Menopausal at age 36 ?!?
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
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 womenmost of them
much older than Iwho 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 childrenone 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
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
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>