There is a whole list of symptoms of menopause, but since we are all individuals, not all of the female bodies get the same symptoms. Being no scientist, I believe this has to do with our DNA, our heritage and, well, just being different people. This also means when the first signs of menopause start, you might not even notice.
Asking my mom
My mom was 36 years old when not only her uterus, but also her ovaries were removed. After this operation, her body immediately went into menopause, but she never noticed it. The reason was that her doctor put her on hormone replacement therapy, and she never stopped taking those tablets. Only when she ended up in hospital five months before she passed, her hormones were taken away. She frequently suffered from hot flushes after that, and probably some other menopausal symptoms too, but those were masked by the grave illness she was fighting.
I never could ask my mom about the first signs she of menopause, simply because she never had them. I had a good bond with her older sister, but because she took the same tablets as my mom, she never noticed anything about the menopause either. Simply said, there was no one in the family I could ask.
A month before I turned twenty-five, now just more than 29 years ago, my uterus was removed after a long history of menstrual problems. Unlike with my mom, my ovaries were not removed, which meant, no menopausal symptoms, and also no more additional hormones.
However, since one of the first signs of menopause can be irregular menstruation, this is something I couldn’t notice, because of the removal of my uterus. I will never know, but I wonder if I even would’ve had this as a symptom, or would’ve been able to recognize it as one, as my periods have never been regular in the almost fifteen years I menstruated.
The first signs I noticed
I think I was about 42 when I started noticing the first signs of (peri-)menopause. It took a couple of months to realize what might be happening, but gradually I understood that some changes was taking place in my body.
Hot flushes and slow to cool down
This was the first thing I noticed. I would be in the office, sitting at my desk, working, and then suddenly feel my ankles getting warm, and the warm feeling running up my legs, through my body and ‘explode’ in my head, making me feel hot and… flushed. It happened irregularly, and it took me weeks to realize they might be hot flushes.
The realization of this only came when I noticed that I couldn’t seem to cool down when I felt warm. I was used to showering with the water as hot as possible, which always meant stepping out of the shower, I mostly shivered with cold and wanted to get dressed as quickly as possible. Then came a time when I didn’t feel cold, and the warm feeling would stay with me until about an hour after the shower. Some mornings I just loved stepping out in the winter cold to be able to cool down. Speaking of winter cold, I can’t tell you how many times I walked with my coat draped over my arm, instead of wearing it, because I felt too warm!
At irregular intervals, but on average every 4-6 weeks, I had painful nipples. I think that, if I still had my uterus, my sore nipples would’ve been linked in some way to my periods. Painful nipples aren’t listed as a symptom of menopause as such, but tender breasts are.
Not sleeping well
Oh how I hated this symptom. Sleep is incredibly important to me, and I hate having my night rest stolen. Together with those hot flushes, this was one of the very first signs I noticed: not being able to fall asleep, and then waking over and over during the night.
Probably because of the hormone fluctuation in my body, I started having frequent headaches. However, it took years to link this to menopause, as I always attributed it to being stressed.
The skin on my hands started peeling in different places, not only in winter but all through the year. I thought this was because I didn’t use my hand creme frequently enough, but even when I started using it more, my hands still didn’t improve. Then I learned it’s one of the symptoms of menopause.
My body is passed those first signs
It’s already twelve years after I noticed those first signs of menopause, and some more symptoms have shown up in my body. I’m sure I will share a lot more with you in the upcoming prompts for The Menopause Diaries.
© Rebel’s Notes
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