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Personal Stories

Franzi, 55 years
It started at 49: hot flashes, memory lapses, difficulty concentrating and focusing, sleep disorders
"The thing that bothered me the most was worrying that my perimenopausal symptomes would be seen as a negative at work. I didn't want to be labelled as "over peak" or as an old woman."

When I was 49, I had what was supposed to be my last period. It wasn't until about 12 months later that I realized it had been my last period. Shortly after, I suddenly had hot flashes. I had 20 to 30 of these hot flashes all day, every day. My sheets were always on and off at night. My sleep was disrupted, and I knew then that I was in menopause. It was surprising how little I knew about it and how little was said about it in my environment. I felt lonely and uncertain, and I felt like this phase of my life was very challenging. I searched for information online, but I found so many contradictory statements that I almost froze with anxiety. It was difficult to understand exactly what was happening to my body and how I should deal with it. But that wasn't all. In addition to the hot flashes, I also had memory lapses, concentration and focus problems, and sleep disorders. I felt tired and drained. What bothered me the most was the fear that my menopause would be received negatively at work. I didn't want to be labelled as “over peak” or “crazy.” So I kept my situation secret. Today I know how important it is to talk about it openly and to break the taboo.

Sylvia, 40 years
It started at 37: exhaustion, headache, dizziness, weight gain, very bad mood, loss of libido and lack of motivation
“I feel like my doctors didn't tell me that I'd go through menopause after my uterine surgery.”

I was only 37 when it all started. Not at a typical age. My girlfriends couldn't understand me. I had an incredible number of symptoms that could be attributed to hormone problems, but my doctor simply fobbed me off with steroid therapy. Other symptoms kept piling up, but I always had the feeling that I was imagining it all and that others felt the same way. I didn't know that my menopause was caused by cystic teratomas on my ovaries. Because of severe back pain, I went to an osteopath and asked for an X-ray from a doctor because the tumors were discovered by chance. I needed immediate surgery—a full hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy. It was very exhausting, but finally the all-clear: none of the four tumors were malignant. I'm really grateful to my surgeon—the operation relieved me of many problems. But no one had mentioned that I could enter my menopause as a result of the operation. I had a lot of menopausal symptoms after that. I work with a lot of older colleagues, so I overheard a conversation by chance and thought to myself that I had the same symptoms: exhaustion, headache, dizziness, “brain fog,” weight gain, bad mood, no desire for sex, and lack of motivation in general. It was almost a relief to find out that these symptoms weren't from the surgery but from hormonal menopause. I did some more research and found solutions that helped me. I wish there had been a service like Hermaid where I could have found out more. My family doctor doesn't know what to do with me. During my six-week post-operative follow-up appointment with my gynecologist, I was advised to take hormone replacement therapy. I found alternative methods that worked for me too, so I decided against hormones (HET) for now.

Kirstin, 42 years
It started at 40: lack of sleep, hot flashes
“I had to take a break because I couldn't sleep anymore!”

I'm 42 today and in the middle of my perimenopause. It started two years ago. I couldn't sleep for two weeks, had night sweats, and never got more than two hours of sleep. Then I collapsed at work. My doctors didn't help me at all. We did all sorts of tests, and the first thing they suspected was epilepsy, which got me thinking. I eventually found a solution through online research, not with hormones. As a biologist, I understood what was going on in my body. I changed my routines and started taking ashwagandha. But honestly, why don't gynecologists give you the right advice? You should know better, after all, every woman goes into menopause at some point, but not every woman has a child. I'm glad you're creating a platform like hermaid.

Maria, 55 years
It started at 51: anxiety disorder, motivational difficulties
I always thought menopause would just come at some point, like gray hair. I wasn't aware before that I had to prepare myself for this phase of life and change my lifestyle habits so radically. Hormone replacement therapy helped me; in just 10 days, my depression was gone.

As someone who works with positive behavioral therapy methods, I started perimenopause at 51. I noticed changes in myself, but didn't know what they meant. My period was still regular. I had more respect for a lot of things, a kind of fear of the unknown, and some tasks that I had done with ease before suddenly seemed difficult. I don't like the term "anxiety disorders" because it's not really about anxiety. It's more about "not trusting yourself" or "having too much respect for something." I took a step back, made fewer friends, and didn't take on any more challenges. Understanding this transformation wasn't easy for me. There were no external circumstances that I could blame for this. I don't have any kids who are suddenly out of the house, and I had a good grip on my new job. Yet I felt a strange tightness in my chest. My husband couldn't understand this change in me. I was good at making sense of things with myself. But he suffered from my condition perhaps more than I did. I tried to self-medicate and started keeping a journal. It took about two years before a good friend recommended the book Women on Fire to me and said that I might also be in perimenopause. The term was completely new to me. My picture of menopause was women standing by the window and venting out due to hot flashes. As a trained psychologist, I was not aware that depressive moods could also be part of the symptoms. The book described the advantages and disadvantages of hormone replacement therapy. My gynecologist didn't believe I could have perimenopause. She said the rule would determine this. Today I know she was wrong because two years later I suddenly had no rules. Then I looked for a second gynecologist who prescribed hormones for me. Within 10 days, I had no more symptoms. I really like my doctor and am generally happy with her, even though she doesn't prescribe hormones. I would have liked her to be a bit more open-minded.

Heidi, 59 years
It started in 55: weight gain, vaginal dryness, dry skin, hot flashes
My doctor wanted to prescribe hormones for me, but I wanted to solve it naturally and changed my diet

I'm 57 and in post-menopause. Menopause started at 52. As a computer scientist and someone who thinks in logical steps, I like to read up on something and research all the background to find a solution. I've been experimenting a lot to find out what helps me with my symptoms and what doesn't. I had dry skin, including vaginal dryness, which was so bad that I couldn't ride a bike anymore. I also gained weight rapidly, even though I was always slim. Even after my pregnancy, I was able to lose weight quickly without dieting. I consulted my gynecologist, who prescribed hormonal patches for me. I continued to look into it, but decided against it and tried a change in diet instead. My son is an athlete and follows the latest fitness trends. He suggested I try the keto diet, which actually did help. Keto is a Mediterranean diet.

Patrizia, 49 years
It started at 44: joint pain, fatigue, lack of strength
“I’m glad I kept at it, even though my doctors didn’t seem to take me seriously.”

When I was 44, I was experiencing some pain in my hands. It was so bad that I couldn't turn on anything solid anymore. I wore a wrist brace for driving, which made it difficult for me to work at a desk. It didn't get any better. I still tried to continue exercising, even though I had little energy. It wasn't until my girlfriend pointed out that it could be perimenopause that I found some relief. I listed my symptoms, and through introspection, I realized that I had a lot of things going on, from lack of sleep to tingling under my feet. In fact, I wasn't even aware that there were so many symptoms before! The first doctor said I was tired because I drive a lot. He didn't even address the pain I was feeling. He also ignored the topic of "brain fog"—difficulty concentrating and tiredness. At some point, I had to do a blood test, which showed nothing and delayed everything by eight weeks. Fortunately, I was persistent. I was looking for a doctor in Munich who had advised me on hormone therapy. And after just a short time, almost everything had disappeared again. It was almost magic!

Franka, 51 years
It started at 43: bladder problems, heavy bleeding
"What if I'd started taking hormones earlier? Could one or the other operation have been avoided?"

At 43, I started having trouble with my bladder. I was going to the bathroom more often than usual, and I felt like I wasn't completely emptying my bladder. I went to see my family doctor, but he couldn't find anything wrong with me. A pelvic exam didn't show anything, either. I was finally referred for a cystoscopy, which the doctor said was fine. I was prescribed tolterodine to help with my overactive bladder. That helped a bit, and I was later switched to mirabegron because it supposedly had fewer side effects. At the same time, my menstrual bleeding became more and more intense, which made me very worried. My family doctor said that this was not due to menopause, as I was supposedly too young for it. So I was referred to gynecology to have a colposcopy done. A Mirena coil was recommended to me, but I wasn't convinced. I finally had my last period when I was 48 years old. I asked for hormone replacement therapy, but was denied it until I was actually in menopause a year later. In 2020, at 49 years of age, hot flashes and sleep disorders began. I asked my doctor again about hormone replacement therapy and finally received it. The first two drugs I was prescribed had side effects, but I ended up getting Estrogel and progesterone. Last year I had a hysteroscopy and a breast cyst. As I write this, I'm amazed at the number of medical procedures I've undergone. I wonder if I would have received hormone treatment 8 years ago, when the clear signs of menopause began, whether I would have been able to avoid many difficulties.

Eva, 46 years
It began at 39: abdominal pain, night sweats, irritability PMS, weight gain, lack of strength, inner restlessness, fatigue, poor sleep, hair loss
“Yoga was really helpful for dealing with the pain and relaxing. I only gained weight due to hormones, and I immediately stopped them again.”

Looking back, I noticed the first signs of menopause at the end of 30 or 40 years of age. I had night sweats, especially before my period. Before my pregnancies, my menstrual period was very irregular, but it suddenly became more regular after that. Over time, however, it became stronger and more painful, and my physical wellbeing has suffered as a result. I also had severe pain, which I thought was a bladder infection at first. I consulted my usual family doctor and asked if the pain could be related to my ovulation. During conversations with my girlfriends, the question also came up as to whether my symptoms might be due to menopause. Since I haven't taken a pill for 15 years, I may have experienced the symptoms earlier than other women. To deal with the symptoms, I started practicing yoga, which really helped me. It helped me relax and deal with the physical ailments. I also read a lot about the topic and talked to my girlfriends to find out how they deal with similar problems. Although I saw my gynecologist for medical help, he told me that I was too young for menopause. My hormone status didn't provide any clear evidence. However, I was prescribed a medication that I didn't take because of side effects, such as extreme weight gain. I was already struggling with that anyway. Instead, I went to the pharmacy for advice and tried a herbal supplement. In short, my symptoms include night sweats, increased irritability (especially in the week before my period), weight gain all over my body, lack of strength, restlessness, tiredness, poor sleep, and hair loss. I supplement my diet with vitamin D and take collagen powder, which has helped with my hair.

Sabine, 54 Jahre
It started at 52: hot flash, weight gain
"I just look at the package leaflets for the preparations and then buy the ingredients individually. Sage is a miracle cure for hot flashes."

My menopause started at a normal age. Many of my girlfriends were already far away, and we talked a lot about it. I gained weight very quickly in just a short period of time. I don't drink much alcohol, but now I drink even less. I also get a hangover much faster now. I don't take hormones because I believe that the body must deal with this transformation as well. I only took the pill when I was a teenager. After 24, I stopped. Menopause is a completely normal natural transformation, so I would always try to solve it naturally first. I rarely take medication anyway. But I've read a lot of the package leaflets in drugstores about the ingredients used in menopausal products. I brew a very strong sage tea every morning, which I then drink throughout the day. The hot flashes were really unpleasant, especially when you blush in front of a customer without notice and have beads of sweat on your forehead. The fear of it stressed me out a bit. I completely got rid of them with my tea shots. I've also read that blackberries are supposed to help. I've also adjusted my diet a bit, but now I'm also eating less on average because my body simply needs less now. I had to realize this first.

Podcasts

The Sex Gap | Der Podcast zu geschlechtergerechter Medizin
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Wechseljahre – die sanfte Energiewende Dr. Anne Fleck - Gesundheit und Ernährung mit BRIGITTE LEBEN!
Midlife: Der Podcast über die Mitte des Lebens
(ENG) Huberman Lab Episode: Dr. Sara Gottfried: How to Optimize Female Hormone Health for Vitality & Longevity
Menomio - Der Podcast für glückliche Wechseljahre
Einfach zyklisch -  Podcast für ein gesundes, zyklisches Leben
Fix und Vierzig
MENO AN MICH. Frauen mitten im Leben.
50 über 50 - Stephanie Hielscher
Crazy Sexy Wechseljahre: Der Für Sie Podcast - von und mit Angela Löhr
(ENG) The Dr Louise Newson Podcast

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