The "Talk" for 45-year old women
November 22, 2018 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Puberty for the Middle-Aged (SLNYT) We need to have The Talk, but for 45-year-olds. Doctors should speak to their patients about the changes that could lie ahead and how to prepare for them. And we perimenopausal women need to talk to one another, and the rest of the world, about what’s happening. Because a lot of it, to me, is really weird, really surprising and really hard to sit comfortably through, from the stray chin hair — O.K., hairs — to the decreasing bone density.
posted by bunderful (110 comments total) 110 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve thought many times about making a “So you’re getting older” book done in the style of a children’s book. From graying pubic hair (what, no!) to unruly eyebrow hair that spreads while simultaneously thinning, along with the eyebrow hairs that grow about 10 ft long because why not?! (Geez there is a lot about hair in the mix)

This would fit nicely in that imaginary book.

Assuming it doesn’t already exist, I haven’t looked. Any potential collaborators, memail me. I can’t draw for shit.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:19 AM on November 22, 2018 [17 favorites]

When I got my IUD, I asked the nurse about menopause and how will I know if the IUD has already caused my period to stop. She laughed and said, "you'll know."

I was dubious but 4 years later, I understand (she said wiping sweat off her nose.)
posted by vespabelle at 9:43 AM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

She didn't mention being, uh, horny on main a lot for women, that is definitely A Thing. Hormones aren't just for mood swings and hot flashes y'all.

Anyway, most of these types of articles either seem like a catalog of horrors that just depress you, or a patronizing head pat about maybe finding new hobbies now that your true woman job--being seen as fuckable by every male rando--is now beyond your reach forever. The subtext to both is, well you're pretty much waiting for death at this point, try not to depress or disgust everyone around you till that happens.

Fuck all that, truly.
posted by emjaybee at 9:46 AM on November 22, 2018 [88 favorites]

Hi! I'm 45! My friends and I talk about this stuff all the time. I feel like maybe the issue isn't so much that you need your doctor to sit you down and "have the talk," but that you need women friends who are slightly older and slightly younger than you, and with whom you feel comfortable enough to talk about your stray chin hairs and whatnot.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:56 AM on November 22, 2018 [15 favorites]

I can't draw either, [insert clever name here], but I'd definitely buy your book!

It was interesting to start going through perimenopause earlier than my similarly aged friends. I felt like Cassandra: I remember a conversation a few months ago where I described what was happening to me and they were horrified and insisted it couldn't be perimenopause because we were all too young for that.

But now a few months later I'm having conversations with them as they are surprised to be experiencing those things and I'm like, uh huh, yes, it does suck doesn't it, thinking, well, I tried to warn you!

That said, I'm not crazy about my male doctor's take on it either: that there's not really anything I can do about the symptoms, one of which included my already shitty periods coming closer and closer together and getting heavier and heavier and more and more painful. He was essentially ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ although he did test me for anemia and it turns out I am indeed low in ferritin and have had to start taking iron supplements.

I did like the part in the article where she talked about not really caring what other people think anymore and prioritizing what's really important. I have found that to be mostly true. Of course those are not physical symptoms that come with perimenopause, but rather things that come with the life experience of being middle aged. I'd prefer to skip the physical shittiness and just take the middle aged wisdom.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:56 AM on November 22, 2018 [10 favorites]

I asked my (young) doctor for a book recommendation when I started into peri menopause and she said there was no such thing. I was flabbergasted! Think about all the pregnancy books! This is as big a deal, and ALL women will go through it. Still mad. Also, I went back on the pill to control the insane periods.
posted by Malla at 10:02 AM on November 22, 2018 [13 favorites]

I'm perimenopausal. The hot flashes! Wow. And they hit at the worst times.

I was standing in line at ShopRite when one hit, and I guess the sudden appearance of a drowned rat, like you could wring out my shirt, and the melted waxy face was so concerning that the check out kid asked if I was all right.

No, no I'm not all right. I want to strip naked, shower in freezing water, and then lie naked in front of an A/c on full blast.

I swear men die earlier then women from the sheer collective psychic rage that men don't go through this bullshit.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:12 AM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I am 50. I decided a few years ago that I would talk about this stuff. I dont care if it bothers you. Being female is not a pathology and 51% of the population experiences menstruation, misscarriages, peri/menopause.

Personally Ive been having a very easy time (hormonal birth control can be very helpful) but I have friends dealing with more unpleasant stuff like surprise two week period! Its pretty enraging that there are so few resources for information and even our doctors cant tell us much. [insert clever name] I can drawn decently, lets do it. In fact the book might be an awesome Crone Island™ collaboration!

And yes omg Im horny AF all the time like my bods like "get while the gettins good!!" cause who knows when this is all gonna shrivel and blow away like a deccicated corpse...
posted by supermedusa at 10:13 AM on November 22, 2018 [28 favorites]

posted by Space Kitty at 10:23 AM on November 22, 2018 [16 favorites]

Been there, done that, and I'm here to say it was not that bad. Maybe you'll get lucky too? I remember having one real hot flash, and otherwise I just couldn't regulate my temperature - one minute I'd be chilly, then the next minute I'd be too warm. I did have a lot of trouble concentrating for a while. At this point I feel normal. I could be kidding myself, but I don't really have any genuine issues to complain about.

My mother had a hysterectomy in her late 20s, and her mother died at my mom's birth so I didn't have anyone to compare myself to.

This is just to say, that I wish there were more voices like supermedusa saying it might be ok. It is not the same for everyone, and it is not necessarily something to dread. My biggest fear as the age approached was that I would be put on meds that would turn out to cause cancer, but I haven't needed anything.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:34 AM on November 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

I can draw.

I was at a meeting a few months back where a bunch of us women attendees decided to take a walk, and we ended up talking about menopause and our funny stories, and our horror stories, and we were laughing and having a great time. All women should have that kind of camaraderie.

Bring it on, [insert clever name here]!
posted by acrasis at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2018 [17 favorites]

Last December I started randomly dripping urine once or twice a day. Just a drop. Even when my bladder was emptied. I took a urine test at my physician, they ruled out a UTI and told me to call my OBGYN. I left a message on the nurse line with a description of my symptoms and got a call back FIVE DAYS LATER. (If you're not having a baby, you're not money.)

The nurse said,'re 45! Be thankful it waited this long, hun.
Me: Is this perimenopause?
Nurse: Could be, could not be. If it gets to a point where you're soaking a pad, call a urologist. But if anything out of the ordinary happens, call back.
Me: This. Is. Out. Of. The. Ordinary. That's why I'm calling.

With that, I scored an appointment to see my GYN six weeks later. By then it had ended, but she and I talked and yeah, this is the beginning and nobody knows what to expect. THEN I told my mother, who said, "Oh? That? Yeah. That happens." And then cried because she's old enough to have a child in perimenopause. (Boomers.)

The random drips happened once for a 2 week span since then, and again went away on its own. My periods are insanely heavy now. But the overnight eyebrow hairs are a thing to behold.

Is Crone Island still focused only on EL? Because if there's a channel on menopause, I'd love to commiserate.
posted by kimberussell at 10:49 AM on November 22, 2018 [12 favorites]

I have emerged from menopause and can tell you that it is survivable if not pleasant, but I had a moderate experience and that colors the perception of the process immensely. My situation meant that I had very few IRL sources for information so I was exceedingly grateful for knowledgeable, accurate sources on the internet to guide me. I would have loved a book that detailed some of the less discussed aspects in addition to the major ones. This might be a great project for some who can write well; drawn pictures would be a huge bonus. Also, humorous anecdotes that can take the sting out the bad days.
posted by Silverstone at 10:49 AM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I am all over providing detailed anecdotes for this book.
posted by blurker at 10:58 AM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Omg I love you all
posted by supermedusa at 11:03 AM on November 22, 2018 [14 favorites]

I'm here to say it was not that bad. Maybe you'll get lucky too? ...I wish there were more voices like supermedusa saying it might be ok.

I'd like to hear more of those voices too. Those whose experiences have been moderate or mild compared to the many horror stories - please share your stories too! We need this kind of Crone Island wisdom as well!

I turned 51 last month, and my periods stopped about nine months ago. I made a drastic change in my diet around the same time for unrelated reasons (shifted to very low-carb; not quite keto, but close), and I have felt great this year compared to what I felt like in my 40s. No hot flashes. It certainly helps a lot that I'm on antidepressants that work well with no side effects. I do restorative yoga almost every day now too, which has done wonders to improve my moods. But I'd like to think that there's a possibility that I'll be mostly OK in my menopausal years. Hope me...?
posted by velvet winter at 11:07 AM on November 22, 2018 [19 favorites]

I feel like maybe the issue isn't so much that you need your doctor to sit you down and "have the talk," but that you need women friends who are slightly older and slightly younger than you, and with whom you feel comfortable enough

that's a great bonus but not a replacement. no woman should have to depend on luck and some kind of friendship whisper network for fundamental medical information about the human body, any more than a minor child should have to depend on having enlightened parents to get decent sexual education.

knowing very little about menopause until it happens to you or your friends is a problem for everyone, not least people who are never going to undergo the process for biological reasons. same as with childbirth. everyone, including men, needs more than a scattering of anecdotes and complaints with which to form their understanding and expectations.

(but obvs nobody needs the kind of joke-hateful lecture outlined at the beginning of the link. the whole reason that serious medical education would be nice is so you could avoid this kind of smirking nudging misogynistic ostensibly 'friendly' discourse about women in adulthood.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2018 [32 favorites]

it's bizarre that I have a clear picture of most trans people's first few years on HRT but not menopause or perimenopause, including the awkward genital bits, given the populations that will go through these things.
posted by bagel at 11:25 AM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Can someone tell me how to get to Crone Island? The cyberspace place, not the mythical-but-maybe-if-we-wish-really-hard actualfax island.

I would buy the book, btw. I am shocked that there isn't one; I figure, if there were, every other woman in this thread would be recommending it, so that absence tells us that a) none exists and b) there's a market desperate for it.
posted by tzikeh at 11:29 AM on November 22, 2018 [7 favorites]

For not unpleasant anecdotes, I just asked my mother about hers (in a loud voice and without preamble, so ignoring her first response of “...what?”) and:

“Eh. Not that bad. Messed up my sleep a little bit [her sleep is already messed up tho] and I still get a hot flash every once in a while [at 65]. Didn’t start until 57 or 58, but my periods were messed up starting at 55. It was annoying at worst.”

Annoying at worst! I’ll take it.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:29 AM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm 49.

My GYN, who is retiring soon, is an older woman, and when I started seeing her I was 39, almost 40, like, 2 weeks from it. She talked over with me about the changes to expect over the years as I entered my 40s, so I was a little bit prepared. So, yes about temperature regulation issues, though I've had no hot flashes, as such. Yes about weird periods (and some months earlier this year I didn't have one at all, which was GREAT!). Yes about my hair thinning, which I'm sad about, but will start Rogaine soon. I don't want to lay out $4-$6K for the best wigs just yet.

But what made me slump for five minutes in my vanity chair to see as I was making myself up to go out to dinner a couple of months ago?

One long, long white nose hair.

I was mortified, partially because I suddenly remembered making fun of my grandfather as a 5 year old about the hair growing out of his ears. ::sigh:: I iced my nostril, then yanked that fucker out. Of all the maintenance of my person I knew I'd need to keep up with, I had no idea I'd have to add "Nose Hair Watch" to the list.
posted by droplet at 11:32 AM on November 22, 2018 [7 favorites]

1. Most excellent perimenopause & menopause resource:
Susun Weed's "Wise Woman Ways Menopausal Years
2. Acupuncture & Chinese herbs can really help some women

And, ladies, just wait till you reach 70 and the next round of changes!
Truly we need 'how to" books for these metamorphoses - now that we no longer live in extended families where older & younger women share their experiences and support.
posted by Mesaverdian at 11:34 AM on November 22, 2018 [13 favorites]

My menopause was mostly uneventful, the same way my mother's was. And menopause cleared up my uterine fibroids. But I have a friend who has had a decade of hot flashes, so I don't say anything smug around her.
posted by acrasis at 11:39 AM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you are experiencing perimeno dry eyes, hair, skin a daily flax seed oil supplement helps immensely
posted by supermedusa at 11:41 AM on November 22, 2018 [8 favorites]

48 here.

I pretty much started getting hot flashes about 7 years ago, and the periods started getting pretty irregular three years after that. The sleep cycle going haywire was the worst part, but it's a toss-up as to whether that was due to perimenopause or due to other life stress (a lot of which was also going on). That's starting to calm down, and I'm down to my cycle running with like three months between periods and they are also much lighter.

The latest annoying bit is the....dyspareunia. Which my doctor has indicated is sort of a self-perpetuating problem - less lubrication makes things sore, and the vaginal walls dry out, and when things dry out they are even more sore, which makes you less inclined to have sex, which makes things dry out more, and....and, and, and. My doctor fortunately has been pretty approachable about this, and when she told me that any kind of sexual activity could help lube things up, I just responded, "'re basically prescribing sex."

"Well....if that's what works best, then go for it."

My drive to find someone to have sex with has flagged recently (although that may be largely due to a more societal "there are vanishingly few unmarried men who aren't JERKOFFS" issue), but...I do try to, er, keep a hand in just in case.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:48 AM on November 22, 2018 [13 favorites]

Seconding diet as a major contributing factor to mood swings. When I keep the carbs down to a dull roar, I do a lot better. I do believe I'm more sensitive to diet than I used to be.

My mom had her period till her sixties; given that I'm 53, have yet to have a hot flash, and my cycle has started being weird only this year, I'm likely headed in that direction. My bone density isn't the greatest, but after a lifetime of caffeine and not eating properly (eating disorder, dontcha know), not to mention genetic predisposition, I'm relieved that it's not yet at "clinical" levels.

Oh yeah: my sex drive was an absolute nuisance from about four years ago till earlier this year. I don't miss that at all. (That area of my life has always been fraught at best...YMMV.)

and YES FLAX OIL. I've heard borage oil is slightly better wrt omega-3s, but flax oil is very helpful.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 11:48 AM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dang it, now I want to write this book.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 11:55 AM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I hope this book gets written because Google is full of "Menopause is natural and normal except if you have irregular periods, it probably means you have CANCER so see your doctor" so I have given up.
posted by The otter lady at 12:22 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Menopaws - The Silent Meow.

A slightly younger friend gave this to me when I first started on the hot flushes. A few years later, I gave it back to her... It's really good to have a friend who cares, shares, and laughs with you in a time of sweat and tears.
posted by Thella at 12:24 PM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

I named my chin hair Large Marge and I fidget with her constantly, like I’m stroking the luxurious beard she wants to be. It’s very soothing. Sometimes I will pluck her just for the sensory satisfaction of feeling her grow back. Aging gave me my own fidget spinner.

Large Marge predates my surgical menopause by several years. I have my first post surgical hormone check in two weeks and I’m really hoping they up my estrogen dose. Can I ask for a higher dose? Is that something I can do? My GP thinks my estrogen is probably too low but doesn’t want to step on any toes.
posted by Ruki at 1:00 PM on November 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm 45 and a recent experience made me think there really should be a road-trip buddy movie with two women in their late forties to fifties but the inevitable running joke would be "pull over at this next exit, I have to pee again". Even if no one drank a single goddamn drop of anything all day.
posted by dilettante at 1:04 PM on November 22, 2018 [15 favorites]

if anyone had warned me previously that after about 35 the daily struggle is to just fucking poop normally i would've worked harder at dying young
posted by poffin boffin at 1:22 PM on November 22, 2018 [23 favorites]

if anyone tells me to drink more water i cannot be held responsible for my actions
posted by poffin boffin at 1:23 PM on November 22, 2018 [24 favorites]

Ha! I got my chin hairs in my 20s!
posted by Grandysaur at 1:38 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have hyperhidrosis (and probably an undiagnosed thyroid condition) so I can never tell if I'm having a hot flash or if I'm just my regularly hot and sweaty self.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:39 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also both my mom and grandma had endometriosis and hysterectomies in their late 30s (followed by hormones, followed by DCIS 30 years later), so I have no idea what's in store for me (who does not have endometriosis, who has never had kids, and who will NOT be going on hormone therapy of any kind thanks). Navigating through menopause blindly...and sweatily.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:42 PM on November 22, 2018

i've been giddily uterus-free for 4 years and stopped keeping track of my cycles about 18 months in so idk if they're still the rigidly predictable 25 days or not. i asked my gyn about how to identify perimenopause symptoms without period-based clues and her ominous proclamation was "oh, you'll know" so i presume i will burst into actual flames like a majestic phoenix.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:03 PM on November 22, 2018 [48 favorites]

And, ladies, just wait till you reach 70 and the next round of changes!

Wait, what! I thought menopause was it. Are you meaning the entry into true "old age"?
posted by beaning at 2:30 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ha! I have many Opinions on this subject and, what is much worse, a Theory.

We could certainly do with a helpful book that points out that menopause is every bit as dramatic a change as puberty. I went through the whole process about ten years ago, and all the books I found might as well have been titled "Scare Yourself Shitless About the Menopause". Half a chapter of "this is a natural, normal process", then a whole book of horrible symptoms and dreadful things to look out for. The only light relief was when I was reading a bit about "formication|", which is the sensation of having ants crawling on your skin - at that exact point I felt a tickling feeling on my leg and was immensely relieved to see that it was actually an ant. At that time, the only people I had to talk about it with were mostly much younger than me, so I was reduced to terrifying the women with horrible visions of their future, and well, just terrifying the men. On the whole, I had been looking forward to the menopause in a way (puberty basically ruined my life and I was rather hoping to get back to "normal"), and perhaps because of this, I didn't do too badly. The main negative was the total disruption of my sleep patterns, and the main positive, besides no more periods, was no more migraines! For a while around then the NHS was recommending HRT for everyone, then after a couple of years they decided it caused cancer and stopped it - for me, HRT restored most of the horrible bits of pre-menopause like continual weeping and the bloody migraines again, but did at least restore my sleep. I was quite relieved when it stopped.

Anyway, that Theory. Humans and killer whales are the only mammals that have a menopause - all other female mammals continue knocking out babies until they die, presumably of exhaustion. The current theory is that since out offspring take ages to mature, it is useful for us (and orcas) to have an experienced generation with no babies of their own to look after the older kids, while the younger women focus on the babies. In other words, post-menopausal women Know Stuff. Now look at all those Paleolithic Venus figures. Theories as to what they are vary, but tend to run on the lines of "mother goddess" and (fnarr, fnarr) stone-age porn. Now I go swimming, and I've seen lots and lots of women exactly that shape (hell, I'm that shape myself), and they are not mother goddesses, they are grandmother goddesses, the presiding deities of Crone Island. We may sweat a bit but we are all Big Damn Goddesses, and you owe us awe!

Now, back to my plans to make small white goatee beards fashionable for women...
posted by Fuchsoid at 2:38 PM on November 22, 2018 [48 favorites]

I too would buy the book, especially since even my awesome female doctor who's about my age seems fairly nonchalant about menopause. I'm 49 and so far it hasn't been too bad for me. The chin hair is unsettling but also weirdly fascinating - I'd say I have developed around 30 separate hairs, mostly just under the chin, and I find myself constantly running my fingers over my chin to see if anything's pluckable yet. Like Ruki, it feels like a fidget spinner for me.

The worst of it is night sweats - I now understand why separate beds and bedrooms were so popular amongst the middle-aged couples of my childhood (most of whom were lucky enough that their children had left home). I can get into bed freezing and yet be racing hot just half an hour later, and wake up a few times a night, wringing wet with sour-smelling sweat.

Stuff happens to my moods but mostly it seems to be actually good stuff. But if there are invites to Crone Island, I'd love one too.
posted by andraste at 3:12 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Would buy the heck out of that book.

I'm about to turn 49 and went through menopause, I guess? this year. Went from having very regular periods through a transition where I had a few off and on, to I think the last one was four or so months ago. I did have some mild hot flashes during the transitional phase but nothing since then. So I'm feeling quite lucky about that, but it would be good to have some guidance on what else is normal for this process and what is attributable to something else.
posted by Preserver at 3:24 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, can any UK MeFites comment on why the British call it "the menopause"?
posted by Preserver at 3:25 PM on November 22, 2018

Fuchsoid: The only light relief was when I was reading a bit about "formication|",

I'd been hoping the word was meant to be "fornication" cuz I have a gutter mind, but I will happily take this new-to-me word into my vocabulary instead!

Mesaverdian: ladies, just wait till you reach 70 and the next round of changes!

What? Seriously, I need details.

I'm 47. Last year my sister, who is 7 years older, whispered to me, "I'm in perimenopause."
Me, brightly: "Me too!"

On one hand I'm annoyed to be going through it at the same time as my 7 years older sister. On the other hand, what with the impending criminalization in these parts of abortion and miscarriages-that-seem-suspicious, menopause can't happen soon enough.

My experience: Periods every 2 weeks, sleep disturbances (melatonin is helping), I just plucked 2 long chin hairs an hour ago (I LOOKED for the damn things 3 days ago and found nothing), I'm peeing way more often than I ever did, memory is dramatically worse than 2 years ago (but I'd been putting that down exclusively to Trumpocalypse stress and grief). No hot flashes yet. Overall it's not horrible just annoying.

I love you all. Thanks for being here. Fuck yeah I'd buy y'all's book.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:35 PM on November 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

There is one currently existing resource along these lines: "Ourselves, Growing Older", from the Boston Women's Health Book Collective (the makers of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"). But I, too, would like this book from the Crone Island Health Book Collective. Or it could be a web site? Scarlecrone instead of Scarleteen? Maybe we could also entice Erika Moen into helping out with it?
posted by eviemath at 4:10 PM on November 22, 2018 [10 favorites]

You're all very reassuring about chin hairs. I had a male colleague take me aside to ask me to ask another female colleague to pluck her chin hairs, which he found 'distracting". He is seriously lucky not to have anything plucked.
posted by acrasis at 4:19 PM on November 22, 2018 [16 favorites]

By me, I mean.
posted by acrasis at 4:21 PM on November 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

I need the book!!!! I'm sort of pre-perimenopausal? Maybe? I have had chin hairs for several years, eyebrows are getting weird, this year I started waking up in the night just because I get too hot (not sheets soaked with sweat hot, just too hot). And now I wake up at 5.00 or 6.00 and get up, after years of sleeping through alarms (but it's not a consistent 5.00 wakeup that I could build a routine around and get used to). And my periods are on a 21-day cycle. Libido is frighteningly intense when flirtations crop up but luckily that's rare.

If the book happens now - or better yet a blog that later gets turned into a book - that would be pretty damn awesome.

Title suggestion: Are you there, God/dess? It's me, Mavis.
posted by bunderful at 4:53 PM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

(Oh, Erika Moen has already done a strip on menopause! Not comprehensive, since it's only one day's panel in Oh Joy, Sex Toy, but does provide a reassuring perspective.)
posted by eviemath at 5:02 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Podcast, anyone...?!?!?
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:05 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Chin hairs since 20. Protip; always carry a pair of tweezers in your purse, because no light shows up chin hairs you missed as well as morning or afternoon light through your car window, when you look in the vanity mirror. Find a discreet parking spot to pluck those fuckers.

My little mustache hurts too much to pluck, I just shave it every morning.

I was surprised by my random eyebrow hairs.

I dealt with an increase in moles by getting a dermatologist to get rid of the ugliest ones...and check for any dangerous ones.

For inspiration these days I look to Pru on GBBS. Her glasses+necklaces+tunic outfits rock.
posted by emjaybee at 5:07 PM on November 22, 2018 [10 favorites]

I like the idea that with puberty we become adults and with menopause it's our role to be wise. Society is somewhat receptive to that, based on the current admiration for women like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Maxine Waters.

This book... I'm imagining a take-off on "The Gashlycrumb Tinies", where each day there is a new woman "C is for Catherine, whose chin-hairs are long..."
posted by acrasis at 5:53 PM on November 22, 2018 [15 favorites]

I had a male colleague take me aside to ask me to ask another female colleague to pluck her chin hairs, which he found 'distracting"

posted by schadenfrau at 5:57 PM on November 22, 2018

I mean, asking you that? that has to be creating a hostile work environment, no? Because I can feel that hostility over the internet.

Throw that man into the sun.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:58 PM on November 22, 2018 [31 favorites]

Trans womanish person here. Last year when I had surgery I went about 6 weeks with zero hormones in my body and the hot flashes and sweating of menopause were absolute hell. When I finally asked my endocrinologist what was happening she told me I was experiencing menopause and to resume injecting estrogen immediately.

I support the idea of any person using HRT to avoid menopause.
posted by nikaspark at 6:02 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Honestly, I've known him for 20 years and he's just clueless. It boils down to many men seeing women as sexualized objects who need to KEEP UP APPEARANCES. I'm a scientist. That's my role at work, and I don't see why I need to use make-up, dye my hair, or wear heels. I'm not looking for a date, I'm trying to culture fungi. And this should not just be for post-menopausal women, this should be for ALL women. One of my students, who is lovely and smart and funny, was devastated when the guy she was interested in said he wanted to break things off because she didn't wear makeup or dress more femininely. My other student was outraged, but I was the one who wanted to put my fist through the door.
posted by acrasis at 6:07 PM on November 22, 2018 [24 favorites]

Riffing here but let me say: it's less lonely when it turns out you're not the only one in the galaxy with these experiences and feelings.

I learned absolutely nothing from my mom about having a period. Learned everything from a friend whose mother told her, and couldn't believe I didn't know. As for advice about what to do when the dambursts become more frequent, and then more unreliably timed, and you are so angry you could cry or commit a felony--well, nobody told me about that, either. So keep the conversation going.

Regarding face hair: I get a chin hair once in a while, another sometimes near my mouth. It's a reminder to me that IT'S TIME TO SHAVE YES YOU ARE RIGHT I SHAVE MY WHOLE FACE EXCEPT FOR BROWS WHY DO YOU ASK...

When my HRT wears off, I get truly angry. Talk about instant meds wear-off. It's like a veil drops and hello Medusa.

Throw that man into the sun.

Let me help you.
posted by datawrangler at 6:11 PM on November 22, 2018 [15 favorites]

I went through a very mild experience; it was so mild I forced my gynecologist to give me a pregnancy test just to make sure. He was mildly annoyed, and he sure as heck wasn't interested in telling me what was coming (though he wanted me to get a bone density test because I was "white and slight," as he said. I'm real white but I sure wasn't slight at that point, so I told him no. I think some gynecologists get into the field because they are into women having babies, so we're just not interesting to them when we enter the invisibility stage of a woman's life.

The upside of having hair on my upper lip and in my nose (which I pluck regularly) is that I don't have to shave my legs or my armpits very often, but yes, I do shave the peach fuzz on my face. And I don't get hot flashes much any more. They weren't nearly as bad as my mother's.
posted by Peach at 6:39 PM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Don't forget the water retention! I'll go for days when I barely pee at all, and gain seven pounds. Then a few days later, I'll be peeing all day and the weight goes back down. Fun times.

I support the idea of any person using HRT to avoid menopause.

Nah, it didn't work for my mother. Caused her to have these weird muscle spasms, and she fell a couple of times when her leg muscle gave out. Discontinued HRT, problem solved.
posted by Melismata at 7:09 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

If Google anti-aging initiative Calico had been run by women, I like to think they might have made menopause one of their primary focuses, since it's indisputably one of the most important diseases associated with aging as well as an apparent cause of aging -- and given that only a handful of mammal species out of thousands develop it in the first place, it's likely to be far more tractable than cancer or Alzheimer's.

And progress toward curing or preventing menopause would redound to the benefit of men anyway, since men seem to develop an attenuated and delayed version of it themselves.
posted by jamjam at 7:18 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can someone tell me how to get to Crone Island? The cyberspace place
posted by belladonna at 7:25 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Metafilter: I'm not looking for a date, I'm trying to culture fungi.

posted by BlueHorse at 7:47 PM on November 22, 2018 [19 favorites]

Is late 30s too young to experience some of what you ladies are talking about? I went to a bikini wax appointment last year and I remember scaring that poor lady when I sobbed uncontrollably about being Samantha (I found one white hair where I er, wasn’t expecting it).
posted by theappleonatree at 8:13 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

My friend Sasha Davies wrote this book! I backed her kickstarter last year and got five copies of her “Menopause, An Imperfect Guide“ and gave copies away to friends. It’s a quick read and under 60 pages. You can find a digital download at that link. She also has a strong background in cheese and fine foods (which is how I know her) and most recently ran a local restaurant and winery here. And for that, she also offers a digital download on “salads you want to eat” because her place was known for their yummy salads. Multi-talented!
posted by amanda at 8:58 PM on November 22, 2018 [10 favorites]

Don't forget the water retention! I'll go for days when I barely pee at all, and gain seven pounds. Then a few days later, I'll be peeing all day and the weight goes back down.

What!! Is that a thing?? Is that what's been happening to me?? My God, why on earth didn't anyone warn me. I've never been a water retainer and now I guess I am.

Thank you for solving a mystery for me, Melismata.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:18 PM on November 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

Is late 30s too young to experience some of what you ladies are talking about?

No, it's not too early. I didn't start real perimenopause until early 40s, but there my late 30s.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:23 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

And no one mentions that one day your eyelids droop and your once fine eyes are forever more a pair of tiny hooded slits. Yeah, and as it has been said, the chin hairs. And dribbling a little pee every time you cough, sneeze, or guffaw. Good times!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:08 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hmm. I’m 39 and I’ve lived with a lot of these symptoms for years. Bladder drip issues since I had two kids in 13 months, I’ve always had short cycles, I’m a furry furry beast-partly genes, partly many years of being underweight and getting downy, I’ve definitely been growing a goatee and a mustache for the last decade, husband teases me for my burning hands. I don’t know how I will be able to tell at this point lol. I did pull out a 5 in long hair that sprouted overnight halfway between my temple and eyebrow. Was that my sign?

I have thought a lot about HRT when the time comes. I’m really on the fence because I think I’d rather just get the hormones out and no more swings or cycle related anxiety. But so much anecdata seems to consist of “I resisted HRT forever and I wish I hadn’t.”

Nikaspark, it’s funny you should bring up your experience because one of the things that has realllllllly pushed me towards no HRT is seeing how estrogen effects trans women in the first couple of years. The idea of feeling like a fucking teenager again in my 40s just seems exhausting. My sample population is very small and all women who started later in life though so I’m making a ton of guesses.
posted by monkeyscouch at 10:23 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Every time I get together with a friend about the same age (early 50s) and bitch about menopause (or perimenopause), we end up saying, "Why does nobody WARN YOU about this shit?"

I'm lucky in that my big sister is 4 years older than me and lives nearby, so I was able to get an advanced preview of some of it. But she had 2 kids and I've never been pregnant, and things necessarily played out different in some ways.

For one thing, I developed endometrial hyperplasia as a result of the hormonal swings of perimenopause. EH gives you flooding, which is really a fantastic thing to go through and I recommend it to everyone if you have invested heavily in MaxiPads and don't mind being borderline anemic for months. I swear to god, I thought I was hemmorhaging. Anyway, EH is bad enough, but nearly 30% of women with EH develop uterine cancer. Happily, rather than a hysterectomy (the standard treatment) I got a Mirena, and that seems to have settled the problem.

In the meantime, it's hot flashes and weight gain and insomnia. The hot flashes and insomnia are much better if I cut back on alcohol and carbs, sigh. Which means I'll sleep poorly tonight, since I had a lot of wine and mashed potatoes and stuffing and pie today...
posted by suelac at 10:25 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Suelac, I just found out I have endometrial hyperplasia when my doctor emailed me biopsy results last night at 10:30pm and reading your comment was the most reassuring thing I’ve read since then. I am terrified of cancer (my dad died from it young) and I obviously couldn’t talk to my doctor today so I’ve been kind of lost in scary statistics since then. Thank you.

I’ve been leaning towards just getting a hysterectomy because I’m so scared I will just be waiting for cancer to show up. Thankfully, my partner had one in her early twenties so I know what to expect. This has been a great thread to follow after we stayed up late last night talking about menopause and my fear of hormones and how little anyone talks about it. Though that’s not quite true, everyone I know who has been through it or is going through it really seems to want to talk about their experiences, but for some reason it still seems like a big secret or taboo.

I got my period in the first grade. It’s given me excruciating cramps since then. Now I get wiped out before my period, just exhausted and weak, and I get very emotional and with irregular periods it’s been a difficult few years. I’ve been eager for menopause for a long time except that I already have hyperhidrosis so I’m not looking forward to dripping with sweat more than I already do. And my ladyfriend made sure to stress the trials she has with chin hairs.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:53 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Is late 30s too young to experience some of what you ladies are talking about?

Nope. I went through premature menopause at 16. I’m in my mid-40s now.

Grey hairs can happen at any age though. I had one “somewhere” in my early 30s, and it was the only outlier until just the last couple years. For the most part it just means there’s a damaged follicle that forgot how to do pigment.

I personally prefer HRT over no HRT, although I took birth control for about 20 years until finally switching to PremPro. I guess the main frustrating thing is that you’d think there would have been advances in treating women with hormonal irregularities in the last 25 years, but there haven’t been. It was Pill or PremPro back then, it’s Pill or PremPro now.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:25 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fuck, I've been waiting for this thread for 2 years. I was still having periods but I couldn't feel cold. Travelled around Tassie at 7 degrees celcius in a singlet wondering why everyone else was rugged up and then left something like a murder scene in a backpackers with and unexpected and super heavy period. Due to fibroids, I had a hysterectomy 3 months later and then gained 25kg (50 pounds) in a year. On top of that, how does menopause affect aspergers?
posted by b33j at 1:56 AM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am 48 and have been experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms for a year or so. I started to develop fibroids about 10 years ago. In the last two years my cycle has been between 15 and 45 days and is usually so heavy the first day I just don't sleep because I bleed so heavily. In four days I will have a hysterectomy because the tumors have grown to the size of a basketball according to my OB-Gyn. He actually shouted "oh my god" the first time he palpated my stomach. I have read so many things about what will happen. I can't decide whether to get rid of my ovaries or not. Will it be easier or not? I don't know. Immediate menopause or a slowish slide, just not sure. I've been full on shaving my face for the past year and a half. My hair is getting thin on top and I am afraid I will look like Ben Franklin in a few years. These are all the things I have been thinking about in the past few weeks.

Oh also, I told a friend of mine who is in her 20s that I was getting a hysterectomy and she asked me if I would still get my period.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 3:11 AM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, can any UK MeFites comment on why the British call it "the menopause"?

I'll trade you, if you can explain to my why the Americans refer to being "in the hospital" rather than "in hospital". Language difference.
posted by penguin pie at 3:26 AM on November 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

My wife (approaching 50) has been talking about this for a good while. She's lucky enough to have older sisters to compare experiences with, but gets quite agitated about the fact that these issues are talked about so little. Mood swings her ass - it's anxiety she's experiencing, and she feels that calling it mood swings is typically reductive.
posted by Myeral at 3:27 AM on November 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm 51 and stopped taking hormonal BC a year ago, and my periods stopped at once, so who knows how much earlier I was entering menopause? I'd say my symptoms are pretty mild, compared to what other women share with me. I have 3-4 nights per month where I wake up at 3:30am and can't go back to sleep. My hot flashes aren't so much "flashes" as "swells", where my body temperature goes up to an uncomfortable level and stays up for a while, and I can't do anything to get cool. But it's not drenching sweats, just flushed cheeks and discomfort. And that comes and goes. I experience the hot flashes for a few weeks and then nothing for a couple months.

I have noticed more hairs growing on my chin (I already had 2-3 in regular residence since my 30s). And I feel like my body shape has been settling, with weight gain around my middle. Also the sudden appearance of a double chin. Where did that come from? I experience more joint pain, particularly in my hips, and I feel like my flexibility has declined significantly.

For what it's worth, I make a point of telling people at the office that I'm menopausal and hence experiencing discomfort. I feel a kind of duty to make it known that this is a thing women experience, and put a face to it and normalise it.
posted by amusebuche at 3:36 AM on November 23, 2018 [8 favorites]

Ugggggh, it's going to be so bad when I hit it, because everyone thinks I'm like 10 years younger than I am, at least, and I'm in tech and surrounded by infants who I swear to god are still going through puberty, and I'll be all beardy and sweaty and they'll be like "are you DYING what are women this is wrong and weird".

I've already got enough chin hair to where if I kept it going, I'd have proper racist-as-fuck Fu Manchu beardiness. Now the rest of my life is going to be even more of a disaster.
posted by Katemonkey at 5:02 AM on November 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Related: I recently stopped wearing makeup because of a bad case of (you guessed it) dry eye. I am ... probably not going to go back to it.

I can tell that men's eyes glance off me now in a way they didn't before, and this used to scare me back into wearing makeup, mostly because being invisible at work is a good way to become invisible on the payroll as well.

As I contemplate retirement, though, invisibility is a lot less scary. It's funny how presentation ties so strongly into wage-labor marketability, at least in my mind (and I suspect I'm not alone).
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:40 AM on November 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

The idea of feeling like a fucking teenager again in my 40s just seems exhausting. My sample population is very small and all women who started later in life though so I’m making a ton of guesses.

Trans women transitioning after puberty typically take estrogen at very high levels in order to “kickstart” a second puberty. Cis women can take WAY less because y’all have had factories making estrogen for decades and don’t have to account for the testosterone factories.

Short form: I don’t think what trans women experience with HRT can be directly compared to what cis women experience?

(Also FWIW I’m non-binary and I’m using “woman” in my comments as way to not have to go into lengthy caveats of the gendered nuances and to any other non-binary folks reading this I want you to know that I see you)
posted by nikaspark at 5:47 AM on November 23, 2018 [8 favorites]

I just posted to Ask about what people would like to see in a podcast on this (encylopedia-sized) subject. Contribute if you like!
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:28 AM on November 23, 2018 [8 favorites]

The more I read this thread the more I think there could be *multiple* books about menopause. Or with characters who experience menopause. Like a graphic novel with a woman who, in addition to many other characteristics, proudly sports a goatee.
posted by bunderful at 6:33 AM on November 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Argh, it me! It me! My periods - which were 35 days apart when I was younger and then 28-30 days apart when I was having my kids - have, in the last year, gotten much closer together (like, 24 days) and much, much heavier and clottier. I’ve never had particularly heavy periods so it’s all manageable but it’s definitely a big change for me. Add the middle of the night hot “swells” (good term, amusebuche), the increase in prickly chin hairs (though I’ve had one for ~15 years, I now have several), and I’m pretty sure this is the beginning of peri-menopause for me. But when I asked my doctor about it last year, she said it wasn’t — that it was just normal, post-kids changes. I didn’t really believe her then and I definitely don’t believe her now. Sure, I’ll probably have periods for another several years (I’m 41), but if this isn’t my body’s reproductive system starting to wind down, I don’t know what it is.
posted by devinemissk at 7:10 AM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

a bad case of (you guessed it) dry eye

not to be all weird medical evangelist but if punctal plugs are an option for you, you might want to give them a try? i just got them and they have legit changed my life.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:25 AM on November 23, 2018

Yeah the facial hair and the hot flashes and the memory and the digestive weirdness and the disappearing waistline despite being a serious gym user - got it all. Fully menopausal with a family history that precludes hormones = good times. I talk about it, particularly around people who are not women of a certain age because we've got to normalize this stuff. I want it to be less of a surprise to my kids in their 20s than it was to me given a mother who went through it overnight thanks to chemo and grandmothers with hysterectomies and a culture of not talking about that stuff. Red wine makes it all worse sadly and sleep is a crapshoot but I am liking being without fucks to give about a lot of stuff so there's that.
posted by leslies at 8:36 AM on November 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Suelac, I just found out I have endometrial hyperplasia when my doctor emailed me biopsy results last night at 10:30pm and reading your comment was the most reassuring thing I’ve read since then.

I'm so glad. To go a little deeper into this issue: after the biopsy, I got a warning from Kaiser saying, "You're going to get a call from Oncology, don't freak out." The oncologist, a very nice guy, basically said he didn't really know why I had EH because it usually presents in younger and fatter women. But his theory was that perimenopause and its fluctuating hormone levels had brought it on, and maybe the progesterone provided by the Mirena would even it out.

You can now get a hysterectomy laprascopically, and the recovery period is much shorter, but I had just been rehired at my job, and I had no sick or vacation leave at all. So I went with the Mirena, and aside from the pain of getting it installed, it's been fine. After a year or so, we figured I probably was in full-on menopause, and an FSH test confirmed that.
posted by suelac at 9:10 AM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Regarding dry eye my eye doctor recommended a hot compress over your eyes for 10 minutes and then gently massage your upper and lower eyelids. Apparently there are oil glands there which can get clogged and tears don't keep your eyes moist without this oil. You will know that you are expressing the oil glands because you will notice your vision become somewhat blurry. I did this and it was amazing my eyes have not felt that good in ages.
posted by supermedusa at 9:18 AM on November 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

Thank you to everyone who mentioned the dry eye thing. I've had a problem with dry eyes for a couple of years now, and for some reason it didn't even occur to me that it could be related to menopause. I figured it was allergy-related, since I've had allergies all my life. I talked to my doctor about it - I inquired about the possibility of prescription-strength eye drops - and she said there isn't really such a thing available. She recommended trying several different brands of over-the-counter eye drops.

So I've been using eye drops daily to deal with it. Back in the days when I ate a carb-heavy diet, I was using eye drops six or seven times a day. This year, after going low-carb, I only need to use them once a day, and I found a brand that worked better for me than the rest (Systane). But it still bugs me that I have to use them every single day, and they don't make the problem go away; they just lessen the symptoms.

I'm a professional freelance writer who works remotely, so finding a good way to deal with this problem is especially crucial for me because I rely on my vision to make a living. I had never heard of punctal plugs before, and my doctor has never mentioned it to me either. I'm going to ask her about it at my next visit.

In the meantime I'm going to try the hot compress method mentioned by supermedusa, as that would fit in perfectly with my restorative yoga practice - I can simply place the hot compress over my eyes while I'm in legs-up-the-wall pose.
posted by velvet winter at 12:23 PM on November 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I never realized I had dry eye since the primary symptom was watering (and burning and stinging) but I randomly mentioned it to my 50something eye doc!! Now I just just blame everything on perimenopause...
posted by supermedusa at 1:32 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

One question I've had for years: for those of you who have gone through the change, would you undo it and go back if given the chance? Or have you found it's better on the other side?
posted by dilettante at 3:38 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh man, this thread is so helpful. I'm early 40s, but my mom had a hysterectomy at 40 for fibroids so I have no idea what to expect. (Mom's advice: "Get a hysterectomy. It seems so much easier.") Meanwhile, my physician, whom I otherwise really like, flat-out laughed at me when I asked her if my increasing difficulty with insomnia and occasional nights (maybe every other month or so) when I wake up drenched were signs of perimenopause. But... maybe they are?

Also, I'd love advice for managing under-chin hairs without tons of ingrowns. I basically have three permanent scars under my chin from digging out ingrown hairs.
posted by TwoStride at 4:11 PM on November 23, 2018

Nikaspark, I'm really glad to hear your input. Dilettante, that's a difficult question. I hate being "invisible' in regular culture, but professionally, being an old lady is almost like being a man. People stop staring at your breasts and start taking you seriously. [I'm sad that this is true]. TwoStride, Yes! ingrown hairs are horrible! I have no solution except gentle plucking.
posted by acrasis at 4:29 PM on November 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I really hope someone writes this book.
I'm 52, and thought earlier this year that things were changing, but now I'm not so sure. I didn't have my period from January until the end of June (the day I had shoulder surgery it decided to show up!) and then not until August and September, and nothing since. However, this isn't all that unusual for me, as I've always been irregular except on birth control.
I was experiencing some hot "flushes", but it felt more like an intense blush than true heat, and I haven't had that in several months either.
Chin hairs, oh boy, I have several! As well as a couple I have to keep an eye out for on my cheek too. I don't shave my chin because then I do get ingrowns, but I do shave my face and 'stache.
Sex..I just don't crave it anymore. Which is a bit of a struggle for me, as I used to have a high sex drive. I do have some dryness that of course makes me not want to bother, so there's that. My mother told me she lost her desire for sex, but that the desire does come back, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Thank you so much for this thread. I actually feel better now!
posted by annieb at 5:09 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Through to the other side at this point - would I go back? nah - don't miss having periods, still have hot flashes - actually they're worse now but otherwise it's ok. Ingrown hairs - shave - easier than plucking given how many I have.
posted by leslies at 6:35 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

On man, I did a dance around a fire when I figured out I was menopausal. Happy day, happy day. Oh man, it can be terrible getting through it, but for me, it was not so bad. My horrible pms disappeared, and that was worth the six months of kinda terrifying periods. I still sometimes get a hot flash, but I live in texas, the odds are I'm already sweating. I'm of hobbit descent, so I've always been hairy, but post menopause, without daily grooming, I would have a full beard, I swear.

But it's so lovely on the other side, y'all. No more periods. Sure, you'll want to invest in some panty liners, and moisturizer for skin and hair and possible nether bits. And vitamins designed for menopausal women have been a godsend for me.

I did not do HRT, so I can't speak to it. But someone asked if I'd want to go back to pre menopause stage, and I swear, I would cut someone who made that a possibility. I love being done with reproduction.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:03 PM on November 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

On the whole, dilettante, I prefer life post-menopause. I'm not on HRT and stopped using the hormone vaginal cream, and as I said I don't have too many hot flashes any more (once in a blue moon). The thing I like best, to be honest, is that I can wear any color underpants I like and I can buy nice ones and keep them until they wear out, instead of giving up once the stains got too bad. I always spotted, and there was no tampon or pad made that could prevent leakage.

The second thing is that now that it has been some years, I no longer wake up certain I have forgotten to take my birth control pill, or that my IUD has slipped out of position, or that my diaphragm didn't work.

The invisibility set in long before perimenopause and had relatively little to do with fertility.
posted by Peach at 8:14 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

I’m in surgical menopause at 39 after a hysterectomy/oopherectomy I spent ten years begging for. No more exploding ovarian cysts, no more PMDD, no more endometriosis, a huge decrease in migraines, the peace of mind I won’t get diagnosed with ovarian cancer, as my maternal grandmother did when she was my age. Hot flashes and having to stop using all my Drunk Elephant products because my skin is oily AF now are the small prices I pay for those gifts. Well, losing the DE products was kind of an expensive price to pay, but even so, I wouldn’t go back for anything. I like my body much more now that an entire system isn’t actively causing me harm.
posted by Ruki at 11:32 AM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

I inquired about the possibility of prescription-strength eye drops - and she said there isn't really such a thing available

What? No, your doctor is very wrong. That's literally what Restasis is. I mean, it's horrifyingly expensive but it really works.

I was told by my eye doctors to use Systane Balance at night and Systane Ultra in the daytime for my moderate dry eye. I don't even mind the shilling for one brand since it works quite well.

There are also dry eye specialists out there if that's something y'all find yourself in need of.

I can't comment on the peri/menopause stuff but dry eye? There are options.
posted by librarylis at 3:16 PM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another menopause-related issue for me is that the hot flashes have caused both insomnia and... jock itch. D:

So I have a system: don't drink later in the evening, use layers of sheets/blankets instead of one fat comforter, have a fan available for warm seasons, and switch out the cotton pyjamas for bamboo, which is wicking. Oh, and invest in antifungal sprays and powders, sigh.

this getting older thing kind of sucks.
posted by suelac at 7:14 PM on November 24, 2018

your doctor is very wrong. That's literally what Restasis is. I mean, it's horrifyingly expensive but it really works.

Thank you. I will talk to her about it. The side effects sound kind of off-putting, but as a professional writer I have to do whatever's necessary to properly care for my vision. As for the expense...I have no clue if that's something Medicaid would pay for, but it can't hurt to ask, at least. If it's covered I will certainly try it. And the hot compress method hasn't worked for me so far, so I'll stick with Systane until my next appointment, at least.
posted by velvet winter at 12:51 AM on November 25, 2018

If anyone is still reading, I've just come across an equally informative / reassuring article by Alyson Walsh over at the That's Not My Age blog regarding her experiences with The Menopause. The comments include a couple of book recommendations that I'm definitely going to track down. (Perhaps we should join forces with her readers and form some sort of mega Meno Squad…)

I'm 49, turning 50 in February, and this month marks almost exactly a year without periods. Physically, I've got off lightly -- some thickening around the middle, a tendency towards lethargy, but no flashes, night-sweats, dryness, or chin hairs to speak of (yet). But JFC, I wish I'd known about the crippling lack of self-confidence (particularly at work), depression and anger, no, RAGE that would (and still does) descend like a fog at inconvenient times. And my noted ability to focus? Pffft. I have the attention span of a … oh, would you look at that?

It took me a surprisingly long time to connect my lack of confidence and self-belief with what was happening to my body. It was definitely a relief to pin-point a cause (either that, or I am actually going crazy), and despite fearing that my colleagues would notice and, you know, toss the remnants of my pathetic career onto the pyre of ignobility, I'm still receiving job offers and plaudits, so -- fingers-crossed -- perhaps it's not as noticeable as I'd feared.

Regardless, strength and respect to all of you. It's going to be okay.
posted by tuckshopdilettante at 8:10 AM on November 25, 2018 [7 favorites]

have 3-4 nights per month where I wake up at 3:30am and can't go back to sleep. My hot flashes aren't so much "flashes" as "swells", where my body temperature goes up to an uncomfortable level and stays up for a while, and I can't do anything to get cool. But it's not drenching sweats, just flushed cheeks and discomfort. And that comes and goes.

So...that's what that is? I never thought that they were hot flashes because I wasn't sweating. No lie, I keep a tank top under my pillow to quietly change into at 3:30am. I just thought I was weird. THANK YOU!

This thread is gold.
posted by kimberussell at 8:35 AM on November 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm 42, and have always been a late bloomer physically (look young, late-ish first period, got my molars late as a kid, gynecologist once said during a colposcopy that I have "the cervix of an 18 year old" etc) so I don't think I'm approaching perimenopause yet... then again, I am apparently getting my period a week early this month after an entire lifetime of light, regular 28-30-day cycles. And I'm suddenly getting pimples? The pimples thing could be overuse of moisturizers thanks to a skincare box subscription, but it's still very unusual for me. I thought I was leaking urine a bit but I think it's actually that I sweat a lot down there; wearing pantyliners didn't capture anything.

Related: anyone have recommendations for cotton or otherwise breathable underwear that doesn't show pantylines on someone with a squishy, ample butt? I like laser-cut underwear for this, but the stuff I've worn is the opposite of breathable and contributes to my sweating/dampness problem. Thongs are 100% out.

I'm not looking forward to menopause. I have lived a very charmed life w/r/t physical symptoms of womanhood and I'm not well-equipped emotionally to handle otherwise.
posted by misskaz at 11:27 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

50 here and have no idea if I'm through it or not (implant = no periods), started having perimenopause symptoms around 46. Lots of this sounds very reassuringly familiar. Internal thermostat failure is the most difficult to deal with, along with horribly disrupted sleep, but again in common with others I find backing off the carbs helps. I had no idea the eye thing might be related, so TIL...

I too talk openly about this in the office and elsewhere, as undramatically as if I'm discussing a head cold, because it's just... normal life. Stuff happens.

I too asked my doc how I would tell when it's over, because no periods, and got a very different response to most here - she just shrugged and told me there isn't any very reliable one-shot test. Given that my symptoms seem to be settling I guess I'll just delay getting a replacement implant when this one runs out next year, and see what happens....

Solidarity and love to the Crones.
posted by Ilira at 2:39 PM on November 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

Personally, I would rather not talk about stuff like this, and I find it beyond irritating that people, mostly doctors and other women, want to tell me about my health and what I'm experiencing now that I look old. Because thats not necessarily my experience. My experiences may be different. And my life is private. Please don't "confide" in me just because I look a certain age. Dont assume my body is doing the same things yours is, because we are both women with grey hair. I dont want you to tell me, "well maybe its not happening now, but it will, just wait!" I feel like this is a horrible second round of other women telling me how I should feel and think, just after I finally quit having them tell me how I should hurry up and get pregnant because I was really going to want kids when the clock started ticking (never happened).

A book, however, would be fine. Then, if I ever did have a question sometime, I could look it up.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 4:36 PM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was surprised to learn as a result of this discussion that menopause can cause joint and muscle pain. I've had painful hips for a few years - much worse around my period but not low back pain or the pain up and down my legs which has been part of the period package for much longer - and lately I have pain in my hands. It's intermittent - some days very noticeable, some days it vanishes completely - the hand pain is not related to the periods. Now I'm wondering ...
posted by bunderful at 5:37 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I looked up Rogaine. I'd be interested in anybody's personal experiences with it. From their FAQ:
23. . . . Unwanted hair growth has been reported on the face and other parts of the body with ROGAINE® use. The unwanted hair growth may be cause by the transfer of Women’s ROGAINE® product to areas other than the scalp, or by absorption into the circulatory system of low levels of active ingredient . . .

37. . . . ROGAINE® products stimulate hair follicles to shift from the resting phase to the growth phase. As part of this process, it is not uncommon to see a temporary increase in shedding during the first 2 weeks using ROGAINE® products. This occurs in some people when the hair follicles shift into the growth phase and older hairs are shed to make way for new actively growing hairs. It is a bit like losing baby teeth to make room for adult teeth.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:29 AM on November 26, 2018

As for the expense...I have no clue if that's something Medicaid would pay for, but it can't hurt to ask, at least. If it's covered I will certainly try it.

my extremely expensive cadillac of an insurance plan denied me coverage for it twice but on the third try they gave in and are now covering a second 6mo period of it. without coverage it's about $500 or so, which is basically impossible for anyone ever. i haven't experienced any side effects afaik but it hasn't made as much difference as the plugs do.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:58 PM on November 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

On BBC1 tonight - The Truth About The Menopause with Mariella Frostrup.
posted by penguin pie at 2:48 PM on November 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

I am so, so grateful for this discussion, since I'm learning a lot and also finding out that I'm not totally alone! Perimenopause kicked in a little more than two years ago -- it felt like a switch had just been flipped, but I couldn't figure out what was going on. [Interesting that spellcheck doesn't even seem to know the word and has helpfully underlined it for me in red.] For me, the most disturbing thing was that I suddenly smelled different to myself. It was awful; I felt as if my own body had been swapped for some stranger's body in the night, and this new one was weird and uncomfortable and worst of all, smelled like somebody else. Mercifully, that's faded away. The other deeply disturbing thing (and this is probably waaaaaaay TMI but I'm going to tell it here because it's probable that this information might be of use to someone) is that my vaginal flora kept going out of whack and I found myself constantly battling a low-grade case of vaginosis. Vaginosis is awful -- it's physically uncomfortable, but it's also psychologically uncomfortable. Turns out that it's common in perimenopausal women, but that apparently it will stop when the hormone oscillations stop, and also when menstruation stops (apparently, it's particularly common for vaginal ph to go awry during/just after one's period). Vaginas are supposed to be quite acidic, and testing with litmus strips revealed that I was constantly going way too base, which is a great way to have things go wrong. I was very resistant to going the medical route, since past experience with antibiotics has taught me that one can often create more problems than one solves. I tried everything, including going full hippy on it with homemade borax and cocoa butter suppositories. No dice (though the cocoa butter made me smell like a chocolate bar, which was kind of interesting, I guess). Finally, my gynecologist tipped me off to a solution: despite having been told all my life never, ever to douche, she said to try douching with a 50%/50% combination of Betadine and water. Do it in the tub or the shower, because Betadine has iodine in it and it's messy and stains fabrics. The first time I did it, I nearly wept for joy because it solved the problem IMMEDIATELY. I don't now have to do it very often, but works every single time.

Anyway, I would totally buy a book like the one y'all are talking about. And copies for my friends!
posted by pleasant_confusion at 10:30 AM on November 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

I am glad the article talks about injuries and the extra time to heal from things. I will be sharing the article with my sisters-in-law.

Started with the first symptoms around age 47: Hot flashes, weird periods, moodiness, and muscle twitches. The muscle twitches were mostly in my legs but could be anywhere and were constant at times and very distracting and annoying.

I started on a supplement that helped immediately with all of the symptoms especially the muscle twitches... Enzymatic Therapy AM/PM PeriMenopause Formula. I got it at Whole Foods first asking a friend who worked there for recommendations. Now order it from Amazon. I have been taking it now for six years.
posted by narancia at 7:57 AM on November 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

What the FUCK. All the symptoms ALL OF THEM are random things that have been popping up for me and I'm so damn mad nobody told me. Dry eyes? Jock itch? Holy crap THE MOODS. Has anybody done an ask me yet? I'm about to do an absolute shopping spree based on products you all have recommended.

Thank you so much for speaking up, truly.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:05 AM on December 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

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