diaryofthemenopause

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18 months later……

It’s been around 18 months now since I had a total hysterectomy.   I made a decision to do this naturally, no form of HRT has been taken, not even herbal supplements.

 

So what have I learnt during these 18 months?

 

Weight gain after the menopause seems to be compulsory.  All those old photos depicting little old fat ladies we have all seen, it appears that’s my future.  For some reason your body seems to gain weight at a faster rate than it did previously.  Along with this I have also learnt exercise is essential post-menopause.  Swim, walk, cycle – it doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise, I’m not on about training for a marathon or the Tour De France, but do get out there at least 3 times a week.  You will feel better for it.  Even just a walk to the local shops is enough to make you feel better.

 

Hot Flushes don’t disappear quickly.  This is the one I was most curious about as HRT is a relatively new thing.  I don’t remember my Grandmother or any of my elderly Aunts sweating profusely and moaning about night sweats.  I do, however, remember my mother going through this badly enough that HRT was essential in her view.  I got lucky and I am thankful for this.  I do get them and they are quite unpleasant, but I can control mine very easily.  I wear tee-shirts and a cardigan.  As long as I can get the cardigan off, I can cool down enough for them not to overtake my life.  I have been known to occasionally run outside in the freezing cold winter nights to cool down a bit more, but this is rare for me.  I do get the night sweats, again I can control these with a fan.  As long as I have a fan pointed at me all night long, and I can just move the duvet off my body when I get them, I only get slightly disrupted sleep.  I’m not saying I never wake up feeling like I’ve fallen asleep in a steam-room, just I am luckier than the majority as for me, this is a rare occurrence.

 

Mood swings don’t hit everyone.  This is the one I am the most grateful for.  My periods, my pregnancy, my childbirth experiences were all mirror images of my mother.  My Mum was hit by the menopause so hard and it impacted every single aspect of her life.  The hot flushes for her were severe but her personality changed drastically.  My sister was the one brave enough to tackle this subject with her.  I was diagnosed with a severe form of PMS – PMDD, this was one of the reasons for my hysterectomy.  My periods were continual so I had permanent PMDD.  I was put on anti-depressants for this and I remained on them for the first 6 months following my hysterectomy.  My biggest worry was the same personality change I saw in my mother.  HRT gave my Mum her life back.  Sadly she was the one in 1,000 that got breast cancer from HRT.  She never came off it, she couldn’t face life without HRT and even after her secondary cancer diagnosis, the one thing she never regretted was taking HRT and staying on it for so long.  I was a monster with PMDD and this was my one non-negotiable change that would put me on HRT.  I’d have ended up living alone.  I’m not sure how helpful the anti-depressants were in the beginning.  I came off them slowly and no-one saw any drastic change in my personality.  I’ve now been clear of them for well over 9 months so I think I can safely say the very flawed personality type I have right now, is all me.  But thankfully it is liveable with (just about).

 

Headaches and migraines are far less frequent, to the point of almost being non-existent, without a uterus.  I cannot claim this for scientific fact of course.  I have suffered from migraines since my teens.  I have been on beta-blockers to stop them as no-one could actually tell me what triggered them.  I came off the beta-blockers the same time I came off anti-depressants following my hysterectomy and my headaches are few and far between and I have had one full-blown migraine in 18 months.  Previously I was around 2-3 a month.  So, although not medically proven, bye bye uterus, bye bye migraines.

 

I have never once regretted my decision to go through with the total hysterectomy.  Life without hormones is nicer, especially if you didn’t have a great time of it during puberty and early adult years and spent 30 years of your life fighting migraines, heavy periods no-one could explain, PMS and sickness every time you had a period.  HRT is a personal choice and the severity of the symptoms that come with the menopause vary from person to person and I know they can be severe and life impacting.  I really am one of the lucky few.  For me my choice was based on my mother.  My whole life has been mirrored to hers and I really was so concerned I would also be the 1 in a 1,000 HRT patients who were more prone to developing breast cancer, but whose life was so badly impacted by the menopause you felt there really was no alternative.  I know this doesn’t mean I’m clear.  There is every chance our family is just prone to it anyway and my Mum would have got it without HRT, but watching someone fight and lose to that awful disease made it my prime goal to do this without adding any additional risk factors.

 

If any men are reading this, my experiences are on the nice end of the menopause spectrum.  If you want to experience hot flushes then dress up in jeans, socks, trainers, tee-shirt, cardigan and jacket and go and sit in a sauna.  For 20 mins you are not allowed to remove any item of clothing.  Now imagine feeling that way at any time of the night or day, with no warning.  Now imagine trying to sleep through the night.  This is the best way I can think of describing the worst hot flushes I have had.  I have spoken to more than enough women to realise this is far more common than my experiences of them are.

 

I am now post-menopausal, fat and old.  Hopefully the flushes I do get will go completely in time, but I am HRT free and now just need to change every other aspect of my life to lower any risks I have for diabetes, heart-disease, etc.  I may as well be fit, fat and old so I can enjoy the rest of my life without hormones!

 

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