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Please begin with an informative title:

In our mothers' day (okay "our" mothers meaning you are in the 40-80 range) menopause was not discussed, mentioned or talked about.

One leaned in and whispered when one discussed "the change."

Like, what it was shameful? Or something to be scared of?  Did we morph into hideous monsters, worthy of a sci-fi movie.*

And while I'm at it "menopause?"  

Who in the hell came up with that name?   Men?

And PAUSE?  as in "short break - - - we'll be right back after this message?"

It's not pausing, it's ending.  finis

The Grand Finale

. . .  with all the actors on stage singing an uplifting chorus as balloons and confetti falls as we say good bye to "the gift."  

The curtain is dropping, clear out, it's time to begin another production.

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I had originally thought of comparing menopause as a star going supernova .... with our hormones fading in an out and sometimes throwing of whooping doses as it moves closer to it's end, but I found the analogy problematic when it came to the end.

Every woman is different as to how she experiences menopause.  But there are many things we know about peri-menopause and menopause.  

We know about feeling hot.  

I have already this winter, sat in front of an open window while my husband huddled under blankets.  Or started to strip off layers of clothing as I was in a meeting with my son's teachers.

The other thing I knew about, because of all the recent press, is the mental fogg (or fuzzies) as I like to call them.

A new study confirms what has long been a common complaint of women going through menopause: memory lapses, also termed "brain fog," is real.

Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center published a study in the journal Menopause that shows that changes in cognition really do occur when a woman is going through menopause.
- Huffington Post

There are not enough flowers on the earth that I can give my mother to apologize for being so short and impatient with her when this hit.  I remember it, the confused look, the hard time processing some seemingly simple information, and forgetting words.  And now that I am going through it, I understand exactly how frustrating and scary it was for her.  

Part of breaking the silence, the "shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" is not letting the impatience of my children go unanswered.  I'm in menopause, this is something I am dealing with, knock it off!

My mother says she didn't experience anything at all.   I think she's forgotten about her memory lapses.  But she's also forgotten about mood swings.  Swing that sometimes made PMS look like a "minor disagreement."

Many women who are transitioning through menopause  may report increased levels of anger, and this is natural. Mood swings and anger are a particularly unsettling symptom of menopause that affect as many as 50% of American women. Mood swings and anger can cause turmoil in a woman’s own mind and can have a great affect on her external life and relationships with others.
-34 Menopause Symptoms
Okay so here is where you can say we morph in to crazed monsters.

Okay, I'll confess I have snapped at my husband all weekend - starting Friday night, for no reason.  Really the anger and defensiveness had/has no reason to be there, other than "the change."

And in that phase we are worse than the Hulk.  Bruce Banner at least gives a warning, "Don't make me angry.  You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."  With many of us in that phase, there is no warning.  We'll tear off your arm and beat you with it, before you can even finish saying "good morning."

It's best just to leave me alone.

But there are things I knew nothing about.

One is the breast "swelling and tenderness."

Oh, that sounds so nice.  And so much an understatement.

After women turn 40 their breasts change.  The mass changes, they become less firm and more "squishy."    But one night I noticed that they were firm again.

Well howdie do!  

I remember this; firm, nice, round . . . sitting where they ought.

Cool!

It was like they were balloons and someone was pumping them up . . .

. . . . and then forgot to  stop pumping.

"Oh cool!"  Turned very shortly into "Oh my gawd this hurts!"

And I remembered this too.  It felt like the the pain of breast engorgement when nursing.  But unlike that time when you can express the milk and end the pain --- there is nothing to express.  I know, I tried - it was desperate.

I was desperate.

When that didn't work I took me, and the rock hard, Pam Anderson impersonating, gals to the computer and looked it up.  And then went over to facebook to bitch about it.  Where, I found many sympathetic friends.

The swelling went away and I don't think I will ever say, again, "I wish my breasts were the way they were when I was younger."
.
Now, more often then not, they feel like Bocce Balls in bottom of a couple of  pillow cases trying to play "Newton's cradle" with one another.

(am I being descriptive enough)

ow, ow, ow

I have also experienced vaginal dryness.  I knew about this from a friend but she didn't quite explain that it feels like a yeast infection, sandpaper and the Gobi Desert all at the same time.

Vagina Dentata?  No, I had Vagina Sandpaperous.  The thought of having sex during those times sent me into fits of laughter imagining the friction would set us both on fire.

I even imagined I could set the sofa on fire just by "scooching" over.

Then came the very real vaginal burning.  

No, it's nothing like being horny.  That I know  . . .  this is not.  And it would come when I was driving, going through the grocery store, having a meeting.

And all you can do is sit there and feel the warmth come, go through pleasant to "OMG  turn it OFF!"

Both of these (the dryness and the burning) are signs of Vaginal Atrophy.  (another term I hate).  It's cause by the lack of estrogen that makes the vagina(vulva) thinner and less elastic/flexible.  Also "vaginal secretions are reduced", making it drier and less lubricated.1

My friend told me about estrogen cream to help combat these symptoms.  I asked my PCP and he told me that, especially for me, that was my gynecologists area to ask him.  Knowing that my annual was a few months off and I wanted to wait to do it all at that one time, I picked up a box of Estroven (extra strength because that's all they had) to "get me through.

Within 7 days the burning and the dryness disappeared.  And I haven't had a bout of it since.  I still have the mental fuzzies and breast pain, but no swelling.   And I have "break through" Hulkina.  

When I saw my gyno on January 4 he had no problem with me taking Estroven and we didn't even discuss estrogen cream.  Though we were looking at other things (discussed in tip jar)

I do like this advice too for dealing with vaginal atrophy

When a woman doesn’t have intercourse or other vaginal sexual activity on a regular basis following menopause, her vagina may also become shorter and narrower. Then, when she does try to have intercourse, she is likely to experience pain, even if she uses a lubricant. That’s because dry, fragile vulvovaginal tissues are susceptible to injury, tearing, and bleeding during intercourse or any penetration of the vagina. The resulting discomfort can be so great that the woman avoids intercourse and the condition worsens. Sometimes, even women who are not sexually active are bothered by vaginal dryness and the irritation that may accompany it.

Continuing to have regular vaginal sexual activity through menopause helps keep the vaginal tissues thick and moist and maintains the vagina’s length and width. This helps keep sexual activity pleasurable.
-- The North American Menopause Society



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