceded to perform the hysterectomy that I had begged him for six months earlier.
The hysterectomy did not prevent the onslaught of menopause, however, because I opted to keep my ovaries. Several nights waking from night sweats would leave me tired before I even started the day. I began researching ways to manage my symptoms and found that certain vitamins such as B12 and fish oil could be helpful in managing the symptoms. Exercise and changing my diet were also part of managing my perimenopause symptoms. After 15 years of being in a perimenopausal state, I can’t say how long it will be before I have actually completed the “change” but I can say that taking control of managing my symptoms has been the key to living with perimenopause.
I purposely avoided any hormonal treatments that my doctor suggested because I had read and heard too many reports of side effects that seemed more damaging than the symptoms that I was already living with. I did, however, let my doctor give me a one-time hormonal shot before I went on a week-long Birthday cruise with my daughters. I was 50 by then and I knew that if my period started at the beginning of that trip, I would never be able to enjoy any of it. It worked for the week of my trip, but it was a few days after we returned home that I started the 5 to 6 months of straight bleeding, with only a few days of reprieve. My doctor referred to a specialist and at first he did not believe me when I told him about my symptoms. It wasn’t until after the ablation when I came in to his office, worse than before the operation, that he took me seriously. And even then I had to tell him that if he didn’t give me my hysterectomy I was going to have to sue. It’s sad that we still have to convince doctors that we know when we are sick and that we know that we have tried all other avenues before they will actually listen.
It’s been 3 years now and I am no longer anemic and I feel stronger than I have in years. I am still in perimenopause though because I still have my ovaries. But my symptoms obviously don’t include bleeding. I have occasional night sweats and for now that is it. I feel like I have been released from the prison of my periods and I’m in no hurry to go through the “change” because I feel young and healthy again and am usually unaware that I am a 53 year old woman who is looking forward to being a grandmother someday!
This is a personal story shared with us by a woman currently suffering from perimenopause. If you would like to share your own story of a health issue you feel could be of benefit to our online community, please contact us here.