I wasnt pregnant, overweight or too thin. I wasnt exercising too much or eating too little. From all appearances, I was a normal, healthy woman, but by the time I was in my mid-20s, I hadnt menstruated in four years.
My periods had never been regular, but I was accustomed to getting one at least three to four times a year. My doctors told me that I was a normal, healthy woman, at least in reproductive terms. But I was desperate to discover where my absent monthly visitor had gone, and why. My blood tests showed that my female sex hormonesestradiol and progesteronewere near menopausal levels, which put me at a risk for osteoporosis. I knew menopause could come early, but I was just 24.
To get answers, I turned to the internet late one Saturday night. Menopause, it told me, is the time when there have been no menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months, with no other biological or physiological cause identified. Using that definition as a guide, I was already in my fourth year of menopause, at least two decades early.
Most of my friends were well into their womanhood, seemingly in control of their regular periods and at the peak of their fertility. And then there was me. I wasnt a part of the menstruation camaraderie shared between many women. Instead, I identified more with women my mothers age.
Much of my early twenties was spent visiting doctors offices in search of answers. One doctor feared I had a tumor in my pituitary gland, a pea-sized organ in the brain that regulates vital body functions and general wellbeing. I was injected with a gadolinium-based contrast agent and had an MRI of my brain that, thankfully, came out negative. Another doctor misdiagnosed me with an underactive thyroid and prescribed thyroid medication. Even if that had been the problem, she also overmedicated me, throwing me into a fit of uncontrollable anxiety with equal parts impending doom, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. I lived in that state for several manic weeks.
My friends were well into their womanhood, seemingly in control of their regular periods. And then there was me. ... I identified more with women my mothers age.
It was hard to trust specialists after that experience, so I returned to my 62-year-old gynecologist, who had also been my mothers. (Technically, we had first met when he pulled me out of her.) I felt he was someone who would tell me the truth. Honey, relax, he told me. Theres no medical reason why you need to have a period. Most women would love to have your problem! While I pushed back against his supposed wisdom, he prepped me for an ultrasound.
Next thing I knew, I was lying on my back with my feet pressed against elevated, chilly metal stirrups. This will feel cold, an ultrasound technician said as she moved the wand around inside of me. Clenching my jaw and bunching the medical exam tissue paper beneath me, I did my best to relax. The technician, meanwhile, casually displayed my ovaries on a screen next to us.
I hoped the images of my insides would reveal the mystery of my missing periods. The technician used a digital ruler to measure many black ovals, some over an inch in size. She described them as a string of pearls. Confused, all I could do was make a joke: I didnt imagine my first set of pearls to look like this!
My doctor later looked at the images and my lab work and diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Unlike most people who face a diagnosis with an odd acronym, PCOS was actually on my radar. My mother had suffered from it for decades. So why did it take years to figure out that I had the same thing? In part, it is because our symptoms are entirely different. For her, PCOS explained her extremely heavy periods that left her in crippling pain. But that had never been my problem.
I had so many questions for my doctors: How can my mom and I have the same diagnosis, but diametrically opposing experiences with menstruation? Is there any treatment? Is this the reason Ive been feeling so depressed and anxious? Will I be able to have kids one day?
While I finally had a diagnosis, it was oddly vague. It all left me wondering what, exactly, do I suffer from?
Instead of answering them, my doctor picked up his pen, scribbled some notes and sent me on my way with a prescription for anti-depressants and oral contraceptives. I had no history of clinical depression and in retrospect, the anxiety was probably from the sudden chaos inside me that the diagnoses triggered. As for the birth control pills, he said it was the only treatment for the newly diagnosed syndrome Id been living with for years.
Unsatisfied with his answers (or lack thereof), I emailed my general practitioner to express my concerns. While I was used to him speaking in terse, broken sentences, I expected a bit more guidance. If not sexually active, don't worry about periods for now, he wrote. Enjoy life and use condoms if needed. You should be doing that anyway. Not uncommon for periods to disappear from time to time. Don't lose any sleep over it.
But, of course, I lost a whole lot of it as I spent hours digging to the depths of the internet to research my condition each night. I discovered that there is no single test to definitively diagnose PCOS and there is no universally accepted definition. In fact, the diagnostic criteria have actually expanded in recent years, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. So, while I finally had a diagnosis, it was oddly vague. And because my symptoms were not as extreme as some of my fellow cysters, I felt a sense of shame amid my struggle. It all left me wondering what, exactly, do I suffer from?
Much to my dismay, this wasnt something Google could answer. Though I did learn that PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility, affecting five to 10 percent of women of childbearing age in the United States. Despite the syndromes prevalence, it is regarded as one of the most neglected public health issues. Women with PCOS are more prone to diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart disease, and three times more likely to get endometrial cancer.
Given the stakes, I couldnt believe physicians werent more attuned to the symptoms. I wasnt alone in that sentiment. Surveys show that women with the syndrome have a very high degree of dissatisfaction with their diagnostic experience. In a survey of 1,385 PCOS sufferers from 48 different countrieshalf from the United Statesresearchers at Monash University found that one in three women had suffered for more than two years before receiving a diagnosis. They also went to three or more medical providers with different specialties in the process.
Anti-depressants, metformin, spironolactone, herbal supplements, birth controlyou name it, I tried it. Despite having the correct diagnosis, I never received the right care. That was until my first gynecologist referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist, Sharon Winer.
Anti-depressants, metformin, spironolactone, herbal supplements, birth controlyou name it, I tried it. Despite having the correct diagnosis, I never received the right care.
Dr. Winer spent two hours looking over all my tests and writing down details of my saga. Most importantly, she helped me digest and understand medical terms in a way no other doctor had ever attempted. I learned that my body produced too much testosteronethe male sex hormoneand insulin, the hormone that manages our blood sugar levels. This, in conjunction with my low levels of estrogen, were likely the reason behind my missing period, weight gain and fatigue. I learned that insulin resistance is very much associated with PCOS, even though its not currently one of the diagnostic criteria.
Winer explained that birth control was not the right treatment for me because it was further suppressing my hormones by continuing to switch them off. After careful consideration, she prescribed me Hormone Replacement Therapy, known as HRT, to be taken cyclically to mimic a real menstrual cycle. This is a common menopause treatment, but in my case, the doctor hoped it would wake my endocrine system up and cause it to produce these hormones.
Two months later, I got my first period in four and a half years. It wasnt much, but in a way, it was everything. It proved to me that my body wasnt broken. I weaned off the hormones six months later, only to see my body working as it should. It was capable all along. It just needed the right guidance. I called my mom and we both cried.
After six years, three misdiagnoses, and countless ups and downs, I have finally found a way to manage my symptoms through medication, diet, and exerciseall without surrendering to a one-pill fix. Some people keep track of the miles they run every week, others count calories; for me, the anchor that defines whether Im in good health stems from the monthly rhythm of my menses.
Two years and three months later, I can safely say that tapping the add cycle button on my period tracker phone app never gets old.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Read the rest here:
Solving the Mystery of My Missing Menstruation - ELLE.com
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market 2020 Determined By Manufacturing Summary, Business Profile And Estimate To 2026 - PRnews Leader - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Demand (2020-2026) | Covering Products, Financial Information, Developments, Swot Analysis And Strategies |... - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market 2020 Industry Size, Trends, Global Growth, Insights And Forecast Research Report 2025 - PRnews Leader - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market anticipates revenue will hit up to XX% CAGR by 2026: Segmentation by Revenue, Gross margin, Industrial Analysis,... - October 21st, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market By Manufacturers, Development Strategy, Upcoming Trends and Huge Growth By 2026 - PRnews Leader - October 21st, 2020
- Hammerling-Hodgers: Don't delay if you have any signs of breast cancer - Florida Today - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market to Witness Exponential Growth by 2018 to 2028 - Aerospace Journal - October 21st, 2020
- Exclusive Interview with Dr. Zainab Mogul-Ashraf (Dr. Z) of Hebe Medical Spa - Hudson Valley Style Magazine - October 21st, 2020
- Women's Health Diagnostics Market projected to expand at a CAGR of ~6% from 2019 to 2027 - The Think Curiouser - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market 2020 Global Analysis By Application, End-User, Market Share, Demand, Supply, Technological Trends And Forecast Till... - October 21st, 2020
- US Food and Drug Administration Accepts for Priority Review Applications for OPDIVO (nivolumab) in Combination with CABOMETYX (cabozantinib) in... - October 21st, 2020
- DSEJ organises Webinar on Breast Cancer Disease- Early Detection Saves Lives - India Education Diary - October 21st, 2020
- Having Large Testicles May be linked to Cardiovascular Disease Italian Study Shows - Gilmore Health News - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market Exclusive Report Analysis 2020-2025 - Aerospace Journal - October 21st, 2020
- Anti-Osteoporosis Therapy And Fracture Healing Market to Eyewitness Massive Growth by 2028: Novartis, Johnson and Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Roche... - October 21st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Research Conclusions|Business Plans|Strategies with Forecast 20 - PharmiWeb.com - October 17th, 2020
- Davina McCall spoke candidly about her experience of perimenopause and HRT on Loose Women - goodhousekeeping.com - October 17th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Report 2019 with Key Players, Regions, Trends, Market Growth, SWOT Analysis and Forecast to 2026 - PRnews Leader - October 17th, 2020
- Schedule Your Breast Cancer Screening this Month - raccoonvalleyradio.com - October 17th, 2020
- World Menopause Day: 5 must have products to cure hormonal imbalance - India Today - October 17th, 2020
- Earlier pubertal timing predicts higher psychosexuality in adulthood - PsyPost - October 17th, 2020
- The News Journal 5 things you can start doing now to help reduce your risk of breast cancer - The News Journal - October 17th, 2020
- UMass Amherst Recognized as a Top LGBTQ-Friendly Campus for 10th Consecutive Year - UMass News and Media Relations - October 17th, 2020
- Extensive new medi-wellness resort, RAKxa, will offer complete blueprint of health in Bangkok's 'Green Lung' - Spa Business - October 17th, 2020
- Raising awareness of menopause, what it is and why you arent alone - Brighton & Hove Independent - October 17th, 2020
- One key to improving medical care:... - Kirkland Reporter - October 17th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Size 2020, Production, Share, Revenue, Analysis and Innovative Revolution and Forecast Report to 2026 -... - October 17th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Size, Key Trends, Challenges and Standardization, Research, Key Players with COVID 19 Impact Analysis and... - October 7th, 2020
- Message to Rep. Wes Allen: HB1 is an attack on transgendered youths and parental rights - Montgomery Advertiser - October 7th, 2020
- Shoptalk: Parent company to temporarily close Edwards Grand Teton theater - Post Register - October 7th, 2020
- Press A, Be Gay: LGBTQ Representation in Video Games - QNotes - October 7th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Industry Key Drivers, Business Insights And Forecast 2024 | F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Merck Serono, Novartis - uco360.com - October 7th, 2020
- So where is our land? Where is the space for us? - Mail and Guardian - October 7th, 2020
- Sex and Menopause, According to a Neuroscientist - Glamour - October 7th, 2020
- Your Health Is on the Ballot: Why You Should Vote for Science in the 2020 Presidential Election - Prevention.com - October 7th, 2020
- Hormone therapy is an option to treat breast cancer - Hamilton Journal News - October 3rd, 2020
- Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Solid Analyzed Segmentation, Demand, Recent Share Estimation and Growth Prospects by Regions to 2022... - October 3rd, 2020
- COVID-19 Impact: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market | Strategic Industry Evolutionary Analysis Focus on Leading Key Players and Revenue Growth... - October 3rd, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy market size was US$ 15950 million and it is expected to reach US$ 17720 million by the end of 2026, with a CAGR of 1.5% -... - October 3rd, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Tablets Market Covid 19 Overview:Demand Analysis & Growth Opportunities By 2019-2026||ALLERGAN, Novo... - October 3rd, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market: Technological Advancement & Growth Analysis with Forecast to 2025 - The Daily Chronicle - October 1st, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market - Quantitative Analysis, Current and Future Trends, 2018 to 2028 - The Market Records - October 1st, 2020
- Hormone replacement therapy market- factors responsible for driving or restraining the market - Credence Turbine - October 1st, 2020
- In the Business of Beautifying Hudson Valley, One Face at a Time Hebe Medical Spa in Fishkill, NY - Hudson Valley Style Magazine - October 1st, 2020
- The HER2 Testing market to Transcend the Covid-19 Barrier from 2021 onwards - The Market Records - October 1st, 2020
- Hormone therapy is an option to treat breast cancer - The Albany Herald - September 30th, 2020
- Comprehensive Report on Hormone Replacement Therapy Market 2020 | Size, Growth, Demand, Opportunities & Forecast To 2026 | Mithra Pharmaceuticals,... - September 30th, 2020
- Why Some Experts Say Cannabis Is Effective in Treating Menopause - Healthline - September 30th, 2020
- Ascendis Pharma A/S Announces Preliminary Six-Month Data from Open-Label Extension of Phase 2 PaTH Forward Trial and Files IND Amendment to Initiate... - September 30th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market to Witness Robust Expansion Throughout the Forecast Period 2019 - 2024 - The Market Records - September 30th, 2020
- Medical profession cares little for women with early onset menopause - The Independent - September 30th, 2020
- Trans youth are less likely to have suicidal thoughts with early care - Insider - INSIDER - September 30th, 2020
- Menopausal Women May Be Able To Give Birth After Blood Plasma Injections - Anti Aging News - September 30th, 2020
- Genomics Market to Rise at 19.5% CAGR and Reach USD 82.60 Billion by 2027; Advances in Diagnostic Applications will Lead to a Wider Product Adoption,... - September 30th, 2020
- Relationship of breastfeeding duration with joint pain and knee osteoarthritis in middle-aged Korean women: a cross-sectional study using the Korea... - September 30th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market is Set for Lucrative Growth During 20202026 Zion Market Research - The Daily Chronicle - September 28th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market 2019 Services, Demand, Size, Growth Trends, Business Opportunities, Industry Analysis, Top Players &... - September 28th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Size is Thriving worldwide with Topmost Keyplayer Like:Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AbbVie, Novo Nordisk, Merck KGaA - Weekly... - September 28th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market share forecast to witness considerable growth from 2020 to 2025 | By Top Leading Vendors F. Hoffmann-La Roche,... - September 28th, 2020
- Everything You Need To Know About Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis - NDTV Doctor - September 28th, 2020
- New Detailed Information: Hormone Replacement Therapy Market By Global Trends, Business Growth, And Forecasts 2026 | Covid19 Impact Analysis | Key... - September 22nd, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy Market has Huge Impact in Industry 2020 2026 - Verdant News - September 22nd, 2020
- Dar Bioscience Receives $0.9 million Under the Current Grant - BioSpace - September 22nd, 2020
- Early menopause puts women at 'significantly' higher risk of depression, study finds - TheSpec.com - September 22nd, 2020
- Does HRT affect the duration of hot flashes? - The Bethel Citizen - September 18th, 2020
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market-Segment Market Trends, Analysis and Forecast 2019 2023 - Scientect - September 18th, 2020
- Dyspareunia: What Causes Pain During Sex and How Can it Be Prevented? - News18 - September 18th, 2020
- Predictive Analytics in Healthcare Market Growth Rate, Demands, Status and Application Forecast to 2026 - AlgosOnline - September 18th, 2020
- Isle of Wight author calling on NHS to offer 'pain-free' cancer treatment option - Isle of Wight County Press - September 18th, 2020
- Dr. Roach: Does HRT affect the duration of hot flashes? - The Detroit News - September 15th, 2020
- Assessing the COVID-19 Effect: Hormone Replacement Therapy Production Moderately Disrupted by Labor Shortages of Labor in Pandemic, Says Fact.MR - The... - September 15th, 2020
- Impact Of Covid-19: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Market Share, Growth, Demand, Trends, Region Wise Analysis Of Top Players And Forecasts |Abbott... - September 15th, 2020
- The Chronicle of the Horse - The Chronicle of the Horse - September 15th, 2020
- Does HRT affect the duration of hot flashes? - Hays Daily News - September 12th, 2020
- Latest Study explores the Pharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing and Contract Market Witness Highest Growth in near future - The Market Chronicles - September 12th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market Research Report Contains Key Players, Industry Overview, Supply Chain, Analysis and Forecast to 2020-2025 -... - September 12th, 2020
- The office is still in the closet - Bangalore Mirror - September 12th, 2020
- Shannon Medical Center offers new option for hormone replacement therapy - Standard-Times - September 11th, 2020
- Convalescent Plasma: What We Still Need to Know - Columbia University Irving Medical Center - September 11th, 2020
- Global Hormone Replacement Therapy Market: Industry Development Scenario and Forecast to 2027 - The Daily Chronicle - September 11th, 2020