Consumed by a feeling of claustrophobic heat cursing through my body, the hot flush resembled being in intense airless warmth with no option to open a window.
Having a hysterectomy weeks earlier at the age of 31 (due to endometriosis and adenomyosis), I was actually no stranger to menopausal symptoms. After years of endometriosis suppressing medication causing a false menopause, I’d already been prone to some of these side effects.
But this life-changing operation forced me into a very real and permanent surgical menopause, where debilitating symptoms began almost overnight.
While I’d prepared for the surgery, I hadn’t expected such a sudden change.
Mood swings and muscle aches, night sweats and hot flushes; I was encountering something that set me apart from my peers. You journey through periods and pregnancies together, and I’d always assumed the menopause would be similar.
I’ll be met with remarks from older women, when talking about being cold, such as “wait ‘til you get to our age” and share a knowing glance with whoever may be by my side. To be fair, it’s probably a lot less common to see a woman in her thirties peeling off layers and fanning herself.
It’s safe to say that there can be stigma surrounding discussing the menopause, and while we have health bloggers and beauty bloggers, mum bloggers and more, there’s not enough being written about this particular stage. And for those of us going through it at an unusually early age, that can feel extremely isolating.
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The menopause at 31 brings with it hormonal supplements, to replace what I’ve lost and prevent complications such as osteoporosis. Two years on from my hysterectomy, it has taken this long to get the right HRT. It can be such a balancing act, and I’ve worked through several versions. I thought I knew my body implicitly, before the menopause seemed to throw everything off course.
One HRT left me sobbing uncontrollably, while another created such severe night sweats I was unable to sleep at all. I’m much more sensitive to alcohol now, and when I do have a glass of wine, I tend to sleep with a cold flannel on my face to ward off the hot flushes. It definitely provides comedy value on a girls’ night away.
Fatigue, brain fog and muscle aches have also played a part, all much less now that I have the right hormone replacement medication. I do still have days where I can feel slow and tired, completely forgetful and downright distracted. My skin feels more dehydratedand I’ve become paranoid about hair texture, two factors making me indulge in some extra beauty TLC, which is no bad thing.
In a lot of ways, the menopause can be incredibly empowering as you know that one part of your life is complete, and you’re onto the next. Like finishing a chapter and venturing into the endless possibility of another. It’s another female rite of passage, and although my timing is unnatural, the whole process was always inevitable.
You also can’t underestimate the freedom associated with not having periods anymore, especially as mine were ridiculously heavy. Hello, white jeans, my new best friend.
Some weeks I feel wobbly, and with that same relief you grab when you realise tears stem from PMT, I know that it is menopausal hormones. I’ll be on HRT until my friends do catch up, but for now it is one determined day at a time.