Menstruation Matters

I am deliberately giving my post the same name as Bee’s new meme, in order for it to get as much exposure as possible, since I feel this is an important subject to write about.

Important enough for me to share my experiences, even though I haven’t menstruated for 27 years.

Yes, I am almost 52 and for the last 27 years I haven’t menstruated, because I had my uterus removed about a month before my 25th birthday.

Let me tell you how I got to this point…

I started menstruating just before I turned 11, and thankfully my mom had told me some about it, and what I could expect. She had said nothing about pain and discomfort, because she never experienced it. I can still vividly remember sitting on the loo one morning before school and staring at the dark red smudge in my light-colored nylon panties. It didn’t startle me, it didn’t intrigue me — I just noted that it was there and that was it.

But then it started…

My periods were always heavy and accompanied with discomfort. Okay, discomfort is lightly put. On the second to the fourth days it always felt like someone was trying to tear the flesh from my inner thighs. I barely ever had pain in my tummy or back, but my legs… oh gosh, my legs. That was painful and they always felt heavy and alien to me. But, I accepted that it was as part of this thing as it was that my bleeding was heavy on those three days, and that my periods were irregular. Sometimes they returned exactly after 28 days, but that was the exception to the rule of returning after 14 days or 60. I never knew when it was going to happen and as a school girl lived in fear for the moment that the back of my school uniform will be as stained as once happened to one of my friends, when her period unexpectedly started in class and she only noticed when the boys (and some girls) started laughing when she got up.

Then I fell pregnant at the age of sixteen and of course during the pregnancy I didn’t menstruate. Once my daughter was born, one of the first things I did was to start on the pill. Oh gosh, this was bliss! I knew exactly when my menstruation would start, and some months I even had no discomfort at all. My periods were still heavy, but other than that, all was well. When I got married I stopped with the pill and it took me more than a year to fall pregnant. After my son was born, I started on the same pill again, and I continued with it after my divorce when my son was seven months old. Back then my reasoning was that I was using it because it helped me with my menstruation cycle and not because I wanted to prevent pregnancy.

It must have been about 18 month after the birth of my son that I started having problems with my menstruation. Despite being on the pill, I sometimes menstruated for three weeks, dried up for two days and then started menstruating again. The doctor cold it ‘breakthrough bleeding’. I never skipped any periods, so that was not the reason for the breakthroughs. He put me on a different pill, but that didn’t solve the breakthroughs.

Since I had kids and wasn’t planning on having more, I actually asked the doctor for a hysterectomy. He refused. The reason: I was too young. He said I might want to have more kids if I married again. Without the doctor’s consent the operation wasn’t going to happen, so I carried on using the pill. The breakthroughs continued, I got a different pill again and again I asked him to do the damn operation. He refused again, asking me: “what if one of the kids you have now dies, and you want another to replace it?”

I kid you not. He seriously asked me that, and in no uncertain terms I told him that IF one of my kids passed away, having TEN other children will never replace the one I have lost.

So my trips to the doctor continued, until he switched me over to a stronger pill (his words) and suddenly… BLISS! My periods were regular again. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Finally!

Until eight months later I started having breakthrough bleedings again. I went back to the doctor and asked him to put me on a stronger pill. He told me it wasn’t possible, and blew my mind with his next words: this pill you are on now already is carcinogenic.

I mean, seriously, wasn’t this something he should’ve told me before he had put me on this pill. I asked him what his solution was and he said that there were two things he could do: he could sterilize me, but it wouldn’t solve my problems with menstruation, only with not getting pregnant again, or he could remove my uterus and that would solve the menstruation problems.

Of course I chose for the latter.

It was towards the end of January 1992 that I was admitted to the hospital, my children staying with my mom who specially came to visit to be there during this time, and my uterus was removed. My ovaries were left in place. I had the operation in the same hospital where I worked, and the male nurse who assisted with the operation afterwards told me that there were ‘quite a number’ of fibroids in my uterus. Whether those were the cause of the bleeding or the result of the carcinogenic pill I was on, I have no idea.

Of course my menstruation problems were solved after this operation, but something new started then: painful breasts when I was supposed to be menstruating. I still sometimes get them, but since I have been in (peri-)menopause for about 10 years now, they are slowly disappearing.

So there you have it, the reason I haven’t menstruated for 27 years… and counting.

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© Rebel’s Notes

5 thoughts on “Menstruation Matters

  1. What a thoughtless doctor, both his remarks on replacing a child and not informing you of the side effects. I’m glad to hear he finally (!) gave you the solution you’d been requesting all along, even if he did have to make it seem like his idea. We know our bodies best, after all!

    Interesting to hear that your breasts still became tender when you were due to menstruate. That isn’t a symptom I’d have given any thought to remaining, though it has occasionally been one of the worst side effects of my random hormones! N xx

  2. Thank you so much for joining in.

    Periods are just the worst. I’ve had bleeding lasting over 6 months, the pain became normality, the expense of pads and tampons was ridiculous and I remember nights of being huddled in a ball crying ‘make it stop’. Then any ‘treatments’ available have their own dire side effects.

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