Thoughts on Menopause
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — You may not believe this but some readers ask me to write about certain things. In response today I will finally write about menopause. I did not want to write about that for a long time but now I realize that it’s something most women go through and writing about it may help. Let me remember what it was like for me. Please forgive me if sometimes you feel the language to be a bit indelicate.

When I had my last baby — 48 years ago — my male gynecologist said he believed in doing early hysterectomies on women because when you lose your ovaries, you stopped getting your period. It was self-induced menopause. I was only 27 then. It really didn’t matter to me.

In my middle 30s I began to bleed out of schedule. I went to another male gynecologist who operated on me because I had growths in my uterine area and my fallopian tubes were inordinately inflamed. I learned then that fallopian tubes could burst and result in a form of peritonitis, which is what happens when your appendicitis bursts. He told me he removed my tubes and half an ovary.

A few years later I was bleeding again. This time I went to another male gynecologist who sent me for tests. I went to see him on a Wednesday. On Thursday he called me up and asked me if I could check in the next day because he needed to operate on me. My tests had found something that he thought he should remove immediately.

After the operation he said I had a total hysterectomy. He had found Level 2 cancer, but now it was all gone and I didn’t have to worry. I’m glad he didn’t tell me about the cancer before because I would have died on the operating table. I think I was 38 then. I remembered what the first gynecologist told me. After this surgery I was menopausal. But I did not experience any symptoms. Also I didn’t want to go to another doctor again. He said he had removed all the cancer. I chose to believe him. I am still alive today. That operation was 37 years ago.

Then I turned 49. I had no more monthlies since the last operation. But when I hit the age, I got the symptoms. I had hot flushes — or is it flashes? I never knew which word. I was then working in advertising. I knew myself to be a woman who no longer cried. But there was that year when I shed tears over everything. We lost one of our international accounts because we did not have a multinational partner. I cried when the clients told me. I cried when a friend told me a sob story. I could not stop crying. I could not talk. I had to wear dark glasses because my eyes got so swollen I could not see well. I just could not understand myself.

But the worst part was what they call the night sweats. I would get into bed at night and be unable to sleep. I was hot and restless, turning around in bed trying to find the right position to make me sleep. All I could think of was that I was like our dog who turned around in circles before finding his favored position for sleep. This, to me, was the worst part.

Also the hot flushes and the hypersensitivity. I easily lost my temper. But what was particularly annoying about my menopause is the symptoms came at the time when I was supposed to be menopausing even if I had had a total hysterectomy 10 years before. That operation induced my menopause but I didn’t get the symptoms then. The symptoms came when I was 49 and they lasted until I was turning 51. I woke up on New Year’s Day and told my body aloud, seriously, “Menopause is finished.” I spoke this out and sincerely meant it. And all the symptoms stopped.

I remember going back to the last male gynecologist, the one who did my hysterectomy. By this time I was living my life totally alone for many years. I had no lovers, just hard work and friends.

“Do you experience pain when you have sex?” the doctor asked.

 “Excuse me, Doctor,” I said, “but I don’t do that.” Then when I walked out of his office I wondered why I always had male gynecologists. I mean, really — wasn’t that a silly thing to do? They don’t know what it feels like to be a woman! Maybe that was because I belonged to a generation that trusted male doctors more than female doctors.

Now I have a confession to make. I don’t like to visit doctors. I am still afraid of cancer, chemotherapy, radiation. I just drink my StemEnhance Ultra and pray: “God, please let me die of natural causes and please make it quick.”

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