The M Word: Sarah, 53

Though our blog mainly focuses on Periods and the issues and sometimes joys that are associated with it – we felt it only right to look at the very end of our cycle – Menopause! 

October 18th is World Menopause day! Workplaces all over the nation are having menopause cafes to celebrate, raise awareness and support to a large number of women!

Sarah has been so kind to detail her journey from requesting a hysterectomy as a teenager to hot sweats she now faces during menopause. 

Twins don’t share everything 

I started my period when I was 12 years old. I suffered from day one as they were always very heavy and very painful. For the first 24 – 48 hours of my period each month I would feel physical ill and vomit. I suffered really bad with premenstrual tension and everyone in the house soon learnt to avoid me for a few days every month. This would interrupt my social life and would often have to have a day or two off from school each month. One of my earliest memories from having periods was going to southend with my friends for the day when I started to get cramps and waves of sickness I knew that I had to get home quickly. Another memory was when I had the usual monthly cramps and sickness, my mother understood the severity of my periods and said I should stay home that day. My twin brother had over heard that I was unwell, not realising my period was the cause he told our mum that he thought he was coming down with what I had so he should stay home too.

I begged for a Hysterectomy at 14 

My period symptoms went on for a couple of years interrupting both my school and social life. It got so bad that at the age of 14, I went to both my parents and begged them for a hysterectomy. My mum made an appointment with the GP where I was prescribed various painkillers, some worked better than others. I was still suffering. I commenced on the contraceptive pill (Ovran) and that really seemed to do the trick. The pill helped regulate my periods, it made them lighter and the sickness had gone. After around a year of taking Ovran it was discontinued due to the high risk of side effects.

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I was then prescribed microgynon which also worked well for me. I continued taking the pill up until the age of 23. I had thinning of the skin on one of my legs and the GP had advised I stopped taking the pill for a short period of time as he felt this may have been a side effect, he prescribed me for some cream for my leg. When I stopped taking the pill the cramps and heavy periods came back and shortly after, I fell pregnant with my daughter.

Labour Pains were like Period Pains

I had a very good pregnancy. I was really worried about labour however I was lucky that both of my labours with my children were short and I could compare the labour pains to the painful cramps that I was used to when I first started my period. Post pregnancy I went back on the pill then came off it to have my son. After having my son I went back on the pill. I had one of each and decided that i did not want anymore children so at the age of 30 I made the decision to be sterilised. I had my tubes tied. I thought this would have helped settle my periods, however my periods were extremely heavy although there was no more nausea and vomiting. I was annoyed that despite undergoing such an invasive surgery I still had periods. I had thought the sterilisation would make my periods disappear forever.

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This went on until the age of 50, I had one random bout of spotting then they just stopped. I was aware you could go through the menopause at late 40s to 50s, I remember my mum having a fan by her bed but apart from that I did not know much else about menopause. I went to the GP where he confirmed that I was in the menopause.

Hot Flushes + Urination = Menopause 

I still get PMS symptoms (according to my family). I am now 3 years into the menopause and have noticed a change in myself emotionally. Rather than being extremely “moody” I now often feel anxious even about the most simplest of things. I often hot flashes especially during the night time. My torso gets really hot, strangely I find if I get up and urinate my discomfort is alleviated. I’m not good at taking medication regularly and was reluctant to take HRT due to the bad press and risks  associated with it. 

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I cannot remember the last time I had a full uninterrupted nights sleep as the hot flashes wake me up. Although I do not miss the heavy painful periods I do miss a good nights sleep. I get worn out quicker than I would before and regularly feel tired and have been known to have naps in the day. When I listen to others stories about their experience of the menopause I feel I have been lucky with my experience. The menopause for me is still on going I am hoping that I have avoided the part of getting facial hair.

On Reflection

Reflecting on m bodies journey through periods  to menopause and all the events inbetween… I do not  feel any less of a woman due to sterilization or menopause. I am fully accepting of it and feel Menopause was one of the best things to happen as I no longer have to suffer bad periods. I had my children, it served its purpose and that’s the circle of life.

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Have you had a similar experiences to Sarah? What are your views on Menopause? Let us know in the comment section below! 

 

Check out our Heavy flow series here!

Hear about our readers first Periods.

Exercising and Periods we got you covered!

Heavy Flow: Sophie, 41

IN This series WE WILL BE SHARING OUR READERS SUBMISSIONS ON HEAVY PERIODS. OUR AIM IS HIGHLIGHT THE EXPERIENCES AND SITUATIONS OF THOSE WHO HAVE HEAVY FLOWS (MENORRHAGIA)
THIS WEEK Sophie Shares her experience of how heavy periods can get in the way of everyday events, as well as much more joyous occasions, which led to her eventual diagnosis of Fibroids. Sophie also details her early struggles with period poverty.
Entry into Womanhood 

My first period, I was 11-12. I sat on the toilet, looked down and saw Red – I screamed. My dad, mum, sister and cousins all came at the door. My mum took me aside and very gently, explained the process of womanhood and suggested for me not to freak out. From then, I have always had heavy and painful periods. It has not ceased and over the past three years it has worsened.

toilet period

Illustration by: CELINA PARENTE

Night and Day 

The second and third night of my period, I wake up every 3 hours to change. This is despite the super plus tampon and night pad. If i fail to do so, the blood streams through to my mattress. To avoid this, my mind wakes me – usually from a dream where I’m drowning or being surrounded by a large body of water, and to the bathroom I go.

In the daytime, as a social worker, I visit service users in their home. I try to stay in the office during the first 3 days, but it’s not always possible. I have had what I call ‘incidents’. I have also sat in heated meetings, hoping there will not be a blood stain on the chair once I stand up.

Three years ago, I went on a camping trip. As I got on to the Eurostar, my period came early. I have memories of going for breakfast with my bloodstained PJs on, I wore my jumper around my waist to disguise the stains. That was a wake up call and decided to see my GP about it.

I was diagnosed with Fibroids, I am informed that  1 in 3 women develop this condition throughout their lifespan. I was prescribed Mefenamic Acid mainly to lower blood loss – it worked partially.

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There was another occasion, last year when one of my best friends got married. When I received the wedding invite, the first thought,as always was, ‘I hope I won’t be on’. Thankfully I was not. It was not so much the logistics of being near toilet facilities that was anxiety provoking. It was the prospect of being bloated and having to reconsider outfit choices.

Creativity in Poverty 

The biggest impact my heavy periods have had on my lifestyle was when I could not afford sanitary products. Those were the days I was stealing toilet paper from work – I was so broke. I was ashamed, I wished I could have disappeared from planet earth.

On reflection, I recognise that us woman are a creative bunch when it comes to our period and how not to draw attention to it.

I look back on my experiences and have thoughts of having a YouTube channel tutorial on DIY period items to support women, who like I once did,  experience period poverty.

period poverty

Illustration by: Emma Evelyn Speight

 

Have you ever experienced Period Poverty? Or Fibroids? If so, let us know in the comment sections, how you have managed such conditions.

Why not check out Adanna and Charmaine’s experience of Heavy Periods.

Heavy Flow: Adanna, 40

WELCOME TO OUR NEW BLOG SERIES HEAVY FLOW!
IN THE UPCOMING WEEKS WE WILL BE SHARING OUR READERS SUBMISSIONS ON HEAVY PERIODS. OUR AIM IS HIGHLIGHT THE EXPERIENCES AND SITUATIONS OF THOSE WHO HAVE HEAVY FLOWS (MENORRHAGIA)
THIS WEEK Adanna shares her story, which spans over two very different Islands and how A 3am internet search led to a Eureka moment in her battle with heavy periods.
Carrie, Cutlass and I 

It’s a man’s world!! This was my firm belief when I got my first period. I had read all the American books that made me believe it would be an experience with butterflies hatching and harp playing in the background on a sunny day with birds tweeting when I “came of age”. I had all the discussions with friends about periods who are elite women now. I thought I was ready. I was excited until it happened. I was on my way home from school feeling weak and tired with a very uncomfortable pelvic area. I arrived home to see my knickers were blood soaked. I was excited because I was the last of my friends to have my first period.

I tried to wash the knickers then fell asleep only to be awakened by my dad who had the cutlass out wanting to know who or what had been slaughtered on the white tiles; where all the blood in the bathroom came from and why I was blood soaked. The bathroom looked like a scene from Carrie. When I got off the bed and with shame pointed at my mother’s pack of pads with a knowing “Oh hor!” My dad proceeded to explain the birds and the bees island style. Thus; was my entry to womanhood.

Period leak heavy flow

Image By: Akshita Monga

I had to get innovative with my management as mine was not the normal periods.Oh no they ruled my life. It was the black towel on the bed. Black knickers, two extra-long sanitary towels to give me maximum coverage. I dreaded my periods. I had many occasions where I felt the warm stream of blood down my leg at assembly time. I often had the pleasure of walking like John Wayne, with the old school thick pads doubled up – you used what you had on the island. I had to cancel social events as I know, I ran the risk of leaking, or just being too exhausted to be sociable.

The Big Move and it’s Payback. 

When I moved to England it was the tampon and double pad combo. In my working years I would have a change of clothes. I remember vividly sitting in a meeting and feeling the “woosh” and having blood splashed up my back. Coming to the UK meant that my periods rebelled at my audacity to leave island life. It began a campaign to destroy me, literally. I had 2 periods in a month. Clots so big they needed contractions to come out. I had times where I would bleed until I got medication to stop.

This was insufferable, especially for an 18-year-old with no parental supervision who had just discovered boys!! I got fobbed off by the G.P, until I ended up in A&E when I had a “woosh” at work and someone said that is not normal.

I was diagnosed with (menorrhagia) and some validation that this is an actual thing that required specialist treatment. I was prodded, poked, scoped and scraped by many a specialist and given so much tablets to take that I rattled! These worked, but my periods began to play hide and seek for a few years and just pop up unannounced and uninvited.

No Tampons allowed 

This continued into my late 20’s until I decided to exercise a bit more and to stop using tampons. Did I mention I was a geek and would often venture into the lesser crossed paths of the internet and get lost in rabbit holes that do not lead to Wonderland.

I became tired of the periods ruling my life and popping pills that had minimal benefit and unpleasant life-long side effects (hello reflux I am talking to you). So I had decided that I was on the fast track to cancer with tampons.

I have no empirical evidence to support this so quote me at your peril. However; I noticed that the flow reduced significantly without them so I continued. The triple pad, toilet paper roll up, combo was emotional some days, especially when it got caught in my pubic hair. I only came to waxing last month don’t judge me!! I also saw a reduction in blood flow when I lost weight it might be related it might not.

Tampons on pink background

Eureka! Hello Mooncup 

My periods were transformed into normality when I began to use a Mooncup (other cups are available, but I only have used this one). Now discovering this gem occurred on one of my “I am going to cure myself” 3 am internet searches. This was after I got bored with researching how tall Jesus was.

I decided I am going to try it as I had nothing to lose but my dignity. This friends; is not for the faint hearted. However; it has saved me money and given me my life back.  So I got the thing which the sizing process alone was stressful. Because according to Mooncup your vaginal cavity is automatically and anatomically bigger after age 30 and no children. I will leave this here, as I know there are many theories and mathematical equations that could support this view however; it’s a lie from the pit of hell!!! Anyway, I got one, brought it home and I give thanks to everything that is great and good and helps with decision making because I chose the period week when I was on annual leave to get acquainted.

Mooncup heavy flow

Image by: Noname

This cup has a stalk that you can cut off entirely but then you must use superpowers to remove it and not spill blood from the cup. If you can do this, you are Houdini reincarnated and we must meet immediately. I will leave it to your curious minds to research the joys of Mooncup insertion and removal. My top tip for use outside the home is keep and empty water bottle in your drawer at work to rinse it in the toilet and disabled toilets are your safe space as you need to room to manoeuvre especially if your bum is so big has its own orbit like mine.

A Five Year Reflection

Now no more “wooshing” on average 5-7-day regular monthly periods. I have been using them for the past 5 years I believe. I still use a pad, but my John Wayne days are over!!! I still get extremely tired leading up to and on the first 2 days, but I can leave my house without fear and anxiety. That being said I am yet to wear white in period week. However; I love an animal print and being a woman every day of the month, hear me roar!!!

 

Thank You for reading… have you either experienced heavy flows? Please let us know in the comment section below!

 

Enjoyed this? Why not check out:

Charmaine’s account on her Heavy Flow

Mooncups and First Periods 

Sports and Periods

 

Independent Nurse Magazine – Period Poverty

We at Periodical Diary love  being a platform for all things Periods. From the information we share we learn so much from the Period community.  

We are now at the point where we can contribute to not only the ongoing debate regarding period poverty, but also contribute to research on the topic. 

It was therefore wonderful  to see our views made it into an Independent Nurse Nurse article on the role Nurses can play in eradicating period poverty. 

Click the link below to read the article and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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period nurse