Written by Charlene Hartung

Curated

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15 Apr, 2021

According to …….., most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being around 51. However, about one percent of women experience menopause before the age of 40 years. This is known as premature menopause. Menopause between 41 and 45 years of age is called early menopause.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a big family with at least four kids. My reasons were simple. I grew up with one sibling, a brother four years my junior. Growing up, I remember feeling very lonely and misunderstood at times. I longed for a sister, a “forever friend”. So when I got married and we started planning our family, two kids were a minimum, at least for me.

In 2019, I started noticing changes in my menstrual cycle. And even though I was not quite ready for baby No. 3 yet, I was 36 and knew that if it was ever going to happen, now would be the best time. I seeked help from a gynaecologist in town, because by then, my period had been gone for about three months. He did an exam, scanned my ovaries and indicated that he needed to do blood tests, but that it seemed to him my ovaries had shrunk, since they are half the size they should be. That is an indication of perimenopause. Especially because my period is gone too. But we did some more blood tests. He called me back a few days later and said that if my period does not return in six months, he can run more tests and hopefully find some answers.

After about five months, my period returned. And I thought “yeah! I’m back in business!”. With my period back, I assumed I was ovulating and able to conceive.

A year later, my period stopped again. At month three, I was having very bad skin problems…acne so bad it made me think of my teenage years, something I definitely didn’t think I would relive in my mid 30’s. The pimples were big, red and painful and were concentrated around my cheeks and chin area. They made me very uncomfortable and I was quite self-conscious. People were asking my friends what was going on with my skin. My dad was asking what was happening to my skin. I felt so bad! A chance conversation with my sister-in-law led me to make an appointment with my GP to get a prescription for Dalacin-T, an ointment I used when I was a teenager that was effective back then. The doctor suggested we do a few blood tests, including checking my hormone levels, for pregnancy etc. A day later he called me back and asked me to go in for a consultation.
He sat me down and told me that my FSH levels are extremely high and that he suggested I go see a gynaecologist.

Sometimes, elevated follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels are measured to confirm menopause. When a woman’s FSH blood level is consistently elevated to 30 mIU/mL or higher, and she has not had a menstrual period for a year, it is generally accepted that she has reached menopause.

I did not expect this diagnosis. Even though I knew it was a possibility as I have been introduced to the concept before, I didn’t think this would be at my doorstep again.
How can I be in full-on menopause at 37? I am healthy, I had two pregnancies that were hassle free. I did not struggle to get pregnant.
How was this possible????

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