Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Year of Change

So this post is going to talk about periods.  If you're not comfortable with that, you should probably just skip it.  Don't say I didn't warn you! ;) 

November of last year was when everything started to change (reproductively speaking).  This time last year my husband and I had pretty much lost hope that we were going to be able to get pregnant without help.  We'd been trying to conceive for long enough that if it was going to happen, it probably would have.  During that whole time I didn't even have a single late period, that is until last November.  I've always had 28 day cycles so when I hit 29 days I thought something might be up.  I told hubs.  He got excited.  I was scared and a little bit excited.  We got pregnancy tests, the good ones, and waited until the next morning to test.  Hubs got up early with me and I tested.  After the longest three minutes of my life I looked at it.  Negative.  He was still hopeful that it was just too early.  I knew that if a test wasn't positive by 16 days past ovulation that it wasn't going to turn positive or if it did it probably wasn't a viable pregnancy anyway.  The next morning there was still no period so I tested again, even though I knew what the result would be.  Negative, as expected.  I went back to bed and we laid there and cried.  I think that was the day that TTC broke us.  I had to wait two more days before my period finally arrived, and arrive it did, the day hubs and I were hosting Thanksgiving dinner for approximately 15 people.  To top it off, it was a very "memorable" period, and I'm a person who has had really bad periods for my entire life.  

So not only was I not pregnant that cycle, it soon became apparent that my textbook 28 day cycles were a thing of the past.  My periods were changing, in duration, in intensity, and in flow.  None for the better.  My regular OB/GYN wasn't the slightest bit concerned because, while abnormal for me, everything was still in the range of normal.  We were referred to the RE who was also unconcerned.  So I decided that if they weren't worried about anything I shouldn't be either.  We went through all of the testing, got shit results, and my periods continued to be inconsistent and weird.  They are still weird and heavy, and near crippling cramps a year later.  Oh, and hot flashes, can't forget those.  The solution seems to be to put me back on birth control, but that's not an option that I'm really open to exploring because I'm one of those people who didn't do well on birth control.  At this point I don't know what's up.  I know that something isn't right but I don't know what to say to make them take me seriously.  My fear is that this is the beginning of peri-menopause.  Is that illogical or are my concerns founded?  All of my female relatives had hysterectomies in their mid 30s so I don't even know what my family's average age for menopause is.  If anybody reading has gone though/is going through peri-menopause/menopause I would love to hear your two cents.  (I should mention that given my test results, early menopause is expected, I just didn't expect it this soon.)

A lot has changed since last Thanksgiving.  At this point I'm just going with the flow and taking things on as they come up.  Mercifully I will not have to deal with my period this Thanksgiving.  As an added bonus I should be in the clear for Christmas too.  There's not really a point to this post, I've just been thinking a lot about how last Thanksgiving was when it started to sink in that kids probably weren't in the cards for us, and how this Thanksgiving we're firmly there.  Thanks for sticking with me through this less than pleasant conversation about my biological functions.


  1. These biological functions of ours are shared by 50% of the population, and yet we still whisper about them behind closed doors. It infuriates me, but I whisper as quietly as anyone. Except I won't here.

    I remember at my first consultation with my fertility specialist. My periods had been regular, but had just stretched by a day or so in the last two months. "I don't like the sound of that," he said. I was in the risky age group by then - having just turned 40 a few days earlier. I was charting my cycles at the time, and I could still predict when my period was going to start, and I was clearly ovulating. However, over the next few years, my periods became more and more unpredictable. I remember going on a trip to Spain five years later, and being overjoyed (by that time I knew I couldn't conceive) that my cycle was a cooperative seven weeks. But then it settled back into a regular 28-30 day pattern for quite a few years. What did change was that my periods, which had always been acceptably average or even light, became incredibly heavy, with all the disadvantages that entails. I endured this for several years, and only this year finally sought serious help, discovered that fibroids were causing me many problems, and had the hysterectomy.

    I started getting hot flushes (flashes in North America-speak I think) a few years ago - so I was well into peri-menopause by then I think - though they truly went berserk after my surgery (even though my ovaries were retained). I'm now on HRT and the hot flushes have abated - I still get a few a day, but they are so much more manageable now.

    Oh, and the other peri-menopause symptom? Changes in my body shape set in in my mid-40s, much to my disgust. Losing weight now is soooo much harder. Though hopefully with the boost in estrogen with the HRT, I will now be able to lose some!

    My friend, a few years younger, had such heavy periods all her life that she was anemic, got a mirena coil (an IUD with slow-release progesterone) inserted, even though she didn't need it for contraception. She swears by it.

    I don't know if any of this will help, but there are simple blood tests (and I think even pee-on-a-stick tests) that can tell you if you are peri-menopausal, and at what stage. It does sound as if you may be, especially if your female relatives have, for whatever reasons, needed hysterectomies in their mid-30s. I certainly would push for your doctor to do an assessment, because that way you might have other treatment options open for you. I feel strongly that we shouldn't have to go through these weird, painful, and ridiculously heavy periods that hamper our lives, when there are in fact options. I hate too that we have to brace ourselves to advocate for better health, in an area that affects 1 in 2 people. So I wish you luck.

  2. Thank you so much for responding in such detail. I too don't know why we whisper about this either. It's a completely normal and natural experience yet people are very hush-hush about it.

    As far as ovulation goes, I think I'm still ovulating regularly, or at least my body is trying to ovulate. I will say that there are certain symptoms (e.g., sore breasts) that I used to always get after ovulation that now I get only periodically now. I'm not charting anymore so I can't say for sure.

    I didn't even think about the body changes. I've always been a thin(ish) woman who has naturally had a flat stomach and has never had to try to lose weight. Over the past two years or so I've noticed that, despite regular exercise and weight lifting, I'm starting to carry weight in my stomach and on my hips as well as not being able to lose weight to save my life. So maybe this is all related.

    The hot flashes are inconsistent, sometimes having two or three in the same day or worse having one that lasts two or three hours, and sometimes not having one for weeks.

    The increased flow is worrisome for me, but the clots really freak me out. I've always had really heavy periods and clots but now the flow is out of control and the clots are huge. Thankfully I've managed to not have a public accident yet, but I fear it will happen at some point. I do always pack a change of clothes in my work bag when I'm on my period though. At this point I'm willing to explore all options to get this under control. I'd prefer something long term, but at this point anything would be beneficial.

    I do need to schedule my annual gyn appointment and I will definitely inquire about a test battery. I know that my FSH was more consistent with a woman 10 years older than I am (I'm 33) in March of this year and I'm sure that hasn't improved. I'm just worried that because of my age I won't be taken seriously and will be told that it's all in my head. I realize it isn't the norm for someone in her early 30s to complain of these symptoms, but it doesn't mean the symptoms aren't there. I guess I fully expected early menopause, I just didn't expect it this early.

  3. Heavy bleeding and clots are usual symptoms of fibroids. The anti-clotting factors cannot handle the amount of bleeding that's why the increased amount of clots are forming. It would be great if the GYN sent you for a sonogram and lab tests to rule out clotting disorder or thyroid problems. Heavy periods may have nothing to do with approaching menopause so please don't freak out yet!

    I'll be looking into an early menopause myself (my RE doctors predicted at 45 the latest). Oh well, at least I have some time to prepare so I can minimize the negative physical and psychological impact. I'm afraid of the psychological and mental changes the most...

    1. I'll definitely request a sonogram at my next visit, but I do know that no fibroids showed up on the HSG that I had in March. Thyroid problems have already been ruled out and I'm not sure about clotting disorders. The heavy periods aren't as worrisome to me (because even though these are heavier than I've ever had before, they're still not that far abnormal for me) as the lengthening cycles and other symptoms. It may be peri-menopause and it may not be, I just know that something is different (not right) and I'm concerned.

      According to the RE I'm also looking at being through menopause by my early 40s. Part of me is keen to get on with it because if my uterus and ovaries aren't good enough to carry a baby I may as well not have to deal with a period. But I also know there are a lot of negatives too (e.g., heart risk, osteoporosis, etc.) that I'm not sure that I'm ready to deal with.

  4. Yep. welcome to the joys (not) of perimenopause. :p I went off the pill at 34, got pg & lost the baby at 37 & my periods were completely all over the map for awhile. A "normal" cycle for me is generally 30-34 days; I was regularly having ones that lasted 37, 39, 44 days (& sometimes even longer). Then a couple of years ago they suddenly evened out & have mostly been 31-32 days again. Go figure. (And I am almost 54 and STILL going strong...!) :p Good luck!

    1. I really was hoping that I was wrong when it came to my fear of perimenopause but it seams that my fears aren't too far off base. I don't even know that fear is the correct word. Part of me is excited to just get on with it and never have to deal with a period again and part of me is sad that my "somewhere in the vicinity of getting struck by lightening but there's still a chance" chances of pregnancy will be gone forever. It's such a weird place to be (both physically and emotionally).

      I hope your period vacates soon! Ugh! That must be so annoying!