Premature menopause – one year on

It’s been one whole year since I was diagnosed with premature menopause.

One whole year since I nervously entered a stranger’s office armed with a collection of blood results and a bunch of bizarre symptoms, and left with a diagnosis I didn’t fully understand.

Premature menopause, premature ovarian failure, primary ovarian insufficiency – my mind was swimming with information and terms I didn’t yet understand.

The official definition of premature menopause is when the final menstruation period occurs before a woman is 40. I had just turned 38 when I was diagnosed and I’d not had a period for more than a year.

More than a year of no period and dealing with a host of symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss, brain fog and a general sense of sadness. Symptoms I didn’t even realise were symptoms until my specialist put it all together. While I’d struggled to conceive in my early 30s as a result of a low ovarian reserve, premature menopause was never on my radar.

The diagnosis stung like a slap in the face. A powerful shock to my system that knocked me off my feet until reality set in. When reality set in, I cried. I cried and cried as I attempted to come to grips with the fact that I would not be having any more children. I cried because I suddenly felt like my ‘youth’ had been taken away from me. I was old before my time and all of a sudden no longer felt attractive to my husband.

A year on, these feelings come back to haunt me more often than I’d like. The one thing I do have under control though is my symptoms.

I’ve been able to kiss goodbye to hot flashes, most of the night sweats and some deeply personal symptoms that I’m too shy to share with you today.

Finding the right Hormone Replacement Therapy for me wasn’t easy and I often questioned if I’d be better off without it. I’d put up with my symptoms for so long, I may as well keep going, right? My specialist insisted however that as a woman who had experienced premature menopause I was at a greater risk of bone and heart disease. I needed HRT to protect me.

Finding the right medication was a nightmare. As I suffer from migraines with auras, the selection of medication I can choose from is limited. I was previously not permitted to take the pill, for example, because it would place me at risk of stroke.

So on I went testing various medications. The first was an absolute nightmare. It made me feel like I had stuck my head into an ant’s nest. My scalp was constantly burning and itching. The skin on my scalp would peel off in big bleeding chunks fueling my emotion. I was constantly itchy and felt like I was going crazy.

The second, fourth, fifth – I can’t remember how many I tried – didn’t seem to work either. I went through months where my emotions were up and down and all over the place. All the time my doctor would provide me with medication with higher hormone levels. I would often wonder how I even survived previously because my hormone levels must have been fairly low.

Just as I was about to give up thinking that heart disease was a better option, we found something that worked. I now wear skin patches a little more than 3 cm in diameter on my abdomen or backside 24 7 seven days a week.

They’ve become a way of life now (although I border on psychotic crazy when I can’t restock at certain pharmacies. It’s not your standard off the shelf medication) and have definitely reduced my symptoms.

The only complaint I have is the weight gain and change in body shape which I was told to expect. I now need to work a lot harder to keep the body I want. That’s not too much to ask I suppose – I’ll be sure to get onto that one of these days …

Premature menopause is surprisingly more common than you think with about 1 in 100 women being affected. This resource on premature menopause is helpful if you’d like to have read.

Have you experienced premature menopause or know anyone who has? How did they cope?

24 comments on Premature menopause – one year on

  1. Kez @ Awesomely Unprepared
    August 25, 2016 at 8:13 am (9 months ago)

    Wow, I can’t imagine the grief and the struggle you must have gone through to find some kind of acceptance of the situation. I’m glad you’ve found something that helps you. As someone going through secondary infertility in my early 30s, I really hope this sort of thing won’t be a factor for me (I actually have had endometriosis – unrelated but I worry about the time I have left to conceive) xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      August 25, 2016 at 12:41 pm (9 months ago)

      I hope it won’t be a factor for you either, Kez. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you xx

      Reply
  2. Andrea
    August 25, 2016 at 1:14 pm (9 months ago)

    Man you have copped it! You have suffered more than most but still managed to keep your sense of humour and grace. You are a gem my friend, love you heaps xxxx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      August 25, 2016 at 8:28 pm (9 months ago)

      Thank you so much! I couldn’t ask for a better friend than you, darling xx

      Reply
  3. Druime@SnippetsandSpirits
    August 25, 2016 at 1:30 pm (9 months ago)

    Wow Renee what a ride you have been on!!. I know you know I can relate to some of what you have been through. I know the body change can get you down its weird seeing your shape change even though you may be doing all the right things. Getting dressed up in clothes you like, even if you are just picking kids up from school, painting your nails little things to make you feel good about yourself become important again dont they ?. We must endure so much as women and much of it has to do with being too harsh on ourselves. I am so glad you seemed to have found a medication to help you. Long may it continue for you.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      August 25, 2016 at 8:29 pm (9 months ago)

      Thanks very much, Druime. Your right about the little things making a difference. I find popping on some earrings and a splash of lippy does the trick for me 🙂

      Reply
  4. Ness
    August 25, 2016 at 1:41 pm (9 months ago)

    I’m going through it now because I had chemo for breastfeeding cancer. I don’t want to HRT because of the risk of recurrence. I’m glad you found a treatment that works for you xoxo

    ps for some reason my phone won’t let me type the b word. Keeps changing it to breastfeeding, but you know what I mean LOL

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      August 25, 2016 at 8:31 pm (9 months ago)

      Lol. Yes, I know what you mean. God, I really feel for you. Is there any medication that can help you? I hope you’re not suffering too badly with the symptoms. I hope they can find something that works for you too x

      Reply
  5. Cat
    August 25, 2016 at 1:44 pm (9 months ago)

    Wow Renee
    Sometimes at 45 after all the bother my bits have given me from ca and horrific pregnancies I wish for menopause to happen but so far no luck. The even better bit is I have no idea when it is likely because for so many of the problems I had my mum had a hysterectomy at 24!!!
    Thank you for being so honest and openly sharing your experiences xoxo

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      August 26, 2016 at 4:21 am (9 months ago)

      I hope it happens soon for your sake, Cathy. It is good to get it over and done with and out of the way xx

      Reply
  6. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    August 25, 2016 at 4:15 pm (9 months ago)

    I know it must have been a long year, but totally worth it to find something that works for you. Now you can get on with the important business of enjoying life. Here’s to happy, healthy days and a happy, healthy you!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      August 25, 2016 at 8:31 pm (9 months ago)

      Thank you so much, Sammie. You’re a great role model for this kind of thing x

      Reply
  7. Trina
    August 25, 2016 at 9:09 pm (9 months ago)

    Im 46…have had no periods for 12 months….hot flushes that lasts for 4-5 hours at a time…this all started when i was 38 too….. so for the past 8 years ive been going thru menopause without any medication..no hrt… just sick to death of going from body temp normal..then im a 1000 degrees ..then to freezing. ..then 10 mins later..im hot again….can anyone tell me why my hot flushes last for hours snd hours???

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      August 26, 2016 at 4:24 am (9 months ago)

      Trina, I really feel for you. That is an awfully long time to go through those symptoms. Hot flushes are the worst. You must be going crazy. Have you thought about HRT? It has been fantastic in reducing the hot flushes for me. In summer in Queensland when I was hit with one I would feel like I was on fire. I really hope you can find someone to help you. If you’re in Brisbane, please let me know and I will email you the details of my specialist.

      Reply
  8. Denyse
    August 25, 2016 at 9:50 pm (9 months ago)

    You’ve been extraordinarily strong while going through something so totally unexpected & a “quirk” of nature for you. Many good wishes sent your way lovely girl.. D xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      August 26, 2016 at 4:25 am (9 months ago)

      Thank you so much, Denyse xx

      Reply
  9. Michelle
    August 26, 2016 at 6:34 am (9 months ago)

    My sister is almost 39 and was diagnosed last year. It hasn’t been easy for her either. I hope that your symptoms aren’t too severe Renee.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      September 5, 2016 at 2:25 pm (9 months ago)

      I can imagine, Michelle. My heart goes out to her. If she ever needs someone to talk to, please give her my details.

      Reply
  10. Seana Smith
    August 30, 2016 at 6:45 am (9 months ago)

    Oh that is young, and tough to not have any choice at all, and to have the option of another baby taken away. I have a friend to whom this happened in her very early 30s, rough for her as well. You know I just wrote about menopause and no-contraception relief… but I was in my very late 40s, and now ealry 50s… quite different. The change of shape and wight gain is still a shock though.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      September 5, 2016 at 2:27 pm (9 months ago)

      It really is, isn’t it?! That’s so hard for your friend in her early 30s. Way too early for this to be happening 🙁

      Reply
  11. Janet Camilleri aka Middle Aged Mama
    September 2, 2016 at 4:58 pm (9 months ago)

    I’m experiencing menopause symptoms though I can’t be sure. I had a hysterectomy in 2012, but kept my ovaries so technically I still have a cycle, just no periods. However they say it can still trigger a slightly earlier menopause – and I think they’re right, I’ve had symptoms since I was about 48. I can tell when my period is due (even though I don’t get it) by the menstrual migraine -thankfully a lot less frequent these days. I have night sweats, and a permanently higher thermostat rather than hot flushes, but all in all feel I have gotten off lightly so far, so haven’t yet investigated HRT. It would be a lot harder to cope with when you aren’t even 40 yet!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      September 5, 2016 at 8:59 pm (9 months ago)

      Yes, it sounds like something is going on, Janet. Lucky us being so smokin hot, hot, hot 😉

      Reply

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