This blog post is about my vagina.
I’ve wanted to blog about my vagina for a really long time, but I haven’t had the courage. Even now, as I write this, I’m second-guessing myself. However, when you get the urge to write about something and it doesn’t go away for weeks and week, I think it’s time to share it with the world. Moreover, my husband, the professional journalist, told me that sometimes writers have to write about hard subjects. It’s just what they do.
I’m highly uncomfortable writing about my vagina. I don’t want to do it at all. I’m scared people will think I’m being crude. I’m also concerned that many readers won’t understand why I’ve decided to share something so intimate, when I could just be writing about traveling, Mexico, packing, or how to “retire” early and live out your dreams. I never thought in a million years I’d be sharing something so intimate.
Here’s why I am writing about my vagina:
- Many women (me being one of them) are not comfortable discussing physical symptoms and problems that are happening to them during pre-menopause or menopause. As a blogger, I have an opportunity to create a space for all women to better understand what is happening with their bodies, souls and minds.
- After experiencing problems for many months, I am feeling compelled to share my story. Believe me, I would rather discuss this in a less public manner, perhaps with just a few close friends, but I simply can’t. I feel compelled to share my experience with every single female reader of BelieveItOhrNot … so they can avoid what I’ve been through. Just because I’ve been in vagina hell doesn’t mean others have to be there, too.
So here goes …
Things have gone south with my vagina in recent months. It all started after my ovarian cancer surgery three years ago in May of 2015, a procedure that included a total hysterectomy. Afterward, my doctors told me that I would enter menopause immediately (even though I was only 49 at the time) and that I would start having symptoms such as hot flashes. They were not lying.
My menopause symptoms are freaky bad and scary as shit. In addition to hot flashes, I have memory problems and anxiety issues. Some days I actually feel like I am losing my mind due to brain fog and general forgetfulness. I actually thought I might have a brain tumor at one time! Luckily I found out that these are all symptoms of menopause, but it took me a long time to get there. And I had to figure it out by myself, which is scary and not cool.
For me, the worst symptoms are the hot flashes. Some nights I wake up drenched in sweat. Two seconds later I’m freezing cold. Then I’m sweating again. It’s freaking maddening. Due to my lack of estrogen, my body temperature just can’t regulate itself. I have hot flashes during the day, too, but they aren’t so bad.
Then there’s my vagina. About six months ago, I began spotting — which, of course, freaked me out. I thought ovarian cancer had returned. In addition, I had really horrible itching and burning. And sex was just impossible. I’d be doubled over in pain.
These symptoms led me to believe: 1) I had a horrible yeast infection; 2) I had some type of bladder issue; and 3) I had a recurrence of cancer. I tried a bunch of stuff to treat the alleged yeast infection and the alleged bladder infection, including a big dose of antibiotics. The symptoms would retreat for a few days or a few weeks, only to return.
Then, a few months ago, in the spring of 2018, I visited the Bay Area and went to an appointment with my oncologist. I talked to her about my symptoms, including the chronic itching, burning, dryness, pain during sex, etc.
Here’s the very important takeaway for women who are entering menopause, and for women who have similar symptoms but don’t have the courage to talk about them.
I was at that point diagnosed with vaginal atrophy, which sounds a lot worse than it actually is. It’s the thinning of my vaginal walls due to menopause symptoms. It’s common … and it’s treatable!
My doctor prescribed a topical estrogen cream, which I apply twice weekly. It has really helped relieved my symptoms! The spotting/bleeding has completely stopped, and the other symptoms are greatly reduced. They haven’t disappeared, but now they are super manageable whereas before they were atrocious. My doctor also told me that I have to have more sex — with or without a partner — because the act will help rebuild my vaginal tissue. This “prescription” made Andy very happy.
I’ve said what I wanted to say on this topic. If you are feeling uncomfortable about anything to do with your vagina, find some courage to speak up. Maybe talk to your friends about it, or at least find the courage to share it with your doctor. I wish I had understood my symptoms were related to menopause sooner rather than later. Getting properly treated, rather than guessing at things, could have saved me a lot of money, time, anxiety and energy.
If you want to email me with questions, I promise to respond.