Friday, 25 May 2012

A wee problem

Once upon a time, like all good (ie. bad) girls, I carried a spare pair of knickers in my handbag or in the glovebox of my car.  Because I never knew what bed I might wake up in and spare knickers were important.  And of course the spare knickers were always a wispy little confection of gorgeous nothingness, only providing coverage by the barest of margins but damn they looked great.  And that's the only thing they were there for. To look fabulous.

Fast-forward too many years to count and I find I'm back to carrying a spare pair of knickers in my bag and/or glovebox.  Only now they're more likely to look like this:
And instead of a sassy little matching bra, the must-have accessory for these sexeh pantehs are these:
(only without wings - I fucking hate wings!)

Because now, I'm more apt to cough or laugh and wet myself than to secrete a night-before stranger's bodily fluids into my undies.  Yep, my pelvic floor muscles, which were once strong enough to hold a pen and write my name with (I may or may not have tried this once...don't judge me!) and make a man gasp in surprise at their strength, have now decided that they can't even hold on tight enough to stop wee from escaping into my knickers at inopportune times.  Fucking fabulous.

So shall we say the word? You can whisper it quietly if you like. Ready?

Incontinence.  There. I said it.

Depressing.  Sexy.  Not.  And yes, I know that doing pelvic floor exercises will help (my mum trained me in them from an early age, thankfully, and I had a Caesarean for the birth of my son, so that helped) but still...why does it have to happen at all?

I'm so in denial about this that I even refuse to buy pads specifically for the purpose - I buy normal period pads. Hmmm...I note that I just wrote 'normal', as if to imply that urinary incontinence (however mild) isn't normal.  See? Even my subconscience is in denial!

It would help if I could get rid of this damned cough left over from the recent bout of bronchitis but even then, I still like to laugh - a lot and hard - and let's not even get started on sneezing!

Can you identify? Has your knicker drawer slowly transformed from Dita Von Teese into Mrs Slocombe?

Tell me so we can have have a laugh about it together. With our legs crossed of course. And with a spare pair of knickers and a pad close by!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

HRT now deemed safe for Australian women

At least that's what the latest research seems to be saying.

By Dubravka Voloder
Posted May 23, 2012 22:27:55
A review has found hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause is safe, ending a decade of worry and confusion for women.
An alarming study in 2002 said HRT for menopause raised the risk of blood clots, breast cancer and strokes.
Since then there has been intense debate about whether that risk was big enough to outweigh the benefits of the treatment.
But now, an expert review has concluded the original study was flawed.
You can read the full article here

I'm glad to hear this because to be honest I was a little worried.  Having heard about the potential risks I had occasionally wondered what I would do when the time came.  Naturally I don't want to put myself at risk and was contemplating refusing any HRT treatment but now it seems I may not have to worry and that when I reach the point where HRT looks like an option, I'll be much less hesitant about it.  Of course I will try to keep up-to-date with the research and see what the current scientific consensus is at the time but for now, I'm glad that Australian women can be reassured by the latest findings.

That's the wonderful thing about science though. When it's wrong, it's not afraid to say so and re-test.  In fact, the very basis of the scientific method is that it's good to be wrong - something to celebrate even - because that means you get to move forward and try again to get it right. Have you hugged a scientist lately?

I do feel really sorry though for the group of women who didn't/weren't able to utilise HRT during their menopause due to the warnings and potential risks (and fair enough, I wouldn't have either) as they must have done it hard. Ladies, I salute you.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Bloody Hell!

Dammitall, I'm bleeding again.  WTF?

On checking my diary I note it's been a whole 21 days since The Period from Hell began. But it went for nearly a week, which means it's only been a little over two weeks since the last bleed.

I Am Not Happy.

FFS I thought you were supposed to have less periods, not more.

Is this normal? Should I see my GP? (I just realised I have hardly any readers - maybe even none since I've moved my blog again so I'm not really asking expecting an answer, I'm more screaming into the void).

Blood or urine? Depends!

I had a really bad bout of bronchitis a few weeks ago.  The bronchitis has gone but the hacking cough still remains.

That's annoying enough (and made worse by the apparent early arrival of winter in Melbourne, the thin air making me cough even harder) but it's the damned bladder control that's driving me mental.

Honestly. I'm so sick of hacking my guts up only to feel that terrible squirt as my formerly proudly tight (toight, loik a toiger) pelvic floor muscles decide it's just all too hard and let go, resulting in wet knickers and a red face.

I need to start travelling with pads all the time, I've decided.  I got caught off-guard on the weekend.  There we were, strolling through the romantically gorgeous little town of Maldon (seriously, check it out - you'll love it!) when I started coughing...and suddenly felt that decidedly UNromantic squirt of urine.  I told my sweetheart that I had to get to a shop asap and get some pads.  Concerned, he asked "are you bleeding again". Me: "um, no, but I am coughing a lot..." "Oh...I see" was all he said.  Oooh yeah, I'm bringin' sexeh back alright.

Wet knickers are never an option so I raced into the little supermarket and grabbed some pads, asking where a public toilet was.  The woman behind the counter was very sympathetic and let me use their staff loo.  What annoys me most though is that I was too embarrassed to say what was actually going on, instead making up something about unexpected perimenipausal bleeding.  Why though? Obviously blood is acceptable, urine is not.  But I just didn't want to say "I'm wetting myself every time I cough and have to pad up to cope".  Obviously I am more vain than I realised. Years ago, I always made sure I never went anywhere without a spare pair of knickers in my bag. I'm about to start doing that again, only for entirely different reasons now, sadly!

Don't Touch Me! The Menopause Rap

Originally posted on 9 May 2012 on previous blog space:

Look what I found! I love this and reckon you will, too.

Now I admit that I haven't yet experienced any of the classic symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, dry vagina and other yummy can't-wait-to-experience-that kind of stuff) but I hope that when I do, I can deal with it as sassily as this woman does.  I think what I like most about it is that she's edgy and gorgeous, and a far cry from the sad crone depictions we usually see associated with menopause. You clearly don't want to muck this woman around, menopausal or not!


Comments from original post at old platform:

Would be interested to know whether you've started to look into any of the who/what/where/hows to get you through the symptoms of menopause. - Sparkle 9/5/2012
 Madame Menopause replied:
Not yet I haven't, mainly because the only symptom I've experienced so far is erratic periods. I don't think I can really blame my moods on perimenopause just yet either (tempting as it is!). I'm thinking I'll start to investigate them as symptoms occur. I'll be looking closely at HRT though I suspect and hope there will be improvements in it by the time I need it! Thanks for reading :)
Take a look at natural progesterone; it's been a revelation for me. It could also help with your periods, not sure about it working on the spouting hair although!  - Sparkle 9/5/12

Love this! Just the thing for all of us perimenopausal 48 year olds lol. - Mary-Jo 10/5/2012

Why aren't we talking (and laughing about this?)

Originally posted on 1 May 2012.

I'm gobsmacked. My gob, she is smacked. In searching the interwebz for pithy quotes and throwaway lines about menopause, thinking I'd find a million of 'em, I was absolutely stunned to find barely anything.

I found a quote by Stevie Nicks, one from Whoopi Goldberg, and a bit from Cybill Shepherd. Where is everyone else? Where are the fabulously funny women? Why aren't there reams of funny quotes about menopause and perimenopause? I found a few (and I do mean a few, barely anything really) articles about famous women who have spoken about menopause (Susan Sarandon, Jane Seymour, Kim Cattrall) but all with a very earnest and "take this seriously tone".

I ask you, where is the laughter? And...where are the Australian women? Do we have any menopausal role models? Hello? *sound of crickets chirping*

Could it be....*glances around carefully* that it's not funny? No, I don't think so. Pretty much everything has a funny aspect to it (except the possibility of Tony Abbott becoming PM - there is absolutely nothing funny about that but I digress).

Or is it still such a taboo thing to discuss publicly that the great majority of women simply don't (good girls, that's not polite conversation now is it? We don't talk about those kind of things). Or (dons tinfoil hat) is it a massive cover-up by the media (with a shameful amount of women complicit) to pretend it isn't happening at all? In our beauty and youth-obsessed world, the whole ageing thing has more than a whiff of the yuck factor doesn't it, or at least that's what I'm seeing, or smelling as it were. And the silence is deafening.

Well guess what? I want to talk about it. And I'm bloody well going to. All this 50 is the new 40 bullshit has to stop. Fifty is 50, any way you slice it and guess what lady? You're never going to be 40 again. But there's nothing to say you can't and won't still be fabulous, gorgeous, sexy, sexually active, get pissed, have rotten hangovers and dance like a dervish to the B52s and Blondie whenever you hear them.

In the future there's going to be a very different generation of old women in the aged care homes. Look out!

*If you know of any Australian women who have spoken publicly and humorously about perimenopause and/or menopause, please let me know.

PS: The Period from Hell is finally tapering off. I hope I don't have to go through that again! O_O


From Lilith on 10/5/2012: Your timing is just brilliant, madame! I've been *dying* for somewhere to talk about this - but who wants to hear about girlybits, right? Even girlfriends, who you'd think might be interested, go glassy-eyed and look like they're just enduring until you finish speaking after a minute or two.

For the last 12 months or so, my monthlies have been getting steadily heavier - in the way of can't-leave-the-house because I stand up and suddenly there's a puddle at my feet... Like you, I assumed that 'erratic' referred to timing - I thought that menopause would just be the gradual and graceful disappearance of my Aunt Flo going gently into those Goodnights™ (hehe)

It wasn't until I consulted Dr Google last week that I heard about the uterine 'Last Hurrah!' that is perimenopause. I'm only 33, so it's not something that even crossed my mind as applicable to me. (Like turning 30 was one of those things that only happens to other people.)
I did go through a number of IVF cycles in my mid-late 20s as an egg donor, so that might have had something to do with it happening early if, indeed, it is happening.. But who knows?

I've been putting off going to the quacktorcologist.. it's just easier to put pajamas on and sit in the bathtub with a blankie and a bottle of gin. I'm not sure there's even anything they can do.. or that I'm ready to have a roolly trooly diagnosed name for it yet.

Anyways.. Brill idea for a blog. I'll come back and visit. :)

"The writing on the uterine wall was a childish, albeit musical scrawl.." ~ Carrie Fisher, Delusions of Grandma.

Madame Menopause responds:
Hi Lilith, thanks for dropping by. 33? You poor thing! I imagine it would be even harder for you finding someone to talk about this with but you're more than welcome to exercise your perimenopausal rage and confusion here any time. Virtual chocolate, wine and a sympathetic shoulder are always available here ;) It would be interesting to find out more about whether egg donation trigged early menopause for you - perhaps Monash IVF or one of the private clinics have some data on it? Worth checking out I think.

I haven't heard about the Last Hurrah period either but I will start checking it out. The last one was a doozy!

Hope to see you around the place and feel free to share the link with anyone else you think might be interested and want/need a place to talk about the girly stuff no one really wants to talk about ;)

By Lilith: It's not a 'last hurrah' specific bleed - but rather a period of erratic monthlies in which your girlybits just go crazy.. The 'last hurrah' was just how one website that read I described it.
You've prompted me out of my procrastinatory gin-fest.. I have an appointment in a couple of hours to go and discuss it with my GP.. so I guess we'll see how it goes. :) Fingers and toes (and legs!) crossed.

Madame Menopause responded:
Good luck Lilith! I look forward to hearing how you go and what your GP says.'s a bit depressing to learn that there could be more periods to come like that recent one. I'm considering buying stocks in the Libra company!

Dory wrote: Hello Madame, thanks for the blog. Its about time that there was somewhere for us gorgeous menopausal girls to go, and the timing for me personally is just brilliant. I am 47 years old, and I think the time has come. Last week I took myself off to the doctor for the dreaded PAP test. Now its been a while, maybe 6 years (I know!), and hubby, who is just to die for (well today anyway) nagged me in to it.So off I went.
Up on the table, ankles together, and drop your knees. Drop your knees please (I though i did), no just a bit further please (Im sure my hips used to be more flexible than that). Three seconds of discomfort and yeah, I'm done.
What , I'm not?
Pelvic floor examination? OK
I'm just going to pop two fingers into your vagina dear, and can you squeeze for me, as hard as you can.
This is so funny, I laughed and laughed.
Pelvic floor all good.
Now dear, I'm just going to check you cervix just to see whats going on. Yes it looks like your menopause has started.
So is there a team of workers down there busy sewing it up or something?
So now I'm done? What not yet?
Ok boobs. Hell, I didn't wax my armpits. They need another day so the wax will stick, and why would you need to poke around my hairy armpits. Oh breast examination, yeah.
So now I am done. Waiting for results. Except I have to have a mammogram, and a breast scan. And the moral of the story is dont go 6 years without a pap smear, cos they will make you pay.
I shouldn't bitch, I am one of the lucky ones. Except for my cycle being 21 days now, and the periods a bit sketchy, I'm not having too much trouble.A few mood swings, but Im not convinced they are the result of menopause, I think they are caused by being surrounded by large amounts of stupid.
I think one of the funniest things about menopause is watching the men involved. Sometimes the look of absolute terror in their eyes when their lady looks at them a certain way is priceless. Most of my girlfriends are at the same stage as me, so there is endless entertainment.
Thanks again for giving us a place to have a laugh. I will be back.

Madame Menopause responded:
Hi and welcome Dory! Thanks for your wonderful post - that's just the sort of thing this blog was started for: hearing our stories in our own voices. Very happy to have you here :)

I have a Pap smear every two years because...well, just because I have to but I don't recall having my pelvic floor examined. I had a mammogram a few years ago because there's a bit of a link between breast cancer and cervical cancer and the GP thought it worth a go. Being extremely well-endowed boobage-wise it wasn't as painful as I'd heard some women say but I can imagine it would hurt like a bitch for small breasted women.

Drop by any time - I hope to make a post at least every few days, depending on time constraints and whether the menopausal muse grabs me and gives me a shake.

Dory wrote: I look forward to more, Madame. Just a quick heads up for the ladies who have finished their periods. My dear old mum finished her periods when she was about 47. Ahh the relief. Or so she though. Turned out her ovaries had one last egg they had been saving for a special occasion, and she was a little bit pregnant. And here I am.
So be vigilant girls, dont take anything for granted.

Lilith wrote: So I'm back from the quacktorcologist's office - (And may I just borrow your platform to extoll the virtues of my GP - it's so unbelievably nice to have a GP finally that listens and remembers what you say) - with a shiny bottle of Cyklokapron (Conjures up all sorts of funny mental pictures of cybertronic-anti-period aprons) .. which is to take while I'm on my period if it's too heavy to do normal activities (like leaving the bathroom?).. And she's ordered a pelvic exam ultrasound to see if there's any nasty in there responsible for it. and she checked my hormones from a blood test a few months ago (I had one with my pap smear) and said that if the ultrasound doesn't give us any clues, she'll do some more specific tests. Feels good to be working towards an explanation.. thanks for the motivation, Madame. :)

Madame Menopause responded:
Wow Lilith, that's efficient! Your GP sounds fantastic. They get such a bad rap in the media much of the time, yet most of them are doing a great job, often in difficult circumstances. Hope the Cyklokapron (which does indeed make me think of weird aprons...dammit, now I'm thinking of the robot maid from the Jetsons!) works. Let us know how you go with it.

Dory wroteJust out of curiosity, does anyone else remember the giant pads from years ago? The ones you attached to a belt, they didnt even have self adhesive. They came in a pack about the size of a weetbix box. I worked in a chemist way back then (that was about the only place you could by pads then) and we had to wrap them in brown paper, and they were stored under the bench, out of sight, so as not to offend.
My how things have changed.

Plucking my tits & a peevish uterus

I'm reposting the few posts I made when I first started this blog, just so they're all here in one place.

Re-posted from original blog space on 30 April 2012:

Here is my original comment I wrote on Cate Pearce's 'Dial M for Menopause' blog which earned some encouragement to start one of my own:

Oh joy. Another period, less than 28 days since the last one, which was the first in three months. Weird and unexpected. And lame, like it's only trying halfheartedly. The deep red flow of my fecund days has given way to an almost anaemic trickle, sometimes barely a smear. Hardly worth it really. I'd rather it just stopped altogether because this is just embarrassing.

And can we talk about hair? WTF's going on with the hair? I'm fair but a few months ago I discovered a hair which I believe rightly belonged to my partner and had clearly transplanted itself from him to me, growing just to the right of my mouth. A dark, thick, man-like hair. Needless to say it went the way of the tweezers immediately but it CAME BACK! And was just as quickly removed again. Now I'm worried. Will there be more? Will they also be black and bristly? Will I start paying attention to ads for men's razors? Will I grow a beard? Terrifying thought as I'm blonde and pale. And the breast hairs. What's that about please? Not as tough or dark as the facial hair but still definitely there. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time plucking these out of my boobs lately and I'm less than impressed. FFS I've never even plucked my eyebrows now I'm plucking my tits? This is horribly unfair and I want to know who I can lodge my complaint to.

As a bit of background, without giving too much away, my partner is just about to turn 40 and freaking out a little about it. Since I'll be 49 in October and therefore "the F word" next year, this makes me laugh. But in a weird, freaked-out kind of way! We have been together just over nine years and I don't know how he will react to having a menopausal partner. This brings its own extra set of anxieties to me.

Now, less than 48 hours after that comment, my uterus, clearly miffed at being publicly mocked for not producing work up to its usual standard, has hit back, giving me the heaviest period I've had in...actually I think ever. I'm bleeding copiously and passing clots (which I've never done in my menstrual history) and experiencing period pain like I did when I was a teenager before mum put me on the Pill to regulate and limit my periods. It's horrible.

Why is this happening? I knew to expect erratic periods but I thought that related to timing. Does it also mean changing in intensity from barely there to Niagara Falls too? Perhaps this is the last hurrah and the event organisers are now in cleaning out the venue for the last time? Who knows? I sure as hell don't.

Pass me another pad!

[First published on 30.4.2012 on original Wordpress blog]