Hot Flash. She’s the diva of menopausal symptoms. Everyone has heard of her.
For a few years, I’ve been dealing with several of her lesser known sisters.
(Men, proceed reading at your own risk….)
Recently, one of the least known sisters, Unending Period, made a call.
What the heck? I thought things were supposed to slow down and cease altogether. But, no, I get the opposite.
Which led me to ask, “Why?”
My hormones aren’t balanced. Apparently, I’ve got plenty of estrogen and not enough testosterone and progesterone. My nurse practitioner helps my body create hormone harmony. I maintain a regimen of bio-identical progesterone and testosterone she prescribed several years ago.
This estrogen dominance is why I’ve seen red for months (yes! Months!). My progesterone is depleted to a point where even my cream supplement is not able to raise the levels enough to squelch Flo.
Here’s the basics of the monthly cycle.
In compliance with God’s command to go forth and multiply, ovaries in a fertile woman hatch an egg once a month. (BTW, baby girls are born with a couple million potential eggs in their ovaries. )
Each potential egg (called oocyte) is housed in a structure called a follicle. Once a month, several follicles are recruited to create a full-fledged egg (ovum). Usually, only one follicle completes its assignment. Our over-achieving ovum produces estrogen.
Once the egg is released, the follicle morphs into a structure called a corpus luteum. The corpus luteum produces progesterone. Progesterone from the follice and estrogen from the egg cause the thickening of the uterine lining. If the egg is fertilized, the corpus luteum continues to produce progesterone to keep the uterine lining healthy and in place for the new embryo (until the placenta can take over progesterone production).
If there is no fertilization, the progesterone and estrogen levels plummet and the uterine lining is released. The menstrual cycle resets to day 1.
Progesterone is an important key to stopping blood flow.
My eggs have finally decided it was time to take that permanent vacation. Since I have no eggs being released, there is no corpus luteum producing progesterone. I have no progesterone to turn off what my estrogen has started.
So, my doc has changed my progesterone prescription from a cream to a pill. I’m now taking 400 mg of micronized progesterone.
(According to this study, micronized progesterone is effective in raising blood serum levels.)
Unfortunately, the progesterone is only like a small bandaid applied to an arterial bleed.
If I were a patient woman, I could try to wait this out and continue with the progesterone. Or, I could switch over to essential oils or Shaklee supplements. I’ve had lots of wonderful friends give me sincere advice, sharing things that have worked for them. I love them all so much for caring.
Aside from my friends’ solutions, the gynecologist I visited offered other solutions such as birth control pills, an IUD, or a medicine that is not hormone driven but acts as a blood coagulant (tranexamic acid).
I’ve given it all careful consideration. What I have decided is right for me. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your solution.
When I started bio-identical hormones in my early 40’s, it wasn’t to stave off menopause. It was to help me gently transition through menopause. I always knew that the cycle of life God created includes menopause. I want to experience this milestone.
At the age of 49, I’m done having kids. I’m headed toward a more permanent solution, a uterine ablation. An ablation destroys the uterine lining. As much as my uterine lining has been a special part of my cyclical female nature for the past 39 years, I’m ready to move on.
For the past 4 months, when someone asks how I’m doing, I don’t hold back. Everyone and their sister knows that I’m currently paying the salaries for 28 workers at Kotex. I tell them partly to whine and partly to network and find out other women’s experiences.
Apparently, this is more common than I knew. Tons of my friends have had ablations! According to a University of Michigan research group, “prolonged and heavy bleeding are common,” in menopausal women.
It’s not surprising that stress aggravates all kinds of perimenopausal symptoms, including missed periods and prolonged periods.
Fortunately, I have had the support and prayers of a compassionate, level-headed husband and a wonderful group of friends. I’m not freaking out, just highly annoyed with my body.
What about sexual engagement in spite of this difficult circumstance?
Keep communication lines open and frequently check-in during the week.
“Hey, I hope you aren’t feeling neglected. Will you be OK to wait until I’m having a better day?” There will be better days than others. The very next day you are feeling better, let him know. And to tell you the truth, you may be a bit antsy yourself for some lovin’, too.
God’s amazing plan.
Around the age of 50, men may start to notice a decline in their sexual hunger. Hormone production slows down in men, too. Due to numerous reasons, testes may slow the production of testosterone. Male menopause is known as ‘andropause.’
Nurture other ways of intimacy.
Sex is great, but if health has passion on pause, pursue emotional and spiritual intimacy. Make time to talk about how you are feeling about this with him.
In spite of having a candid personality, I didn’t bother Dave with many details of my monthlies when we were younger. However, the only way he can understand what I’m now going through is to tell him! He’s not a mind-reader. The more I tell him, the more compassion he has been giving me.
He was especially sweet when I told him the embarrassing story of my level 5 gushing while on the gynecologist table. My body decided it was going to prove a point. I was mortified. And yet, it also moved me way up on the docket for the ablation.
In addition to being candid with your man, also, find time to hang out together, be lighthearted, flirt. Flirting may seem as appealing as a banana to Dracula, but try to remember life outside of the draining. This too shall pass.
Most importantly, ponder scripture and pray together as you both walk further down the path of life.
Given the restrictions on menstruating women in Leviticus 15 due to uncleanness, menopause would have allowed much more personal freedom to women of the Old Testatment. Luke 2:37, “Anna never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer, night and day.”
Ladies, reproductive capacity no longer determines our value. Christ does! I’m also glad that we are valued for our ability to, “bear fruit in every good work,” Col. 1:10.