I enjoy not having periods anymore
Karen, 53 years old
"How did women manage before? Without medication too. I don’t want to talk anyone out of using hormone patches. It's alright for women to take hormones. It just wasn’t right for me."
My periods started becoming irregular when I was 34. In the beginning, my head would suddenly get hot when I drank coffee. It didn't occur to me that I might be entering menopause.
When I was 35 doctors told me that I was too young for menopause. Then, when I turned 40, they said it could be my menopause.
When I was around 45 or 46 I didn’t have a period for a whole year. I thought it was great that they had simply stopped. You often hear that it takes 10 years to stop completely. So I thought I'd gotten off lightly. Then my periods returned. I had them for half a year, then they disappeared for a year again. I’m 53 now. That’s how long it has already taken.
I never liked having my period
In the last few years before they finally stopped, my periods were very light, but I had them more often. Sometimes they were longer, and sometimes they only lasted two days.
I never liked having my period. I think it’s annoying. And at first, when they start becoming so irregular, having to always be prepared and carry tampons and stuff on you. In the last few years I haven't had to worry about that. If I didn’t have my hot flashes, I wouldn’t think about it at all nowadays.
I enjoy not having periods anymore. They always came pretty late. I always got cramps, and my breasts hurt. If the kids bumped against me or I had to climb stairs, it hurt. I'm so happy that's no longer an issue. I never wore white trousers in the summer because I never knew when I'd get my period. Some women get their period every 28 days. I never did. I feel like jumping for joy when I think about it.
Maybe some women think: 'Now I will never be able to have a child.' I never thought that way, but I can imagine that others might. I didn’t feel that way about it, but things were different for me: I wasn’t able to have another child for other health reasons, so I had already accepted that fact. It was no longer an issue for me when I reached menopause. I'd been through all that before.
I felt like my heart would jump right out of my chest
When the hot flashes started it felt as though my head would explode, and my heart pounded at the same time. Once when I was drinking coffee with a few women, I really felt like my heart would jump right out of my chest. I didn't know what was happening. Then it was usually over before I knew it. Sometimes they only last a few seconds. They're more frequent at night.
Sometimes I found it unpleasant when I had to serve customers in summer. But hot flashes don't make you smell at all. If I sweat when I'm physically active, then it smells differently than having a hot flash. There’s nothing I can do about it. I just have to accept it, even when the hot flashes come every quarter of an hour.
The hot flashes were dreadful at first. It's hard to explain. All at once, 20 minutes later, the next one comes along. It's a bit like having contractions when you're in labor. Over the years the time between them kept getting shorter. When you can’t sleep at night because of the sweating attacks it's pretty unpleasant.
At first doctors told me that it wasn’t menopause. Then I turned 40 and they said I should use hormone patches. Suddenly they said I was going through menopause, but before it was nothing. So I started using hormone patches. They made me lose my appetite completely. I was already thin to start off with, so I stopped using them after four weeks.
My periods were very irregular for about four or five years. Whenever I thought it was finally over, I had another hot flash. It's been three years since I had my last period. But I still have hot flashes. Sometimes there are bigger gaps, then I have them more often again. I don't have them every quarter of an hour, though, like I did in the first few years.
People didn't use to talk about menstruation
It wasn't an issue in the past. People kept themselves to themselves more. I never saw my mother naked or anything. At the most, I maybe saw her in a petticoat. It was a different era. When I got my first period I thought I had hurt myself. When our daughter got her first period I gave her a ring to mark the occasion. I lay her down and covered her with a blanket. It was a special occasion. It’s a milestone in life, a sign that you're becoming a woman. I'm really pleased that it was like that with my daughter. Things were completely different in my day. We thought it was just awful. People might have talked about things like that around the age of 20. A lot has changed. I never talked to my friend about it. That changed after a while. I envy my daughter. I wish things had been different when I was that age.
When I told my husband it must be my menopause, he said: 'There'll be no pause for THIS man.' I felt like he was making fun of me (laughs). He didn't mean it that way, though. I needed peace and quiet too. For example, I often didn’t feel like cuddling with him, I just wouldn’t be in the mood. My husband was actually quite understanding. That isn’t always the case with other people. Some women say that their partners are grumpy about it, which obviously doesn’t help.
How did women manage before? Without medication too. I don’t want to talk anyone out of using hormone patches. It's alright for women to take hormones. It just wasn’t right for me.
Getting through menopause... I guess you don't always have to do something about it. I don’t have to feel fantastic every single day. If I did then I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anymore. Everyone has to find out for themselves what's best for them. You have to try out different things.
Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.
The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.
Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.