In 2010 I found myself living in Kenya and dating a gorgeous, wonderful(ish) Kenyan guy. It was great. My once “no kids” self had transformed into a “must have child now with gorgeous Kenyan man” machine. And so…I stopped taking the pill (at age 41 — yes, I NOW know) and started to shag — a lot. After about 6 months, there was no baby. Not only was there no baby, but I started to notice that my periods were actually off schedule.
My cycle, since the age of 10, was like clockwork. I knew what day and to some degree what time my cycle would start. So when it started to get off-track, I downloaded a free app and started charting the starts and stops. After about 6 months (still no baby), I noticed that my cycle was all over the map. VERY inconsistent.
So — there I was. I was traveling constantly for work throughout Africa, Middle East, Europe and India. I was not sleeping, wasn’t eating right, and was STRESSED like I’d never really known before — but I was “trying”. I was flying in my lover to whatever city made sense so we could “hang out” hoping that it would finally end in a pregnancy.
After trying for a year and noticing that my periods were off, I decided to start to see doctors in whatever city I happen to be visiting. I started in Nairobi but I didn’t get a great doctor. So I also went to see a doctor in Johannesburg, Dubai, London, New York, and Bombay (Mumbai). They all said the same thing — it’s just the stress. Cut back on the stress, take some fertility meds for ovulation, and you’ll be fine. I even had the lover tested just to be safe. I also saw a homeopathic doctor who specialized in fertility in Johannesburg and started to take some powder something or other — I was on a mission.
My doctor in Kenya came back after we did another series of tests and called late at night to say, “…your ovarian reserve (AMH) is extremely low — you will not get pregnant — you’re in peri-menopause…”
I didn’t believe her because I had doctors in other parts of the world telling me I would get pregnant and I wanted to believe them.
And so I sat up all night and searched the internet through the tears and found a doctor in Mumbai who specialized in fertility. She reviewed lab results for free — said it was good Karma. I emailed her my latest results (and all of the others) and asked her to tell me what was happening — would I ever get pregnant? A lot of my doctors said I would but things don’t seem right. It’s not happening.
She wrote back the next day and said, “…whoever told you that you could get pregnant was lying — you will never get pregnant — your numbers are so low I’m surprised you have any cycle at all. I’m very sorry. You need to seek treatment for any uncomfortable symptoms you might be having because you’re in peri-menopause.
Peri what? Who?
I didn’t know it existed. I knew MENOPAUSE existed. But what was Peri all about?
Turns out — Peri is that time leading up to menopause. So, here’s the difference. Peri-menopause means you’re probably still having a period but have some symptoms that the hormone machine is shutting down. So periods are off track, (might be longer or shorter, might be heavier, might have two periods in a month — whatever), hot flashes might come around, skin is sagging (loss of estrogen), memory is getting foggy, energy going, weight gain around your stomach — the list is actually endless.
Peri is not nice. Peri is cruel.
Peri likes to torture you for a very long time — years in fact — before your body finally shuts down and you never have a period ever again. When you finally go 12 full months without any cycle (period) whatsoever — congrats — you’ve divorced Peri and are now officially married to Menopause — “Meno”.
So — one would think — if Peri has left the building, shouldn’t my symptoms go away?
No. That would be simple.
Meno wants to take the work that Peri did and ratchet it up a bit. Make those hot flashes more intense. Sex drive? Not with Meno. Does your vagina get lubricated anymore without a vat of Sliquid lube nearby? No. Are you growing hair in places the good Lord never intended? Definitely. Are you gaining weight in places that you never anticipated and cannot, no matter what you eat and how much you exercise lose it? Yes, yes, yes.
Meno is an evil beastie.
And so — the battle begins. The fight against your own body to maintain some level of control and decency despite your bladder’s new found inability to hold urine. The battle to fight the forces of weight gain, early morning anxiety attacks, night sweats, and depression.
What are your weapons for this great battle?