Menopause is not an event that many women look forward to. The “Change of Life” is shrouded in stories of hot flashes and insomnia that accompany the ending of menstrual bleeding. No woman can know what kind of menopause she will have, but if her biological mother had a menopause, then her experience can be a guide.
My own mother had a hysterectomy in the 1970s, and back then they took your ovaries too. Her menopause happened very early and was not helpful to my own expectations for myself.
Turns out menopause came really early for me in my 40s. I was feeling hot all the time and went into the western doctor to see if I had some kind of low grade fever/infection. I was totally surprised when my FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone) was at 121. FSH is a hormone your body makes to induce ovulation. But! When there are no more eggs left, your body keeps making the FSH because it doesn’t get the feedback that ovulation happened. As a result, FSH keeps going up and up. A menstruating woman’s FSH ranges from 4-20, then in peri-menopause goes up to 30, and then once you have stopped menstruating completely the number goes up to 130.
I was shocked and for a time, a little sad, and had to grieve the end of my menstruating self. As a pragmatist above alll else, I needed to set about how to relieve the symptoms that were so foreign to me, like suddenly being hot all the time. I have spent my life freezing to death and ceaselessly shopping for the perfect cashmere sweater. Now I am hot and sweating and looking for caftans.
I dove back into my Chinese Medicine books with a renewed and intimate understanding of what “steaming bones” and “yin deficient fire” meant. Chinese Medicine serves women’s health in detail and with a deep understanding of constellations of symptoms. I engage the medicine everyday in treating women for all manner of menstrual irregularities, and this includes menopause too! I found a formula that worked really well right away. My hot flashes and sweating reduced, and I was able to sleep through the night.
I also had a more thorough hormone test done with a new company that does dried urine testing. The more data I could collect on my hormones the more focused my treatment could be. It would also spare me the expense of purchasing a whole bunch of supplements and just using trial and error to figure out what made me feel better. With the merging of Chinese medicine formulas, 1 hormone test, and 3 supplements, I have gotten my symptoms under control. I still have a hot flash here and there, but I’m not wondering if I will burst into flames at any moment. I am also not expecting that I can stop the natural flow of aging. Growing old is a privilege. I look really do forward to my hair graying and carrying the accumulated wisdom and experience that I have earned through these years.
By Dr Jennifer Bezjak
Photo Credit - Mahle Air Cooling