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Menopausal at age 36 ?!?

If I had to tell a young woman one thing as she was facing menopause at an early age, it would be this, "Don't give up! Never surrender to some hormones!" I know now that if I had sought to take control of my condition, I would be a very different person today.

Spring 1986, fourteen years ago, a man looked me straight in the eye and said, "You're menopausal, your FSH levels tell me you are." But I was only 36 years old, how could that be?

That GYN explained nothing; he patted me on the head and handed me a script for HRT and a promise that that would make it all better. Well, it did help with the night sweats that dragged me from once perfect sleep. But the psychological shock of being menopausal at the peak of my career and sex life was way beyond my skill even though I prided myself on the ability to bounce back from anything. I was a highly skilled teacher on her way to rising to administrative positions, and here I was on the beltway driving home in tears. Menopause meant a signal of mortality, senior citizens, retirement, golden age clubs.

The shame of it at thirty-six was indescribable. But most of all it was lonely. Not even my sister who was 52 at the time was going through menopause yet. It was my secret, and I would carry it alone for more years than I would ever want to admit to now (just having turned fifty this April).

There was nothing I could do about it but face the music and dance to the different drummer who was playing my song. I became a menopause expert, at first quietly and then by my forties more outwardly. However, I found an entire sisterhood of women—most of them much older than I—who would bring me alongside them to tell me tales of woe and wonder of how they were getting along or how they got through "IT".

For me menopause was traumatic because my husband and I had gone through fertility procedures to try and have children—one would have been fine. But I buckled under the fateful blow that I had felt biology had thrown my way. I did further harm to myself by just giving up like some defeated character in a Greek tragedy.

If I had to tell a young woman one thing as she was facing menopause at an early age, it would be this, "Don't give up! Never surrender to some hormones!" I know now that if I had sought to take control of my condition, I would be a very different person today.

I gave up fertility treatments. Then, when my back went out, I gave up exercise. When things got stressful at work, I gave up my high-paying job. Shall I go on? No, you know that I learned from my mistake. And that's why I'm writing this little confession.

I want some young woman to come along and read this and become her own advocate, her own best friend. Because there is a new world for women who are on their own side. A savvy woman won't just give up.

In the meantime, I have seen a new world open up on menopause. There are more women doctors and researchers. There are more choices in HRT whether it is chemical or more natural with the triestrogens. There is certainly a whole array of choices and attitudes that go along with this natural change in the passage of time that we call menopause.

I've become a foster mom to assuage the emptiness of not having a child. I've done everything I need to do to make my life better not because of menopause or inspite of menopause, but because I am a woman who has so much to share with the world and because life goes on no matter what you have to go through to live it fully.

Catherine Griffiths <Claudel2000@aol.com>

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated  05/15/2010