Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Menopause Frustration and Finding Relief

I have been frustrated with menopause for a while. Just thinking about it can bring on a hot flash.

Turning 50 was an exciting time and I still enjoy being in the club. The ongoing hormonal changes my body is experiencing not so much. 

I will be talking very candidly about my experience with hormone changes and my body. This is not meant to offend anyone. Going through the change is a subject many are afraid to discuss out of embarrassment, fear, or the belief it should be hush-hushWe have come too far to continue this way of thinking. Health involves discussing all things relating to the human body and aging.

Hormone Challenges

I have been frantically researching hormone imbalance for a few years now. I have tried supplementation, herbals, transdermal creams, and natural moisturizers attempting to restore balance in my body. 

I am very aware of foods that help with hormone imbalance and eat my share of raw pumpkin seeds and watermelon. I also exercise consistently which is another way to help with the stresses of hormone imbalance.

Some women may sail right through without a hitch in the get along, but not this girl. Through research, I have discovered I'm not alone and there are plenty of women suffering from menopause symptoms. 

I began experiencing night sweats years ago, which I easily managed with a transdermal OTC progesterone cream. That seemed to be the biggest drag during my peri-menopausal time. However and for a few years, my periods took on a life of their own. Everything became unpredictable. I didn't know from one month to the next if I was in full menopause. 

According to my doctor, not having a cycle for one year would be the indicator of being in true menopause. I enjoy my gynecologist and have to say she is easy to talk to. I respect her opinion and am able to share my desire to go through this process as naturally as possible. The thing about most western medicine doctors is the non-support of bio-identical hormones. Also, they're generally not covered by insurance. So be prepared for such roadblocks. Don't be afraid to be yourself and cover every concern with your doctor.

Let's Talk About Menopause

Menopause has been a thief of my womanhood. It has plagued me with sleepless nights, hot flashes, frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), and the worst part - a broken vagina. My frustration has become a motivation to work very hard at making the best decisions for me and my body. 

I'm sure many women can relate to what I am sharing. Hopefully, this Blog will stimulate comments so we can all support and share what has worked or not worked. We can no longer hide our adverse menopause symptoms. As women, it's important to be brave, embrace who we are, what we're going through, and create a voice for answers. 

Menopause Sucks

The dreaded hot flash comes at all hours of the day and night. For some reason, I'm bothered most at night. It's so frustrating not to be able to get a full night's sleep. This alone can really put me on edge. I have discovered the best remedy is sleeping under a light sheet with one leg covered and one leg exposed. I also keep the ceiling fan going which seems to help. 

Enjoying a glass of wine in the evening will trigger a hot flash. It will continue to haunt me during sleep time with dreaded night sweats. I have found it's important to stay away from the triggers. 

What has seemed to help my menopause symptoms is Maca Root, recommended by my gynecologist. Maca is an herbal I mix in a green shake each day. Before using maca root, I put in the necessary research of the pros and cons and decided to give it a go. 

What I'm sharing has worked and not worked for me. It's important for each woman to be her own health care advocate. You should not try any supplement without reviewing clinical research and solid evidence to support health claims. Don't take my word as gospel. My body is different than yours and may respond differently to herbs like maca root. My share is to inform and motivate you to start your own journey of research.  

Other Menopause Symptoms

Moving on to other adverse menopause symptoms: decreased sexual sensitivity, increased bladder discomfort, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and vaginal dryness (what I like to call the broken ya-ya).  Talk about the worst of the worst and are you kidding me?! This has got to be the most unfair situation ever as sex is a very important part of a healthy marital relationship. 

As women, it's important to feel confident about our bodies and our abilities. We shouldn't feel guarded about sex because our minds get so focused on things like: will I orgasm? am I too dry? will it hurt too much? what's he thinking? The list is really endless. How can we be in the moment when all that mental noise is going on? 

Personally, I refuse to be a woman on the edge with the inability to get over the fence and I'm referring to orgasm here. I enjoy this part of my married life and research focused on this topic has been very thorough. I have discovered a new vaginal suppository containing coconut oil and vitamin E. This magic stuff works better than most of the OTC products out there. I use ½ suppository daily which keeps me naturally moisturized for the day and into the evening. 

My goal is to prevent vaginal atrophy and yes this is what occurs during menopause. In laymen's terms, the vagina starts shrinking and drying up like a prune. The 'do not disturb' sign has clearly landed. I refuse to allow any such nonsense to happen and am fighting for my sexual right as a woman and wife.

Decreased sensitivity during sex can also occur as the body no longer carries adequate blood supply to the vaginal tissue and clitoris. Research sent me to L-arginine supplementation which is an amino acid naturally occurring in your body. Studies have shown L-arginine to help with blood supply and flow to the sex organs. Well, this turned out to be a huge waste of my time. I can be prone to cold sores and updated research lead me to discover L-arginine stimulates the virus causing cold sores. I tossed the bottle in the trash and never looked back. Thank goodness I also keep a supply of Lysine, an immunity boosting amino acid that works to prevent cold sores. I increased the dose to counteract the negative side effects of L-arginine.   

Menopause and UTIs

Another unfortunate menopause-related problem that occurs with me has been severe bouts of urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms. The discomfort can wake me in the middle of the night and cause me to curl up in a fetal position. I have a low-dose antibiotic on standby when these events occur and OTC Cystex.

I found a heating pad also helps along with OTC pain relievers. I also began a protocol of increased water intake and supplement with D-Mannose suggested by my primary care physician. It appears to be helping.

I'm very in tune with my body and can feel a UTI early onset. So, typically I do catch it early and am able to not lose too much time or days off work. The night may suck getting the symptoms calmed down, but once manageable, I can function pretty well at work and in general. 

Menopause and Hormone Replacement Therapy

I have also looked into HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and currently researching bio-identical hormones. Bio-identicals are hormones closely related to our own body production and administered transdermally. I have been using bio-identicals for quite some time now and have experienced significant relief.

I have decided not to take any systemic estrogen by mouth in order to minimize cancer risk. I don't want the hormone to metabolize directly through my liver and into my bloodstream. The incidence of cancer is greater with such therapy so this door is forever closed for me. 

I am also trying a vaginal insert pill of very low-dose estrogen. This is localized to the vaginal tissues and helps plump up and restore natural vaginal lubrication and reduce the incidence of UTIs. I even had doubts and fears regarding cancer with the vaginal insert. After a discussion with both western medicine and natural path doctors, I felt confident to move forward with the less messy vaginal pill estrogen insert.  

Online research also reduced my fears, and I am willing to give it a try for a few months. I'm hoping for a positive outcome.  I will need to report back with my personal findings. I do welcome feedback from women, or husbands whose wives are currently using vaginal insert low estrogen and how it has been helpful or not. 

Menopause Support

I have had many discussions with women going through menopause which is helpful and supportive. It can feel like such a desperate and frustrating time not knowing the best course of action to take. It feels scary to possibly subject ourselves to cancer or other diseases in the process of discovery. 

It can seem unfair very few clinical studies on menopause and women’s dysfunction have been conducted. Further research would provide more options, and allow women to feel more confident in methods to improve menopause symptoms. 

I hope my personal share of the subject has been helpful. You are not alone in your struggle and frustration. Keep up the research and find what works best for you and your body.

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  1. Hey Darla, AWESOME post, much needed. Shared it with Carol, my wife who is 52 and right there with you. It is a tough thing to deal with, but if you and Don are communicating well, it makes a huge difference. Would love to talk to you about guest blogging on my site as my audience could benefit from your sharing! Talk soon, Warmly, Rick xxoo

  2. Thanks for your comment and glad to hear you and your wife have supportive communication on the subject. It really helps. Stay Healthy


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