Friday, July 22, 2011

Menopause at 41 (yes, 41) and How I'm Getting Through

While watching Ramona on the RHONY wonder if, at 54 years old, she is pregnant, I almost laughed. Sure it's possible, but it's far more likely that, as Jill Zarin put it, "menopause is knocking."

I've had irregular periods since I was in my mid-30's. When I was 36, I remember my midwife telling me that I was in perimenopause and that I should start using progesterone cream. I did for a while, and everyone around me though that I was crazy, far too young to be in menopause. Every year, I had endometrial biopsies done to make sure I didn't have cancer. Blood work was run and was always inconclusive. Until this year.

After the usual pap and biopsy, and everything coming back clear, I requested that blood work be repeated. Sure enough my FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) was high, indicating that I am in early menopause.  While I don't miss having my period (it's been almost 4 months), there are things that come along with menopause that need to be managed.

That ringing in my ear that they thought was Meniere's is probably due to the fluctuation of my hormones. And there's hot flashes, tons of them, and heightened anxiety. The good news is that all of this can be managed. I started taking a low dose of alprazolam on an as needed basis, which does wonders for limiting both my anxiety and the tinnitus. Do you know that they prescribe it for tinnitus to lessen the symptoms? I am taking Black Cohosh 40 mg, twice per day, as suggested to me by W's aunt. I am also taking a multivitamin with CoQ10. For the hot flashes and dryer skin, I was at a loss. Having 30+ hot flashes a day was uncomfortable and kept me up most nights. My friends, DT and HTH told me to try acupuncture. DT and her friends used acupuncture to manage menopausal symptoms, while HTH used it for other things, with amazing success. Both shared their acupuncturists' names, and while I highly trust my friend HTH's recommendations, I didn't want to go to the city especially when I knew that I had a acupuncturist locally that I loved.

I returned to Balance Acupuncture, where I'd gone last year and really enjoyed the treatments. I told her my symptoms and she explained certain points that she was treating. Two, near the eyebrow, help regulate body temperature, and are my favorite points so far. After the first treatment, the hot flashes minimized. After the second, they were less than half as often as before, and after the third treatment, I've only had two and they've been minor.

I also noticed that, when menopause started, I began waking up in the morning feeling devoid of joy. I mentioned this to her at my appointment yesterday, so she did some points to help with that. Fire points (I can't really explain it in a way that I could be sure is correct). This morning, the first morning following my appointment, I woke up feeling clear minded and joyful (as joyful as I've ever been at 8:30 a.m.) I swear, I am becoming addicted to acupuncture.

And all this acupuncture is making me want to return to yoga, to inner peace and balance. I think I still have some sessions left on my account. I haven't been working out at all, though my mind keeps going back to yoga. Prana Yoga Center is on my mind.

If you are going through menopause, know that you are not alone, and that HRT isn't the only option (although I've read that bio identical HRT is better than classic HRT). Try acupuncture from someone who has been recommended to you.

I highly recommend Balance Acupuncture, so if you live in the area, call for your appointment. There is street parking right out front, and once you walk in, you will feel the positive energy. The space, too, is just beautiful. Most of all, Susannah Pitman, is a warm person who listens, pays attention, and is wonderful at doing acupuncture.

Balance Acupuncture is at 1000 Main Street in Boonton. You can reach her at (973) 257-8924. Tell her the Domestic Goddess sent you.


  1. WOW! You are young for that. It sounds like you are managing it well.

  2. OMG DG... thank you for this info. Dean has suggested acupuncture for my restless leg syndrome. I hesitate because well, the needle thing freaks me out. I will talk to Susannah again (she is a wonderful and kind person) maybe she can help me with my mid life "stuff".

  3. Oh you will love her. The needles are nothing. I promise. She is very gentle.

    I have to come get the white coat hooks (like the red that I have). Been seeing you + Savannah all over Main Street. Miss you.