I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) at age 30. I was “labeled” Post-menopausal at age 33.
This was after years of abnormal periods and an inability to conceive.
See, I had my first period at age 15 and had regular cycles (32-36 days with periods lasting about 5 days), so they might have been considered irregular, but since they came about every 5 weeks like clockwork, I never really thought anything of it. This lasted until I was 18 and joined the Military. I was given birth control in Boot Camp and told “you must take this.” Since I was rather naive, I took that to be a direct order and took them. I had never taken BC before so had no idea what I was getting into. I did like the fact that my cycles were even more regular (exactly 28 days) and now they were lighter and only lasted 3 days WOOHOO!
Anyway, I continued to take the BC, but started to have break-through spotting a couple years later, I was 21. I complained to Medical and their solution was to switch the brand I was taking. Well, the ‘”new” ones caused weight gain, mood swings and MORE SPOTTING! So, back to Medical I went. I was told, “you have to give it time and let your body adjust.” How’s that for a non-solution? So, I quit taking BC all together.
My cycles stayed relatively regular for about 6 months or so and the break-through spotting stopped. Then, the irregularity started. 2 weeks-period…6 weeks-period…3 weeks-period. I’m sure you get the picture. I never knew when to expect it. I had never really suffered from PMS so never really had a warning that a cycle was coming, until it was there.
The irregularity continued and after I got married, Hubby and I agreed I should speak to the Dr about it. The Dr recommended a fertility specialist and I made an appointment. Now, at the time (late 90’s) Hubby was still in the Military so I had no choice but to see a Military Dr. (For those of you who don’t know, at the time Dr’s in the military didn’t have to be licensed to practice and the majority of them were only RN’s) While seeing the Fertility “specialist” she refused to treat my husband (she was an OB/GYN), what kind of “fertility Dr” doesn’t treat both parties?! After taking my history and doing an HSG (normal) she recommended a course of Clomid, with an ultrasound scheduled for day 15 of my cycle. Ultrasound results? Can’t find my ovaries and my “uterus is really small.”
During this time Hubby and I were “on a schedule” for sex, I was charting my basal body temp and cervical mucus (eewww, I’m embarrassed to write that). I was watching what I ate…no caffeine, no alcohol, limited sugar and processed food. Still, no luck on conceiving.
So, Dr recommends IVF. The catch? Being in the Military we would need to go to Walter Reed Medical Center, in Maryland! We were in Georgia! Now, the rest of the catch…we would have to pay for all expenses except the lab fees. Hubby would have to get permission to go, using valuable vacation days, and it would take multiple trips of multiple days. So, this wasn’t an option for us. About the time this was happening Hubby got orders for his new Duty Station. You guessed it, we were moving…overseas.
New duty station, new Dr’s. I brought up the fertility issue with the new Dr and he wanted to start “from the beginning” with all the testing etc. Ummm, really? Why can’t we use the information that is in my record and go from there? I really did not want to repeat any of the uncomfortable and downright painful testing that I had already done.
So, Hubby and I gave up. It also didn’t help that he would be deployed for weeks and months at a time. Can’t exactly try to conceive when your partner is hundreds of miles away.
Fast forward about 5 years, and I get my POF diagnosis (another ultrasound-no ovaries to be found). I had my last period shortly after that. Which brings me to Menopause.
For those of you who have not been through it, let me just say Menopause sucks! There are the hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, mood swings, libido issues, mood swings, vaginal dryness, depression and oh, did I mention mood swings? So, mood swings…I would go from laughing to crying to furious in about 10 seconds flat. I had no control over my emotions. I would fly off the handle and rage over absolutely nothing. I would cry over stupid commercials, or nothing, sometimes.
So, I suffered through the symptoms of menopause, with no help (or sympathy) from my Dr. Her recommendation? “I’ll give you a prescription for Xanax.” WHAT?!? (sorry, that was a mood swing).
So, now you’re mostly up to date. Last year, another new Dr. He’s concerned about the “premature menopause” (I should just now be starting to have “mild” symptoms, not be post-menopausal) and the lack of estrogen in my system. He sends me for a DEXA scan (bone density) and the results are I have osteopenia in my hips and osteoporosis in my back (this probably explains why I have shrunk an inch in the last 10 years and have suffered from lower back pain for years). So, Dr sends me to an Endocrinologist. She recommends Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Now I am on HRT (estrogen and progesterone)…the benefits? I feel better (less depressed), I sleep better and my sex life has improved tremendously (this makes Hubby super happy). The drawbacks…Cramps, sore boobs and I keep bleeding. It started with some occasional minor spotting, which I brought up to the Dr. I was sent for an ultrasound, which resulted in an endometrial biopsy (something I never want to repeat! Can you say OWWW!?! I almost kicked the Dr in the head!) Now, the bleeding has progressed to having a “period” every 2 weeks! This is ridiculous. This wasn’t mentioned during the discussion about taking HRT. I was told there “was a possibility of vaginal bleeding” but every 2 weeks? Do the Dr’s not realize how inconvenient this is? Maybe they don’t care? I don’t know, I’m ready to stop the HRT all together, but the benefits (right now) are outweighing the inconvenience. I just wish I could get a straight answer from the Dr, any Dr!
So, that’s pretty much my story.