My Surgically Induced Early Menopause Journey
Kendall Rayburn, Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger
Something very under-discussed in the women's health space is women who go through menopause before the natural aging process. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that menopause in my twenties was something that I'd experience - but I was wrong.
I tried every kind of treatment and surgery and was desperate for relief from the pain that Endometriosis was causing me. Luckily, my Endometriosis diagnosis came early enough for my husband and I to have two children - but what came after was a true menopause nightmare. At age 26, I was officially thrown into menopause after several surgeries for Endometriosis, resulting in the removal of my ovaries and uterus. I know my menopause journey is a little unique, but I'm proud to share my story to help prepare and support other women who might be going through the same thing.
Did you know that approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States and approximately 20 million American women have had a hysterectomy?1
How Menopause Made Me Feel
Experiencing menopause young made me feel terrible, it still does. It made my body have flashes of extreme heat, I felt like I was catching fire. Lots of people have talked about hot flashes, so I knew those were coming. But I don't think you truly understand hot flashes unless you experience them for yourself.
I also had no idea my mood issues would be so terrible. They started about two weeks after my surgery and they were a pain to deal with. I can sense them coming now and have to remind myself to breathe to keep them at bay. Every now and then I won't be able to catch a mood issue before it hits at full force. Going to see a therapist has been extremely beneficial when it comes to working through the emotions of it all, it's been so healing for me. I can go in once a week and discuss anything I'm having trouble working through and have the emotional support and guidance I need to find a solution.
What I Wish Someone Told Me
I wish someone would have told me that my experience may be a bit more severe since I was hitting menopause before my biological clock wanted me to. I wish someone would have told me there was a chance the surgeries wouldn't help my pain at all, and that I'd have the pain and menopause symptoms. I also wish someone had told me about EQUELLE a LOT sooner, as it is something that could have made the journey a bit easier.
I wish I had someone lay out a more accurate picture of what my life would look like having menopause so young. For a few years, I was a hot, sweaty mess nearly ALL of the time. Sometimes the severity of my hot flashes would leave me SOAKED in sweat (Side advice: Cotton underwear is your new best friend). I also never expected menopause to impact my sex life but after hitting menopause my desire tanked, I had a hard time "getting into the mood" and my husband and I had to work hard to jump over that hurdle to bring us back to where we once were.
What to Ask Your Doctor
Ask your doctor if there are ANY other options before you go the hysterectomy route. Make sure you 100 percent know what you're getting into before it happens - in retrospect, I wouldn't have gotten a hysterectomy for my Endometriosis if I knew what I know now. If you're hitting menopause at the right time, ask your doctor what kind of changes you should expect and that if there is anything they'd recommend to make the transition easier. If you get stressed at doctor's appointments, write all of your questions down on a piece of paper before your visit so you don't miss anything. Having a loved one go to the doctor with you helps, too. Especially if it's a significant other who needs to know what they'll be getting themselves into. ;)
How Others Can Better Prepare
Prepare yourself by stocking up on EQUELLE, it's going to help you! EQUELLE is a hormone free‡, non-prescription supplement clinically shown to alleviate the frequency of hot flashes and muscle aches associated with menopause†. And I can say from experience - it’s definitely cut down how frequently I experience these symptoms!! Also, ask women you know about their experience - we can learn a lot from each other by having these conversations and it will help increase awareness. The more we discuss, the more we'll know, right?
How We Can Support Friends / Family Going Through This
Supporting a friend or family member during this journey is as simple as just being there. Offer to help with meals, do research, go shopping for cooling products, etc. Since I am the first of my friends to hit menopause, I will be putting together Welcome to Menopause gifts for them when it's time. After all, I'll be the one with all of the experience! In all honesty, just check-in, ask them how they're doing, and most importantly, listen.
Ladies, menopause is something that we're ALL going to experience in our lifetime. So let's be as prepared as possible for when it happens. And know that whether you're hitting menopause before your expected date or right on time, every journey is unique. You might have totally different symptoms than I do, or someone else you know does - and that's okay! You know why? Because we are truly all in this together!
1 Whiteman M, Hillis S, Jamieson D et al., “Inpatient hysterectomy surveillance in the United States 2000-2004,” Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008; 198(1):34.
‡Free from human or animal hormones. Contains trace amounts of isoflavones, a type of naturally occurring plant hormone.
†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.