Updated: Sep 22, 2022
At 54, I met a man who became the best romantic partner I've ever had. But let's back up a few years.
Around the age of 50, I decided to succumb to getting old. Not because I liked it. I accepted that society (and my partner then) was viewing me as a midlife woman, and the unavoidable process of wrinkly and saggy skin had begun. I never considered the option of postponing it. My partner and I were not being intimate anymore, or only occasionally, and I accepted it as a natural part of aging. I gained some fat and lost some muscles. My breasts were not looking so perky after breastfeeding our two children for a few years. I still had a strong desire to be sexually active, but it started to feel less spontaneous and more artificial.
I went back to school and attended an MBA program to keep me busy. Little did I know that my partner (22 years older than me) was happily cheating during this time. Wow. Big eye-opening when I found out! Suddenly at the age of 54, I had to "downsize" our family from 4 to 3, and just like that, I became a single mother of two children aged 10 and 13. I figured I would never have a loving sexual relationship again.
I lived in shock for a month; I didn't eat. I cried and then drank alcohol to stop crying. I felt sad, old, and used. I thought that I could never love and trust again. Then one day, I woke up and said, "I have to put breaks on this aging stuff." I wanted to feel young and sexy and desirable. I felt an overwhelming need for vanity and wanted to look good. Around the same time, I started to have trouble sleeping and felt an occasional hot flash. My periods were irregular for more than a year by then. I was irritable and moody. I continued to deny that these were obvious signs of menopause and blamed it on the family drama. I subconsciously rejected peri-menopause. I irrationally hoped the process would slow down if I denied it. Remind you; that I am supposed to be an accomplished MD and MBA, an expert in my field. Speak of wishful thinking!
Finally, during my yearly gynecological visit, I discussed my symptoms and options with the nurse practitioner, who is a female. My gynecologist is a male, and I highly respect him. Still, I felt embarrassed to admit to him that I had symptoms of menopause. I felt menopause is a sign of weakness, a sign taken as proof that women are, strictly speaking, no longer of use.
The answer to my problems seemed to be three magic letters, HRT. Hormone replacement therapy. I went home from my yearly visit equipped with hundreds of pages of medical articles and studies explaining the pros and cons of HRT. I was supposed to study through it and decide if it was the right choice. Seriously? I read the first 20 pages and gave up. There were many benefits and possible side effects, including increased risks of cancer and death. The results of some studies contradicted each other, and some studies were flawed. There were bioidentical hormones and "not so bioidentical hormones." There were FDA-approved therapy and FDA-not-approved treatments. Some therapies were started during early peri-menopause, and some started after menopause. The conclusion was that more studies were needed. I was supposed to decide if the benefits for me personally outweigh the risks. I told myself that there was only one way to find out: to try it. I accepted the possible risks and took a saliva hormone test at the local compounding pharmacy. They were running special, so I was instantly hooked! I mean, wouldn’t you do the same?
More about my bioidentical HRT journey in my next blogs!