Today is January 4th, 2021.
I was informed by my doctor this afternoon that I am officially going through menopause.
I had bloodwork done last week to see what dosage I would need for a hormone replacement pellet which was implanted today. I originally wanted to get the pellet to improve my performance in the gym, balance my mood, improve focus, increase energy, etc.
I have been working out HARD for a little over four months and have seen big improvements in my strength and conditioning, but I am always exhausted afterwards. After my workouts, I almost always need a nap, and I become pretty grouchy and short tempered. Until today, I had been shrugging all of this off to simply wearing myself out at the gym.
The results of my bloodwork revealed that my testosterone AND my estrogen levels were just about zero. I thought that was kind of weird because my sex drive has always been fine. Those two markers, along with everything else in the results, pointed to either perimenopause or menopause. I haven’t had a hormone panel in so long that I’m not even certain when the last one was done.
This afternoon, my doctor, who is also my friend, walked in the exam room and said,
“Amy, you are in full blown menopause, how are you even coping? Your testosterone and estrogen levels are as close to zero as you can get. I have no idea how you are getting through those workouts! You must be working twice as hard as you have to.”
The room started to spin. My husband, Trey, was sitting in a chair next to the exam table and looked up at me said one word: WOW!
My doc kept talking but I seriously have no idea what she said. The word MENOPAUSE just hung in the air and kept ringing in my ears.
After a few minutes, she went ahead with the pellet insertion. A shot of Lidocaine, a small incision, and the pellet was inserted. She secured the incision with Steri-Strips. The process literally takes one to two minutes and is completely painless. Over the next three to four months, the pellet will release the hormones my body needs when it needs it.
I have had pellets before, but this time hit different; I am in menopause. No more periods. I am not ovulating. I am no longer “of child-bearing age”. The end of another chapter in my incredible life. And I am grieving it as I should, after which I will move forward to the next chapter. I got shit to do.
Thinking back, I haven’t had any hot flashes which I was totally expecting. I have, however, had a low tolerance for noise, messes, and I get annoyed easily. I lose my patience a lot. I need a nap daily. A few weeks ago I thought I had my period, so I put in a tampon. A couple hours later I went to change it and there was nothing there. That was the first time in a long time that I had seen ANY sign of Aunt Flow.
Yes, I am grieving. But regarding aging, I am honestly one of the most confident women you’ll ever meet, and I have what I would consider pretty high self-esteem. I know that my value has nothing to do with my egg production or ability to have babies. I have two awesome kids, and I love the ages they are right now. I cannot IMAGINE going through all of that again. Don’t get me wrong, I loved having babies. But…well… ya know… it’s exhausting and sticky. Be that as it may, I do have many sweet memories of them as teeny babies.
Women generally don’t talk about menopause. Some of my girlfriends and I will share with each other about it, but it’s in the same category as infertility, which I have also experienced. Menopause is just a crappy part of being a woman. We are very fortunate to live in a time where we have options like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that isn’t limited to messy creams, weekly injections, or patches.
Seventy-five percent of menopausal women will deal with mood swings which can mimic other mental health issues, so it’s important to let your doctor know if you are experiencing depression, irritability, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, followed by periods of calm, ease, and then back again. Some women feel like they are constantly PMS-ing. I experienced a little anxiety as well, but the BIGGEST symptom I have experienced has been a complete lack of patience with most everything and everyone around me.
I started working out with a trainer back in September and have focused on building strength and endurance. That has really helped with my symptoms. I feel stronger than ever, but my hormones were so out of whack that I would be terribly exhausted some days. I would even cry or get angry during workouts if I didn’t perform as well as I thought I should. I shrugged it off to my tendency towards perfectionism and my frustration that my once extremely athletic body couldn’t finish a workout and still have boundless energy. I’ll get it back. Just watch me.
I have followed an eating plan focused on lean protein, vegetables, and I only eat carbohydrates to fuel and recover from workouts. That has definitely paid off. My clothes are fitting better, and I can lift heavier weight each week. I’m digging my shoulder and arm development and look forward to seeing what the next four months yield.
The HRT pellet I had implanted today is going to have a positive impact on all of that with increased muscle mass, increased stamina, and increased recovery after hard workouts. It’s amazing just how big of an impact hormone level have on your athletic ability. I am very excited about that! Another huge plus, my chances of developing Alzheimer’s will be significantly lowered. My doctor also recommended a vitamin B Complex along with D3 with K2 supplementation, because my bloodwork results showed me to be low in those areas as well.
I texted my doctor a few minutes ago and told her I was feeling a bit of what I would describe as melancholy.
She said, “I saw your face when I told you, Amy. It’s hard, it’s another chapter to close.” She followed that by reminding me of my worth and of just how valuable I am. Women need to hear that at any age, but especially when we hit fifty.
I am happy to have the life experience and wisdom I have at fifty-one. There is a sense of confidence women over fifty which is incredibly attractive. The grief I feel isn’t about being a dried-up old lady, because I assure you, that ain’t me. My sex life is incredible! As I said, my libido hasn’t never really been affected by this. But then, I am also married to a man who really knows how to take care of me in the bedroom. I have ZERO complaints when it comes to sex, and while it’s safe to say that Trey and I have more than our fair share of it, I am not ALWAYS in the mood, which is normal for the majority of humans. (Except my husband, that horndog, hee hee)
So here I am… typing away. This is what I do when I need to get shit out of my head, and I really don’t know how to verbalize it. When I write, I can form cohesive thoughts, and read it back to see if it makes sense. That’s why journaling is so important. If you’re going through something and you can’t really put a finger on exactly what you’re feeling, write it out. It might make no sense to you at first, but come back to it, because your thoughts have a tendency to “gel” with a little time. At least that’s true for me.
My next birthday is this coming April, and I will be fifty-two years old. By then I will be a different version of me. Over the last several years, my hormones have slowly drained out of me like a leaky bucket, but thanks to medical science, I am getting filled back up. Isn’t that wonderful? I never lose hope, because one thing I have learned over the years is that you can ALWAYS count on change. NOTHING is permanent.
Now, this next part I REALLY want women to read and let soak in.
If you take away anything from this writing, I want you to know that you are ALWAYS in control of your life. Our female bodies are miraculous things. We can create life in our bodies if we choose to. We can feed our babies from our breasts if we choose to. And when we go through menopause, we are in control of just how well we go through it. We can cry and feel as if life is over, or we can seek solutions and thrive.
There are solutions for the challenges that come with menopause, and with aging in general, and we have the power to choose whether or not we seek them out. We can talk to our girlfriends, mentors, and moms. We can seek counseling and coaching to cope with life when the bumps happen. Never think you are powerless. I can’t think of a single obstacle life throws at us that we cannot overcome except death. So, if you’re not dead, keep going. Keep learning. Keep finding or creating solutions to the problems you are dealing with, because they, like everything else in life, are not permanent.
We can learn new ways to relax and feel good, and new ways to challenge ourselves. We can pick up a barbell and lift heavy things. We can improve our skin, our legs, our eyesight, our mood, our hair color. We are living in a time where there are options to improve our overall sense of self-esteem, too, whatever that looks like for you.
So, if you’re “of a certain age” take it from me, it is only over if you allow it to be. It’s entirely up to you. If you need a kick in the keester, I’m your girl. If you need a hug, that’s me too.
I have survived a lot and I will never ever just settle for what life throws at me. You shouldn’t either. You’re amazing.
highly sensitive person