September 2014

There’s hot and then there’s HOT!

I recently asked a mid-forties patient who had come to see me for an annual GYN visit if she had any questions or concerns about her health. This is how she responded: 

“I was standing on a bed tacking-up a poster and the next thing I knew the room started to spin and then lights-out – I had fainted! I had NO idea that menopause could come on so suddenly like that!

This patient happens to have a disorder that gives her frequent attacks of vertigo. However, there was something about that episode that it led her to believe it marked the cessation of her periods, not a relapse of her dizzy spells. When I explained to her that menopause is not an acute medical emergency and unlikely to cause the same symptoms as Meniere’s disease or a brain tumor, she seemed genuinely surprised. I often wonder where people get their information……

Meanwhile, peri-menopause and its characteristic challenges are front-and-center for me right now. The night sweats and hot flashes are persistent and there is absolutely nothing erotic about this kind-of heat. People have noticed something weird is happening to me including my workmates who have asked me more than once: What’s wrong with your ears – they’re bright red! My partner, who is 5 years my senior reminded me of how, prior to her ovaries fully retiring, she would often say: “Oh my God, don’t touch me I am so f**king HOT!.” Evidently, her core temperature like mine matched that of molten lava. Had I had the audacity to lay a finger on her because of the slightest interest in sex and it was clear: keep that up and my life is at stake! Having sex was absolutely out of the question. I remember fearing this was a new-normal and that we were headed towards a sexless marriage. Fortunately, once her thermometer registered normal again for more than a minute, things went back to the old-normal. Now, our age difference has caught up with me and I am the one yelling “Fire!;

I am doing all I can to stay calm – and cool – and remind myself that this is just a phase. My endocrine system is driving the bus right now and there’s nothing I can do about it. Things aren’t so bad that I need hormone replacement. But I have to admit there’s nothing sexy happening in my bed – covers on, covers off – all night long.

Thank goodness it has been an unseasonably cool summer.