Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Causes of "The Pause"

I'm on a roll here.

My own experience with "the Pause" is rather tame and easily paced. I'm 47. My biological clock is ticking as it should. I moan about my missing mane and spend to much time trying to find things that I've forgotten the name of. My period comes, goes, goes, goes, pops back in for a quick visit and goes again. Over all, and to date, I'm managing just fine.

But not all women will experience menopause equally. I'm on the slow, scenic boat to China. Some gals are hit up side the head by a speeding menopause bullet train to hell.

I shall continue with my information download on menopause that arrives prematurely, without invitation and bearing no gift.

There are three main reasons for women to experience premature or sudden menopause.

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF): Typically the result of an autoimmune disorder. Your bodies immune system mistakenly attacks itself. From what I gather, some wires get crossed and your body believes disease has arrived. It then reacts by sending out an army of antibodies to combat the perceived threat. If the antibodies are directed to your reproductive system, your ovarian function my be seriously damaged. Or worse..... completely destroyed. Entire countries have been known to do this too.

Surgery: If you have your ovaries removed ...Oophorectomy.... or have your ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes removed...Hysterectomy... your hormone levels drop like a rock and you will experience instant menopause. Instant menopause is not easy like the name suggests. Think instant hell.

Here's the picture. First you are recovering from major surgery....maybe as result of a serious disease like ovarian cancer.....and you have immediate menopausal symptoms that are extreme due to the sudden loss of hormone production in your body. Your estrogen production line shuts down. Everyone is fired. You get physical and emotional pain all rolled into one ugly severance package. Ouch.

Even if your ovaries stay put during a hysterectomy, they may be damaged during the operation. Having a tubal ligation ("tubes tied") may also lead to ovary damage and sudden menopause.

Radiation Therapy, Chemotherapy and Tamoxifen: All three treatments disrupt ovarian function. Sometimes your ovaries will return to normal after the chemical treatment has been completed. But not always. Even though your period returns, you may no longer be fertile.

Tamoxifen, which is often prescribed for women who have certain types of breast cancer, serves to block your bodies ability to make estrogen. No estrogen production equals sudden menopause. And again, once Tamoxifen treatment has been completed, ovarian function may resume. Or maybe not.

Sudden menopause can also be a result of excessive weight loss (anorexia). This is yet another complex, female specific condition that requires serious attention. It's just not healthy to starve yourself.

So there's the basics. I'm no doctor. But I can read and gather information.

Sue Richards


Blogger Lisa said...

Very good information! Sudden menopause was incredibly painful for me. Three days after my hystertomy I had a migraine for 13 days due to the sudden drop in estogen. Then I went into a deep depression and emotional rollercoaster. No one told me anything about menopause before or after my surgery. I had to learn everything on my own and continue to learn more and more every day.

Like the Grateful Dead have said...What long strange trip it's been....


11/03/2005 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Sue Richards said...

Hi RB,

You were the inspiration for this post.

That no one told you anything about menopause during any point of your surgery strikes me as cruel and inhumane.

And unfortunately common. There's scads of missing information and not telling going on. Not necessarily deliberate not telling. Just that passive, didn't think it was important kind of not telling.

I guess that's why I started this blog. I figured no one is going to tell me about menopause. It's up to me to take that responsibility for myself. Might as well share what I find out along the way.


11/04/2005 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Liberty said...

You put it very well, in fact I don't think we could have described premature menopause any better, or even as well! Unfortunately you are also painfully accurate about what is all too common, the lack of provision of information that women need or want to know. Which is why once again we become a sisterhood, having to support each other. Not that that is such a bad thing, we have been doing it since time immemorial. Perhaps our mistake was to beleive that in a technological age, someone else would take on that role. Better to prepare ourselves and each other.

Education about menarche and menstruation should logically include menopausal information. Of course none of that should diminish the importance of the fact that we are richly diverse as human beings, and every woman's experience is unique.

11/14/2005 03:34:00 PM  

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