I’m Italian and a Taurus and physically I’ve always run hot. I’m the one who goes out in winter without a wrap or a jacket and in short or no sleeves. I remember, as a child, my grandma always telling me to put a sweater on or I’d catch “a death of a chill”, but I never did. It has to be downright cold (much beyond ‘chilly’) before I wear long sleeves, much less any outerwear (I have jackets upon jackets that haven’t been worn in years).
There are many reasons that women are intended to have babies in their 20s and early 30s. Biology and physiology begin to work against us as we approach and pass over into our 40s. I am 6 months post partum and, yes, I have entered perimenopause.
It started over two months ago when my period returned with a vengance. It was far worse than any period I’d ever had, even when my uterus was riddled with fibroids. It was horrific. I’ve now been on BCPs continuously for 3 months and, knock wood, haven’t bled again since mid-June.
My mood on the first BCPs was also horrific. I was in a perpetually foul mood, quick to anger over the slightest thing, depressed with a gloomy outlook. I thought about leaving my family and getting my own apartment more than once.
And, to round out the trifecta of symptoms, I started having hot flashes. Of course, I attributed everything to being post partum and starting the Pill but now that we’ve adjusted the dosage of the BCP down, the only symptom that remains is the hot flash.
You know, when I was pregnant with my first, I felt that no one adequately prepared me for pregnancy. My friends painted a fairly rosey picture. After I gave birth, I felt that no one told me the truth about breast feeding…how hard it would be, the cracked nipples, sore beyond belief, and the sheer exhaustion of feeding or pumping 8-10 times a day. Oh, and the cumulative affect of sleep deprivation. Maybe there are no words in the English language to adequately convey what bone deep, mind-fucking sleep deprivation feels like, but no one attempted to prepare me.
So it goes with perimenopause (and, yes, for those who are curious, my hypothyroidism is under control, I just had my 3rd post partum thyroid panel) and hot flashes in particular. No one prepared me. Now, maybe that’s because, at 47, I’m on the early side and none of my friends have gone through it, yet. It would have been nice if my birth mother could have told me when it started for her or for my maternal grandmother, but, I digress.
I am having a hot flash (my second of the day and I’ve been awake for 3 hours) as I write this. The term doesn’t even really do it justice, although I now know they can come in many forms. The form mine takes is an all over body sweat from the backs of my knees to the nape of my neck. And, I mean wet sweat, like from an intense work out. I don’t feel hot, but my body thinks I am so it is sweating to cool itself. I am burning up from the inside. And, they last up to 1/2 hour, sometimes making it completely impossible to blow dry my hair or put on make-up, if one occurs while I am in the shower (yes, it is actually possible to sweat IN the shower) or just when I get out.
While I can’t predict when I will have one, I know for sure that I will always have at least one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and maybe one before bed. I absolutely know when one is starting. Without tempting fate, I do NOT have night sweats (even though they plagued me during my pregnancy), thanks be to the universe!
We’ve had to lower the temperature in the house (which, during our now 4 day triple digit heat wave, has been hard to do) as I can no longer live comfortably in 78 degree air. My preference would be 75 degrees, but in this heat, that means the a/c would run continuously, so I’ve settled at 77 degrees and sometimes I can’t get the house that cool. That will improve when this wave breaks.
I live in front of our fan. Even now, it is blowing at my back and I’ve taken multiple breaks to hold my hair up. I’ve been working for a couple of years to grow my hair long and it is in the best shape of my 40s, at the lower edge of my shoulder blades. As of late, I’ve considered cutting it all off, maybe in an asymmetrical bob, shorter in the back, longer in the front. I don’t know, but something has to give.
Estrogen is supposed to be the cure-all for hot flashes. But it seems that this microdose, 20mcg, while enough to keep the bleeding at bay, isn’t enough to stop the hot flashes. There is one herbal remedy, black cohosh, that has been shown to improve menopausal symptoms, hot flashed in particular. However, it is contraindicated to take while taking BCPs as the body converts it to estrogen and there’s no way to tell how much. My OB/GYN is supportive of me trying it but only if I come off the BCP which I refuse to do since it is keeping the bleeding at bay.
I’ve decided that I MUST get relief. I cannot and will not live like this for the next however many years. I’m not interested in increasing the dose of BCPs. Since I’m on the lowest dose, I’m going to add some daily black cohosh (my neighbor works for a skincare company that markets a product called “Flash Relief” which is a cream that includes black cohosh as its main ingredient (this was completely coincidental as his daughter is our sitter and she mentioned that she would get me a jar of this cream that was supposed to help and I asked if one of the ingredients was black cohosh and it turns out it is).
I’m going to get Suzanne Somers book, Ageless and do research on bio-identical hormones. The advocates are very outspoken about the positive benefits.
I am convinced, now, that my older son was truly conceived with my last good egg and that the reason for our diminishing returns, cycle after cycle, in our pursuit of #2, was precisely that I’d come to the end of my window of time. Ironically, I never had high FSH. My highest was 8. Knowing what I now know, I feel even more grateful that we did what we did when we did it and that we moved on when we did and that because of the very young age of the donor who produced the embryo that Baby G was born from, I was able to complete our family at all.