Hot Flashes!

I’m sure I’m not the only Mom with toddlers going through menopause, but most days I sure feel like I am! With women having children later in life, going through menopause with toddlers running around, should seem pretty normal, right?! I’m not sure how normal it is, but it’s my life right now!

In this article, I’m going to talk about menopause since I’m currently going through it but didn’t know anything about it until I actually started experiencing physical symptoms. Why don’t women talk about miscarriages or menopause!?! Both of which I have now experienced. I’m no expert but I have read up on the symptoms and what can be done for menopause, naturally and medically. I have also had a couple of great conversations with my OBGYN about it. She’s been very forthcoming and helpful. I hope by sharing my experience and what I’m doing to manage my symptoms may help you if you are having similar symptoms. I’m optimistically hopeful that we can all find relief. I would also like to ask you to talk about your experience and symptoms with the other women in your life. It’s not a shameful thing at all. Let’s start talking about it and sharing more so no other woman has to be derailed by her symptoms as I have been.

Why don’t we talk about the two “M’s”, Miscarriages and Menopause?

Back to why women don’t talk about menopause (and miscarriages) until woman A says, “Oh my god, I’m having the worst hot flashes and I don’t know what to do for them.” Woman B responds, “Oh goodness, I had the same experience. I had to go on hormone therapy to help me with mine.” Woman A is thinking. What the heck is hormone therapy?! She doesn’t want to seem like she doesn’t know what that is in front of the other woman, so she just says, “Thanks, I’ll look into that.” and leaves it at that until she can go see her OBGYN and ask her about hormone therapy or other ways to manage her hot flashes. I think there’s an unconscious presumption that all women just know about menopause symptoms and what to do about them. NEWS FLASH, we don’t!

It’s a natural part of our lives and we shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to talk about it. Just like if you have ever suffered a miscarriage, you should be able to talk about it without feeling shame or blaming yourself. As awful as a miscarriage is, it’s also another natural part of our lives. I myself have had one and was so devastated and thought I was the only woman in the world who ever felt that way. I would find out later that it happens more than we know and is considered normal. We just don’t talk about it, so it feels like it’s not normal.

I feel like the “menopause talk” should be a conversation almost like the “sex talk” we all had with our mom’s as teenagers. We should have this conversation with a woman we trust and are comfortable talking about this with, before the change starts. I don’t have a daughter, but if I did, I’d definitely add this to my list of topics to bring up at that time in her life. I feel I could have been better prepared had I known a little bit more about this time in my life. I really have been in shock over it, even though I knew it happened, I just had no idea how crazy it & I would feel.

My symptoms started less than a year after my twins were born

I’m 51 years old, the average age that women start menopause. I didn’t know that, but here I am. I gave birth to fraternal twin boys a year and a half ago and after that, my periods were really light. I didn’t think much of it. After being pregnant and not having a period for 7.5 months (our twins were born prematurely), I was happy that it was light. Little did I know that was a precursor to what was to come. They got lighter and lighter and then starting in January of this year, I just didn’t have a period. Then each month after that, nothing. I didn’t have any other symptoms except a loss of my sex drive, but I had two babies that were less than a year old, I didn’t think much of that one either. I was exhausted and tired all of the time and thought that just came with having babies who weren’t sleeping through the night yet. Nope, yet another symptom that I didn’t know about and pretty much ignored until other symptoms started.

If you’d like to know more about our IVF to parenthood journey with our twins in mid-life, please read the start here page.

My personal symptoms

Now 9 months later, no periods except for a little spotting a day here and there, I’ve officially been diagnosed. I’m in the beginning phase of menopause, perimenopause. I have at least 2 crazy hot flashes a day. And when I have one, they are intense. I get so hot and sweaty that my entire head (hair and all) is completely soaked. I have never sweated like this in my life even when I used to “try” to exercise.

I say “try” because exercise and I are a joke. I don’t enjoy it and it’s not something I normally would choose to do. Other than doing yoga, swimming, and walking, exercise and I don’t get along very well. I can’t imagine if I was exercising and had a hot flash! I’m sure I’d be drenched from head to toe. I have taken more cold showers over the last two months than I ever have before. At least I’m working from home and our twins are good nappers, so I have time to truly experience the full hot flash, cool off a bit then jump in a cold shower to make sure I am truly cooled down. The cold shower seems to really help me until I go to bed. That’s another story!

At night, I used to have to sleep in a long sleeve shirt, long pajama pants, and fuzzy, warm socks. I was always cold. Now, I am so hot, I could sleep naked. I don’t like to sleep naked, in case there’s an emergency and I have to get up quickly or go outside for some reason (worst-case nightmare, I’m standing naked on my front lawn in the middle of the night and my house is on fire!) I have resorted to sleeping in a chemise type nightgown that is really lightweight. I am also sleeping with the window open and only a sheet on me for most of the night. If I get cold, I may pull the blanket on me for a bit, but it usually doesn’t last. I get hot again. I haven’t had too many night sweats, but I’m sure that is next. Can’t wait!

Other Menopause symptoms for me

The other symptom for me that has been very prevalent is an increase in emotions, not so much mood swings, but definitely weeping and sad emotions. I’m normally an emotional person, and when the twins were infants, I thought it was just postpartum emotions. Luckily, I didn’t suffer from postpartum depression, but I did get overly emotional when watching commercials, sad movies, hearing the sad news, and most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic news coverage. I had to stop watching it. I would sit in front of the TV and just sob. I was so sad for all of those families who had lost loved ones. It was like my loved ones had died or were critically ill. It was a good thing we were on a stay at home order because I wouldn’t have been much fun to be around.

Once I was able to get an appointment with my OBGYN doctor, I talked her about all of this:

  1. No period except for six months except a day or two of spotting – Check!
  2. Hot Flashes that were regular enough for me to notice and want to do something about them – Check!
  3. Interrupted sleep and night hotness not quite night-sweats but close – Check!
  4. More emotional than normal – Check!
  5. Uncomfortable (or can be painful) intercourse and dry vagina – Check! I haven’t mentioned these two, but yep…this is happening too!

Symptoms that I haven’t had, but maybe you have?

There are other symptoms of menopause that I’m not having, but think it is important to mention:

  1. Mood swings
  2. Frequent urination
  3. Insomnia
  4. Weight gain
  5. Night Sweats
  6. Bone fractures

There are natural and medical treatments to relieve menopause symptoms

There are different ways to treat the symptoms and make transitioning into this phase of our life easier. You can go the doctor route and do Hormone replacement therapy. There are added risks to that and if you decide to take that route, you should talk with your doctor and know all the pros and cons. I’m not doing this due to the fact that I did IVF, am a little overweight and there is a history of cancer in my family. We may visit this another time if other things I’m now trying don’t work, but for now, the risk is too great. I found several other blogs about menopause that I wanted to share with you. They are written by other women who have been through “the change” or are doctors who specialize in menopause. These blogs were voted the Best Menopause Blogs of 2020 by Healthline. I found them very educational and helpful. I hope you do too.

Here’s what I’m doing to help relieve my symptoms

I’m sure you are thinking, this is all great information but what are you doing to relieve your symptoms? In order to control my symptoms, I am trying to eat a healthy diet with a healthy amount of dairy, fat, fruits & veggies, and lean, healthy protein. I am also taking an anti-depressant to help control my emotions and mood swings (I don’t really have crazy mood swings, but I don’t want them either!) Even though I hate to exercise, I am going to ride my stationary bike, walk and start swimming again on the days when my helper comes. Our recreation center is open now and I just need to make a reservation to hold my spot. If I have to take the time to call to reserve my lap lane, I will for sure go. I’m also starting a prescription vaginal estrogen pill that is supposed to help with dryness and uncomfortable sex. I’m hoping with this and the anti-depressant, my sex drive will come back and whisper in my ear when I least expect it, “Hey I’m back!” Until then, I’m doing my best to find the humor in all of this. If I can laugh at myself and see how funny & ironic life truly is, then it can’t be so bad, right!?!

Let’s start talking more about this!

The other thing I’m doing, which may be the most important thing…I’m talking about this experience with my mom and my close girlfriends. The more I talk about my crazy symptoms and how I’m dealing with it, the more I’m finding that other very important women in my life have been through it or are currently going through it. I’m not alone in this after all. They may not be chasing two toddlers around during a hot flash, but that’s OK, at least I know there are others I can talk to about this. We may not have toddlers in common, but we do have Hot Flashes, mood swings, weepy emotions, and night sweats to commiserate about. The best medicine for me is hearing my beautiful boys say “mama”, seeing them smile when they see me, and hearing their giggles and laughs throughout the day. Even with hot flashes, I wouldn’t change my life as a mom for anything!

If you are also in the throws of menopause please comment below. I’d love to hear how you are managing your symptoms. I have been managing mine with diet, drugs, soon to be exercise, some tears and lots of laughs!