Ebbing Tide: Reflections on Entering Menopause

featurepics-1C02379E-A84D-41B7-9BDD-01A70899C16F(2)My eleven-year-old daughter, my youngest child, is losing her little girl look. In the last six months she’s sprouted out of her jeans and shirts, her legs suddenly long, her angles and straight lines softening into curves. She closes the door when she showers, asks me when she can start shaving her legs, and wears a training bra. She’s on the cusp of young womanhood, that moon sliver of time between childhood and adolescence. And I know it won’t be long until her cycle begins and she joins the age-old club.

I was fourteen when I started my period, the last of my group. At slumber parties, in whispers late at night, my friends lamented the discomfort of cramps, laughed over using tampons for the first time, and shared horror stories—a tell-tale red stain on the back of a skirt, an empty pad dispenser in a public bathroom—while I listened in silence and embarrassment, still an outsider. When my period finally started one night at mutual, I couldn’t wait to tell my mother when I got home, feeling shy and proud and relieved and thrilled. She retrieved the supplies she’d been saving for me in her bathroom cupboard—bulky Kotex pads and a sanitary belt (in those days before adhesive pads)—which I excitedly put on.

At school the next day I carried around my secret, my belt and pad my hidden reminders of my new womanhood. For months, each sloughing off of the uterine lining was a miraculous sign that I had matured, that my body could one day create and nourish life. Of course, the novelty eventually wore off, and my period became just another annoyance to be shared with girlfriends and roommates. Like every girl, I had the occasional accident (thank goodness for the handy sweatshirt that could be tied around the waist) and my share of comedic mishaps—used pads ending up in the mouth of the family dog, a tampon accidentally flung across the room while I retrieved something from my purse. And like every girl, long before I reached my twenties, I hardly thought about my period at all.

Until I got married, when menstruation suddenly took on renewed significance. Not only did it become part of the new intimacy my husband and I shared and a mystery for my husband to unravel, but now my cycle was finally fulfilling its purpose: I might actually GET PREGNANT. Three months after I married, I missed my period for the very first time, and this time the absence of blood was the miracle—a sign of a new life budding inside me, a tiny, vast, unfathomable secret I now carried around. Through my childbearing years I became more attuned to my cycle; I learned to read the signs of ovulation and the hormonal waning down to menstruation, and I could count on my period to start every twenty-seven days. A day or two late and I’d be excited or worried, depending on whether I wanted to be pregnant. But always, the monthly bleeding was tangible evidence of my womanhood, a comforting reminder of possibility.

Three weeks ago, at a routine checkup, I mentioned to my doctor that I hadn’t had a real period in over eight months. After years of perimenopause, which started for me at around age forty-two, I’d become used to irregular but heavy periods, hot flashes, and irritability; but I could sense that my cycle was winding down even more. A few days later a blood test confirmed that, at forty-nine, I’m officially entering menopause. Menopause. And just like that, it seems, my years of menstruating are over. Though I really feel no different inside than I did when I was forty-two, or thirty-two—or fourteen, for that matter—I have changed in some essential way. The monthly reminder is gone, my fertility ebbed away to nothing, and I’ve come back to the beginning: no red monthly stain. And although I’m not exactly sorry to see my periods end, I’m mourning the loss of something.

Meanwhile, my daughter runs on the soccer field, lithe and long-legged, long brown hair flying behind her. She bounces into the kitchen after school, teases her older brother, chatters about her day, as the miracle inside her just begins to unfold. She’s my half-sprite, my almost-woman child. At night I smooth her hair out on the pillow as I tuck her in, and she says, “I don’t want to grow up.” On her face is worry, a tinge of fear.

“Hush, my daughter,” I say, smiling, stroking her fine hair and cupping her sweet face. “Growing into a woman is a wonderful thing. Just you wait and see.”

How did you feel when you first started your period? How have you/can you prepare your daughter for this milestone? Do you think you will miss menstruation after you go through menopause? And, those of you who have already gone through menopause, what has it been like for you? Has menopause changed you? And do you have any wisdom/tips to share with the rest of us who are just beginning this new phase?

About Melissa M

(Advisory Board) grew up in Australia and California and now lives in Provo, Utah with her husband, four children, and their dog, Daisy. She served a mission in Peru and has a BA and MA in English from BYU. She loves reading, writing, and quiet afternoons. She does not love grocery shopping. Now that two of her children attend BYU and her youngest children are in high school and junior high, she is trying to adjust to this "emptying nest" stage and still wondering how it snuck up on her so fast.

43 thoughts on “Ebbing Tide: Reflections on Entering Menopause

  1. I also didn’t start till I was fourteen-at girl’s camp! It was a good place to start, since everyone there was sympathetic. But I think it I missed out on connecting with my mom by not being home. I like how you ask how to teach our daughters. So far I just try to be open about what I’m experiencing so it won’t be a huge mystery.

    I’m glad to hear it’s not unusual to think you’d miss your period. I had that thought recently as I was told by the dr. that the iud would stop my period. And then I thought: what! why would I miss it! (but it’s been two weeks and I’m still using up all the pads–thankful for adhesive!)

    I was always very irregular, usually skipping summers entirely when I was a teenager. I didn’t have it for the first nine months of my mission. Then it was kind of regular: about forty to fifty days apart. So as you might guess, once I got married we had a hard time getting pregnant. It took us fourteen months-heartache and sadness-and fertility drugs to finally have our first.

    Not until I started doing yoga regularly did I have a regular cycle. It still took almost three years of trying to have my next two kids. Then six and two years. (these all coincided with a move).

    I’m forty-two now. I recently gave birth to my fifth child by c-section, thus the iud placement since the dr. said I shouldn’t get pregnant for at least a year.

    We women have this little secret that binds us together, and gives us pain and makes us weirdly emotionally (pass the chocolate!) yet gives us the amazing power to bring life into the world.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and letting me share mine.

  2. Oh, this is timely. My 9 year old is getting those buds–I’m always telling her she needs a t-shirt. But I resist a training bra, not willing yet to put her on that path. She’s way too young yet emotionally. And menopause runs early in my family, before 40. I’ve been in perimenopause for several years. (I’m 40).
    I was always a 31-day girl. Now, it’s 14, 21, or 48 days. My dr started me on synthroid, but it hasn’t made much difference.
    While I don’t necessarily look forward to menopause, I do wish I could go back to a ‘regular’ schedule–either having them, or not. For me, the issue is about whether I’ll go the hormone route. At this age, which is relatively young, it seems like a good idea to take something. But I watched my mom for 20 years take them and not take them, back and forth. And the science about is ever-changing. Is taking hormones good for me, or an attempt to push away from the crone archetype? I just don’t see myself as quite there yet.

  3. Sage—interesting that yoga helped regulate your period. And yes, I like the way you put it—”We women have this little secret that binds us together”—so true!

    elizabeth-w—That whole hormone replacement issue is something I’d like to know more about, as well. I wish I knew what to do. I hope some of you more experienced readers will chime in with your advice and experience…..

  4. This almost made me cry! My daughter got her first period this week. She’s fourteen as well; pretty late considering how early girls are maturing these days (I started mine when I was 12.)

    At the same time, it makes me sad that I won’t be having any more babies and that menopause is just a few years away for me too. I also found three grey hairs this week and I’m wondering who pressed the fast forward button on my life.

  5. My daughter recently had her first period. She was excited but at age 12 has no idea really of how much it will become a part of her life. I am very matter of fact about it all, and sanitary towels are often left out in the bathroom. We had talked lots about it, I had shown her how to put one on and how to fold it away again to dispose of. I think it should not be a mystery or something to be ashamed of. When I began at 11 I thought I was dying as I had no idea about anything.

    I am nearly 45 and I thought I was in the perimenopause, maybe I was. My very regular periods went haywire over a year, sometimes lasting 2 weeks, sometimes 3 days, coming too often and surprising me. Now I know I am not in that phase because I am 11 weeks pregnant and next year will become the oldest mother I know by a long way. Funny how life works out.

  6. Valentines Day, 13-years old, and living with my single father.

    Embarrassment doesn’t even begin to cover it!

    I knocked on his bedroom door and said, “Dad,” in such a shaky voice that he said, “Did you start your period?”

    “Yes.”

    “Um,er,okay. We’ll go to the store in a while.”

    End of discussion.

    We never spoke about it again till I was sixteen and we fought about whether or not you can swim in pads. Haha. I won that argument and he made a quick trip to the store to buy tampons.

    I don’t think I’ll miss it, but right now I’m grateful for it’s function in allowing me to procreate.
    I just miscarried so I’m grateful that I get another shot next month!

  7. I wish I could have comforting, happy thoughts about menstruation, but after years and years of infertility, what it represents to me is much different than what it represents to other women. At this point, it’s just life. I’m not caught up in the grief and pain that every period used to bring. But there is definitely no warm and fuzzy, “wonderful sign of womanhood” mentality going on. I don’t know how I’ll feel at menopause. Possibly relieved that a certain chapter of my life will be over? Or perhaps I’ll grieve heavily what will at that point never, ever be. Who knows?

    I’d liked to give my daughter (adopted) a good, healthy, positive view of menstruation… but that’s still a number of years of healing down the road.

  8. I started my periods a month before I turned twelve and had my last one a month after I turned 53 (five years ago). The best thing my mother taught me was on the day I came home from school because of bad cramps. I thought she would by understanding, and she was, to a point, but she didn’t let me stay home. She gave me two Exedrin and sent me back to school, after giving me a short lecture about how periods (and pain) are just part of life and I would miss out on a lot if I let them stand in my way. She also made it clear to me that if I took time off for cramps I would only encourage the stereotype of the weak female and I would never be able to stand my ground with the men. It was advice that served me well over the years and I passed it on to my own three daughters.

  9. Now that I’m a year and half into menopause (I’m almost 52) I think it’s great! The hot flashes are annoying and I won’t do hormone replacement because I have breast cancer in my family. But honestly, I’ll take the hot flashes over the PMS. I hated feeling ornery those days every month; I feel a lot more mellow and easygoing now and I like that.

  10. Oh, and I forgot to add–perimenopause has brought something I not-so-lovingly refer to as “the sluggish uterus”. As in, a period used to come and go within 3 days. Now, it tries to start, then changes its mind, then starts in earnest, lasts several days, and then takes another week to, um, drain out. Seriously. It can last a couple weeks. Blech. I’ve used more pantiliners in the past 2 years than the previous 20.

    CatherineW-my mom did the exact same thing, minus the weak female part. There have been studies done about attitudes mothers pass to their daughters. Woe is me mothers produce much crampier, more emotionally labile daughters.

  11. I didn’t start until I was 14 either, at the very end of 8th grade and after all my friends. I didn’t really tell my mom; I had a paper route so I just bought my own supplies. For some reason when I was a teenager I didn’t talk to my mom very much about anything and I felt embarrassed about my periods. Especially because for the first few years they were very unpredictable and very, very heavy. I used to stay home from school for the first day or two because I would be running to the bathroom all the time and I just felt horrible. I’m sure my mom knew why I was home ‘sick’ but we never really talked about it.

    Thankfully after a few years things evened out quite a bit and now that I’m 31 it’s just become a normal part of my life. It’s still a while before my daughter gets there, but I’m hoping we have the kind of relationship that is closer and so we can talk about it when it happens. I hope she has more support than I had (although that was mostly my fault and not my mom’s). To be honest, I do look forward to menopause a bit. I’m pregnant with my third and we know we’re totally done, so it will be at least another 10 years or so before my cycle goes away. I do wonder sometimes if I will miss it, but maybe not.

  12. Thanks to those of you who have shared your experiences. One thing that has struck me is how important it is to prepare our daughters for menstruation and how our attitudes towards it can shape theirs. FoxyJ, how sad that you didn’t feel comfortable enough to talk to your mother when you started your period. Hopefully we’ve come a long way since then, and our girls feel differently. I think it would be a very lonely experience to start your period for the first time and not have a mother or another woman to talk to—al, I bet it was hard.

    A few other thoughts—Jennie, I feel the same way—who pressed the fast forward button?

    Kay, I had to laugh at your situation. I worried all the time that I might be pregnant when I was in perimenopause because my periods were so irregular—I think I singlehandedly kept the pregnancy test companies in business. But, if I had gotten pregnant, I know I would have come to see it as a blessing. Congratulations—a baby at 45 is a wonderful miracle, indeed.

    eljee—I know that for women who struggle with infertility, having a monthly period is a disappointment and a painful reminder of what isn’t. I should have acknowledged that in my original post and I apologize. My heart goes out to you!

    CatherineWO, I think your mother was wise.

    Janet, the interesting thing with me is that I had terrible hot flashes for months at a time until about eight months ago, when I stopped having periods altogether (except for some occasional bouts of spotting). Now I don’t have hot flashes at all, and I hope they’re gone for good.

    elizabeth-w, I know what you mean about the “sluggish uterus”—so annoying! That’s a good name for it. None of this perimenopause stuff is very pleasant, is it?

  13. This made me think of the ultrasound my doctor ordered for a reason I can’t remember. The thing that made it so poignant was the picture of the emptiness inside that would never be filled. It made me feel lonely for those little ones that are now in the midst of child bearing and rearing. I almost wished I could go back.

  14. I was 14 when I had my first period. It was homecoming week at school and I had no idea that I had even started my period. I had to borrow a pad from a senior girl that was in band with me. I don’t even remember talking to my mother about it. My body was slow to develop and I was terribly flat for a long time. Then my breasts developed so rapidly that I had stretch marks. Either way, it was painful. It was embarrasing to be teased about my lack of a chest and then later to be noticed for my abundant chest.

    I truthfully haven’t come to terms with having a period. It isn’t something that I’ve rejoiced in, for it signaled to me all the pain and difficulty that comes with being a woman. It is awkward, painful and messy. The hormones changes and depression that have always accompanied my period have also been difficult.

    I was always pretty regular and lack of a period always meant that I was pregnant–except for my last pregnancy. I didn’t even know I was pregnant, because I kept having a regular period for the first trimester.

  15. Catherine, I’m so glad you shared that about your mother. I have a daughter who is 10, and we have been talking about the changes coming in her future. I love the attitude your mother had, and I’m going to be careful to follow it!

  16. When I was 48 I was on a three-day river rafting trip down the Grand Canyon for my youngest child’s senior family adventure. A couple older women in the group had been “tricked” by their husbands into coming on the trip and they whined constantly about all the inconveniences of camping in the Grand Canyon. It was April and the canyon was still lush and green from the heavy rainfall that winter; I couldn’t believe anyone could complain about such beauty. So they didn’t really like me, because I was happy to be there and they only wanted to have a pity party because they had to use the river for their bathroom. At the end of the second day, I suddenly got my period in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It was the first trip of the year and the guides had forgotten to restock their emergency female hygiene products. I hadn’t brought any supplies because I hadn’t had a period in 7 months and what were the odds of suddenly having a period in the bottom of the Grand Canyon? In a moment of desperation, I had to confide in the whiny women. They each gave me an old kitchen towel to use and we all instantly became best friends because we were now sisters in misery. I’ll never forget that beautiful moment of female bonding! It also made me have more compassion for my pioneer ancesters…

  17. I was 18 when I started, it was less than a week after exploratory surgery to make sure I even had a uterus. After so long of waiting and wishing to join the ranks of women, and then starting to come to terms with the fact that I may never have children I felt it was a miracle. I admit I cried a little, then I bought myself a snickers bar and went back to class.

  18. Kristin, your story brought a little lump to my throat. I can only imagine how hard it was to go all those years, wondering and waiting.

    Claudia—yes, there’s certainly a poignancy associated with this rite of passage.

    LDS lady, thanks for the link. I’ll have to check it out.

    Tiffany W., it sounds like you got off to a rough start. And yes, that monthly hormonal cycle certainly has its drawbacks. There are parts of menstruation that I definitely won’t miss.

    Kathryn P., that sounds like a nightmare! Isn’t perimenopause grand? :)

    Thanks, ladies, for your comments!

  19. This was so great to read. I love that more women are taking control of what we teach our girls. My daughters are almost 9, and 2. My eldest is extremly tall, and developed for someone her age, and I am always joking that by the time she is 10, she will be taller then me.
    I hope that I can keep as calm when her time comes, as my mom was with me. She sent my dad to the store, and then told me that it was ok, and that it was no big deal, because Heavenly Father had designed our bodies to do this.
    I do remember after getting married, being a little freaked out by the fact that now the real reason my body did what it did every month, was a reality! Having been adopted, and my mother started menopause before I arrived, I was the first person in our house to be fertile in many years. I had never thought about the “Why’s” until I was faced with the actuallity of starting my own family. (for some reason, I just assumed I would be adopting. Weird)
    10 years, 6 pregnacies, and 4 babies later, after enduring Depo shots where I had no period and no personality, pill after pill complete with crazed mood swings and then an IUD that made me completly period free, but gave me a lovely side effect that resulted in brain surgery, I am finally happy again when I get my period!

  20. Kshaw, I would like to know more about IUD’s having an effect on the brain that in your case required surgery. I’ve never hear that but it causes me some concern.

    I’ve had one for the last 3.25 years and have loved the side effects. Little or no periods and little or no cramping. I still ovulate and so still have to work around the different emotional states that I find myself in each month. Not having much if any of a period made my moods perplexing for a time. Before the IUD I would always count its arrival a relief. I would start to see my husband and children and pretty much the entire world through olive green glasses. When it would arrive a day or two later I would have a “Well that explains a lot”, kind of moment. To know that the world was really not that hue and the people in it were really not that annoying, that it was just hormonal, that was a good thing and a great relief.

    I would like to know generally about your experience if you felt comfortable sharing. So far myself I have thought the IUD wonderful. After six children, I am pretty certain that our family is done, (I don’t claim to know the mind of the Lord) but it was a way I could make that decision while still be open to further revelation or instruction should it be revealed to me.

    My family carries the BRCA 1 gene. There is a 25 percent chance that I carry it (I have yet to be tested just one more thing on my list). If I do carry it in the future choosing to have my ovaries electively removed throwing me into premature menopause will be a decision I will need to face.

    Even though I feel like my family is complete and would certainly be by that time, should I decide to pursue that course, I think I would mourn the loss of my ovaries. Something about their potential loss fills me with a special kind of sadness.

    I have two aunts that have recently undergone elective removal of their ovaries and breasts because of their extremely increased risk of cancer due to this gene. One of which who has already gone though ovarian cancer.

    Anyway this life giving gift or the lack thereof and all that is attached to it is a complicated thing. I guess mortality is complicated but being a woman in morality seems to have a special kind of complicated.

    When one of my aunts was recovering from her elective mastectomy and was much in my thoughts and prayers I had a dream that I found out that I did carry the BRCA 1 gene. I had decided to go through with the surgeries. I had first elected to have the mastectomy. In the dream I had a farewell to boobies party. I invited all my women friends over and we had all kinds of breast themed games and refreshments. We laughed and cried together. It was kind of a silly dream but I think if I was faced with the reality of that decision I would laugh and cry about it. I am grateful to be a woman, but it is so complicated, even in my dreams.

  21. I was about a year younger than everyone in my school class, so Mom had “The Talk” with me long before I needed it, and I also had girlfriends reach menarche ahead of me. I was 11.5 when my cycle started, early one Friday morning in the spring, and I was more annoyed than anything.

    I trudged downstairs and said, “Mother, I started.”

    She patted my shoulder and said, very dryly, “Welcome to womanhood. Supplies are in the box under the sink.”

    I trotted off to our half-day of school, came home at noon and said, “There has to be a less disgusting way to deal with this.”

    She smiled and said, “SMALL box under the sink. Instructions are included.”

    Fast forward about 15 years, and she called me one day to gloat: “My doctor says I’m officially menopaused! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha ha!”

    I look forward to menopause a lot, actually, just as I really enjoy being pregnant. Taking a break from the monthly “can’t leave the house because I’m going to bleed to death” routine is a joy to me. Unfortunately, that first period was the only one that was relatively agony-free; all the rest have come with lousy side effects that make me want to kick Mother Eve right in the shins when I meet her in Heaven. Fortunately, I have a really lovely husband who runs out to buy more ultra-heavy-mega tampons without a blush, and comes back with heavy duty painkillers, dark chocolate, and broccoli, and doesn’t expect much of me beyond sleeping for the first 48 hours. I don’t consider it “weak” to hole up for awhile… I was only at the hospital for 30 minutes before the birth of our first, because I was sure I wasn’t in labor… I was at 8cm before the contractions got worse than my menstrual cramps.

    Our oldest started within the last year or so; she’s got a healthy amount of being private about it, but is also fine with letting us know she needs a re-stock on supplies, and so far, she’s had no problems with the miserable bits.

  22. My menstrual cycle started when I was 14, and my reaction was somewhat of relief and somewhat of annoyance. I had started to wonder if my cycle would ever begin, yet I really didn’t want to deal with the bleeding.

    Since then I’ve gone from minor annoyance to outright dislike of my period. I’ve had years where my period is enormously erratic, and other years where it’s predictable. Each year since I was 14 my cramps and pains have grown worse and worse to the point of putting me out of commission for four to six hours a month. I can recite the max dosage of all my pain killers and rarely deviate from the chemical cocktail I stuff into my system to get through my cycle and through midmonth.

    Finally, I’ve reached a stage in life where I could afford to purchase birth control. It has its own side effects, but now my cycle behaves itself. The cramps still hurt, but usually a small dose of OTC painkiller does the trick. Its a huge blessing to be able to finally control my cycle rather than to be controlled by it.

    It should be interesting in the decades to come to see how my attitudes shift through pregnancy to menopause.

  23. al –
    I’m sorry for your miscarriage! God bless you!
    With Love,
    One who has travelled that path, too

  24. I was 12 years old at a family reunion the day I unexpectedly started. There were two other people, including my mother, in the bathroom with me when I said, “Umm, I think I just started my period.” My grandfather, a doctor, announced it to the entire family — aunts, uncles, cousins. Mortifying. Everyone was going to a hot springs that day, and I was determined not be left out, so wore a tampon right from the beginning.

    Starting with that first one, periods have always been maddening for me. Maddening then because I started before everyone I knew, and because I didn’t want it. Maddening later because of the cramps and the mess. Maddening now because as a 30-something single woman, each period is a reminder that my fertile years are slipping away, and that now one more egg will never fill the measure of its creation. Last month, on the day I started bleeding, I flushed my toilet, sat on the floor and cried, feeling that I had just flushed another child away. Feeling helpless that I have this machinery that apparently works but just marches on without me, and I am somehow powerless to slow it down and barred in other ways (yes, my choices to live the law of chastity) from using it for what it was intended.

    I hope by saying this that I do not minimize the real losses of those who have miscarried an actual child. But I also grieve. And right now my menstrual periods are reminders of the things I grieve. I suppose I could also view them as markers of hope, of reminders of the capability and possibility for future children that still lives on in me. That would clearly be a healthier response.

    But for now, menopause terrifies me.

  25. We had a party when my daughter started menstruating. A bit ole’ “Welcome-to-the-grand-sisterhood-of-all-women!” party. Just the two of us. We’d talked about it for months, and my daughter couldn’t wait for that first tell-tale sign that she was now a woman. We sent dad and the boys off to a movie, then she and I snuggled up in my bed and ate chocolate and watched old Audrey Hepburn movies.

    I’m actually looking forward to menopause. My aunt promised me that my migraines would go away once I “went through the change.” I’m holding her to that.

  26. Allie, that was such a poignant comment—thank you for sharing those tender feelings. I remember feeling similar grief when I was single and wasn’t getting married as soon as I’d hoped. I have a good friend who didn’t marry until she was 37. She found out shortly after her 20-year high school reunion that she was pregnant, and had her first baby at 39, and her second at 41. She never got over her delight in becoming a mother late in the game, and I learned that life often surprises us in wonderful ways. I hope your future has some wonderful surprises in store for you.

  27. Sharlee, I think that’s a wonderful idea, and I’m going to use it with my daughter. :)

    Liz C and jtg, I can’t imagine having cramps that bad! I must admit I’ve been spoiled in that department. I’m guessing I wouldn’t be feeling as conflicted about menopause as I do if my periods had been that uncomfortable. And Liz C, I enjoyed your “first time” story—I love your mother’s no nonsense and matter-of-fact approach.

    And Dovie, I hope all turns out well for you with the BRCA 1 gene testing. And you are right—being a woman is certainly complicated.

  28. I was 13. My mom wasn’t much into conversations in any way related to sexuality, so all she said was, “well, welcome to the world.” Which confirmed my suspicion that getting my period would be a major drag.

    I hated my period for many years because I only got it every couple months or every few months, so it always took me by surprise and made a mess.

    It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s and wanted to have a baby that I gained an affection for Aunt Flo.

  29. My mom was no help at all. I never got a sex talk, never got a period talk, she never even bought me supplies. She did buy me a bra. But she put it in my room in a shopping bag when I was not around. I found it there and put it on. How does a person get so paralyzed and uncomfortable around their own daughter? I don’t know. I am trying to do better with my kids.

    One thing I will say for the stand-offish approach, although I was painfully uninformed, I was also never embarrassed and have always “owned” these matters for myself. I figured things out and made my own way through. Maybe she always knew that I would. Maybe she thought she was doing the best thing by staying out of it… But I think it was a huge tradeoff in mother-daughter closeness. I’m not doing it that way with my girls.

  30. started at 14. eight children later and now 56 it’s been seven months since my last period. the last few years have been heavy cycles every three weeks lasting at least a week. i used to wear an adult diaper so i could sleep and not wake up in a mess. have i missed it the last seven months…heck no! i’m thankful for the break.

    my mother gave me a booklet to read and a little kit of supplies long before i ever started. i was the oldest in the family and this was just the right amount of attention for me.

    my four girls each were celebrated as they started their cycle.

    all in all the menopause phase has been smooth and interesting. no hormones, but the more natural my diet is the better i do.

  31. Poetic. I wish I were poetic. ““Hush, my daughter,” I say, smiling, stroking her fine hair and cupping her sweet face. “Growing into a woman is a wonderful thing. Just you wait and see.”” I wish my mom had said that to me. I hope I can say something like that to my daughters. It’ll be a while, they are 5 and 2 years-old.

    I loved the commenter who said her husband bought the super ultra sanitary items plus chocolate for her. That’s how periods should be!

    I grew up in Hawaii and learned that in ancient Hawaii, the women were “banished” (for lack of a better word–I’m not the poetic one, remember?) to a certain hut in the village for the duration of their they had their periods. For a long time after learning this I thought of the Hawaiian culture as being anti-feminist. But lately have decided that it wouldn’t be such bad thing being told I had to go away for 5 to 7 days a month. Imagine having a period in peace, no changing diapers, sending fighting kids to timeouts, no cooking, no cleaning, etc.

  32. Dovie,
    I had the Mirena IUD for almost 2 years, getting it 6 weeks after my littlest was born. About 6 months after getting it placed, I started feeling dizzy and nauseous. I thought perhaps I was pregnant, but went to the doc and he told me that these could be normal side effects, and they would go away. Soon after that, I was falling down, and feeling very weak, and started getting blinding headaches.The vertigo was awful, and I had loud ringing in my ears. (I have had migraines in the past, but these were different)I went to an ENT and he told me I either had a tumor in my brain, or Miener’s disease. After moving to a new town, I had loss of vision in my left eye, and panicing, I called my Optometrist. He examined me, and told me that what I had was most likely had was Pseudo Tumor Cerebri. My optic nerves were swelling,and getting pinched, due to excessive cerebral fluid, causing the headaches and vision distortion. (Fuzzies, black spots and blurry spots) After being referred to a Neurologist who told me there was nothing wrong with me, and having doctor after doctor brush me off, I finally got my Optometrist to get on the phone with UC Davis hospital, where he was able to get ahold of an Neuro Opthammologist who is experienced with this particular disorder. They admitted me that day which was 6 months after I started feeling funky. (yup, one year of feeling like crud!)
    When I was admitted, they did and MRI and then a spinal tap. I had so much extra fluid that when the doc put the needle in, we actually heard the pop, and it sprayed out the tube all over me and the tech! (yeah that was fun!) I got immediate relief from the headache I had, and my eyes cleared up almost instantly. I then got sent back to my room, where I then got a low level headache from them removing too much fluid.
    After a few more procedures, and another spinal tap, they sent me home, to come back for a Venagram to check the veins in my head to ensure there was no blockages.
    Some more rigamoraole later, I was finally admitted to have a shunt placed in my head on June 8th 2009.
    After doing more research, I finally decided to have my IUD removed, because I was still having headaches, and feeling nauseous every day. Within 2 days of it being gone, I had more energy, no more headaches, no feeling barfy. It was almost like night and day. I truly wonder, that if I had never had it inserted, if I wouldn’t have had to go through this illness. I have had it out since September, and I am finally feeling like I did prior to getting sick. I am however having to deal with the aftermath of having a shunt in my head, and tubing winding its way through my body. (It likes to move and cause sharp stabbing pain in my side)
    In a related instance, my Sister-in-law had the same IUD, and found herself completly breaking down, and was even suicidal (something she would never have been without it in) When it was removed, she went back to normal!
    I wonder what we are doing to our bodies, with the hormones and pills, and fun stuff we put in them. I do understand that some women do need them, and without birthcontrol pills, IUD’s and shots, there would be even more unwanted pregnancies. But I thnk sometimes, that we need to stop putting so much crud into our bodies, and just look after them!
    The hormones that are in the IUD (low dose estrogen) that I had may have triggered my body to over produce cerebral fluid, which led to the Pseudo Tumor Cerebri.

  33. Kshaw, how scary!

    I’ve avoided all the hormonal bc options (migraine triggers, all), and am allergic to the ingredients or mechanics of all the other artificial methods… luckily, though my cycle is vicious, and I look forward to being done in my early 50s (or sooner!!), it’s been monotonously regular, so natural family planning has been quite easy for us. Takes a little self-control, but it works!

    My mother and aunts have all accomplished “The Change”–they’ve shared that the annoyances and discomforts are workable, and they’re all enjoying the new phase of their lives, so I’m encouraged!

  34. Kshaw, thank you for sharing your story—I’d never heard of these possible side effects of using an IUD before, so I found it very interesting. And I’m glad you’re feeling better now.

    I’m amazed at the stories some of you have told about receiving no help from your mothers in preparing for menstruation. Is this a generational thing, I wonder? I hope we’re doing a better job! I love the idea of celebrating our daughters’ starting of their periods—so much better than no information at all, or a cursory, “Welcome to the world.”

    And I’m happy to hear that many women are enjoying menopause—that gives me hope. :)

  35. Melissa,my mother, your grandmother, answered all my questions and provided me with everything I needed. But I was the last one in my group of friends to start, and they all knew it and would tease me about it. So when I did start, at almost age 14, I didn’t tell them for awhile. No pain the first time. The 2nd time though I was worried that I had had one period and would never have another one and when my 2nd one started, I cried. Mom thought it was because of pain, but it was from relief!
    I didn’t start through menopause until I was about 50. My mother had started when she was in her late 40s and thought she was pregnant for 4 months or so, and finally went to the doctor, and no she was in menopause. I was scared to death I would do that. But I missed a couple of periods and thought I was probably in menopause and didn’t worry about it. My periods got less and less, I never did have heavy periods. I didn’t have hot flashes but would occasionally stick my feet out from under the covers at night because I felt warm, and got right over it. My periods went down to 3 or 4 times a year, and then twice. I read that I shouldn’t consider them over until I had gone a year, and so took precautions. But I got though everything without problems and was finished at about 52 or so.

    My mother, on the other hand, had really heavy periods, and all sorts of problems. My older daughters complain of terrible hot flashes. Debbie and Carla have both had hysterectomies so have had less problems.

    I love reading your comments. I was turned on to them when we had our last sibling reunion at your Dad’s place in September. Jo had found them and brought copies of some and we LOVED them. I have comments on other of your comments if we ever talk on e-mail or over the phone.

    THANK YOU!

  36. Allie P,
    ??? Maybe every single unused egg will be resurrected with you–not one lost?? (like hair?)

    and when we use them up, we’ll be able to make more somehow….

    I have several children, but would like to have more than I do. I just sort of believe God will save them for me, and that I’ll be up for it in the resurrection, when health problems, fatigue, etc. are minimal or gone.

    Thanks for the reminder that I’ve been spared that pain you have now. God bless you!

  37. Aunt Geraldine, thanks for popping in! It was interesting to hear about your experiences, as well as Grandma’s. Hope all is well with you. :)

  38. this is a great post and discussion. i’m going to contribute something on the practical side: everyone needs to get a divacup. seriously. it will change your life. i thought it sounded weird and disgusting when my friend first told me about it, but now that i’ve gotten to stop buying and carrying around and changing tampons, and now that i’ve gotten to stop worrying about toxic shock, my life is a thousand times better. a thousand! the wikipedia article on menstrual cups has good lists of pros and cons, if you want more information. remember how awesome it was to use tampons after dealing with pads? the divacup is the same way!

  39. That was so beautifully written — I have tears in my eyes right now. Oh, how I remember the belt and bulky Kotex. Luckily, feminine technology took a turn for the better when I came of age. Just wanted to say, I’m happy to have stumbled across your blog. And to the other commenters who questions use of hormone replacement therapy or something else, a really balanced article on the topic is from the Women to Women Clinic — Hormone replacement therapy: what we know now

  40. I had an early, surgical menopause, which was not the way to go. Yikes! It was crazy.

    Having said that, I never missed my period per se. It was a convenience not having it. But I did feel nostalgia for all it represented, that’s for sure.

    I never had negative feelings about my period. It was just a natural part of life, and I have always loved being a woman with all that role entails.

    =)

  41. Jacqueline, I’m so glad you stumbled across this post and I hope you’ll come back to Segullah often. Thank you very much for the book recommendation—I’ll have to check it out.

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