Mclay Now Has Two Children And 70 Marathons Under Her Belt
McLays story has a hopeful ending. She and her husband have two children whom they conceived via egg donation.;
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But like any infertility journey, theirs wasnt linear, involving multiple miscarriages; failed embryo transfers; countless hormones and drugs; hefty bills and contracts; and loads of doctors appointments.;
The experience required the type of endurance and preparation for roadblocks thats needed for marathon running, something McLay pursued for the first time after her diagnosis. I still needed to feel young and I needed to feel that I was beautiful and youthful and could do challenging things and still had this 20-year-old body, she told Syrtash.;
If shed not gone through premature menopause, she likely would not have found that passion. Shes now run 70 marathons to date, seven of which she ran on seven continents in seven days, called the World Marathon Challenge.;
Her company, which organizes marathon-running and other wellness adventure trips around the world, is also born from her infertility-spawned love of running. It was a long journey, it was a marathon, she said. But how beautiful is the finish line now?;
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Signs You May Be In Perimenopause
The signs and symptoms of menopause can start as much as a decade before a woman actually hits menopause. Youve reached true menopause when youve been period-free for at least 12 consecutive months. This signs and symptoms stage of menopause is actually called perimenopause, around menopause, and covers the period of time during which your body makes the shift from still fertile to no longer fertile.
Most women reach menopause between the ages of 40 and 58, with the average age for American women being 51-years old. However, the shift towards menopause can begin about four to eight years before it is actually diagnosed. In very rare cases, women may begin showing signs and symptoms of menopause in their late-20s or early-30s. This is referred to as early or premature menopause.
Either way, if you suspect youre feeling the effects of perimenopause, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider so they can discuss what youre experiencing and determine what if any treatment or support is available to you. Some women weather the road to menopause with only a few hitches and require nothing in the way of treatment, while others may find relief from various menopause treatments.
The following are five of the most common signs youre making the transition to menopause:
How Do I Know If Changes In My Periods Are Normal Perimenopausal Symptoms Or Something To Be Concerned About
Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause . But other conditions can cause abnormalities in menstrual bleeding. If any of the following situations apply to you, see a doctor to rule out other causes.
- Your periods are changing to become very heavy, or accompanied by blood clots.
- Your periods last several days longer than usual.
- You spot or bleed after your period.
- You experience spotting after sex.
- Your periods occur closer together.
Potential causes of abnormal bleeding include hormonal imbalances, hormonal treatments, pregnancy, fibroids, blood-clotting problems or, rarely, cancer.
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Treatments For Early Menopause
A GP will probably recommend you take this treatment until at least the age of natural menopause , to give you some protection from osteoporosis and other conditions that can develop after the menopause.
If you have had certain types of cancer, such as certain types of breast cancer, you may not be able to have hormonal treatment.
The GP will talk to you about other treatment options and lifestyle changes you can make to help protect your health.
If you’re still getting symptoms, the GP can refer you to a specialist menopause centre.
Going through the menopause early can be difficult and upsetting.
Permanent early menopause will affect your ability to have children naturally.
You may still be able to have children by using IVF and donated eggs from another woman, or using your own eggs if you had some stored. Surrogacy and adoption may also be options for you.
Counselling and support groups may be helpful.
Here are some you may want to try:
Page last reviewed: 02 February 2021 Next review due: 02 February 2024
Induced Premature Menopause Or Early Menopause
Induced menopause may result from premenopausal bilateral oophorectomy or from cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiation. Premature menopause from these causes has increased over time because of the improved success in the treatment of cancer in children, adolescents, and reproductive-age women. Similarly, the practice of prophylactic bilateral oophorectomy at the time of hysterectomy has increased over time . However, evidence for the long-term risks and adverse health outcomes following induced menopause is starting to accumulate.
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Induced Menopause Following Prophylactic Bilateral Oophorectomy
Approximately 1 in 9 women aged 35â45 years has undergone hysterectomy, with 40 percent undergoing bilateral oophorectomy at the same time, resulting in the abrupt onset of menopause . The practice of prophylactic oophorectomy has increased over time and more than doubled between 1965 and 1990 . Meanwhile, reports now link induced menopause from bilateral oophorectomy with serious health consequences including premature death, cardiovascular and neurologic disease, and osteoporosis, in addition to menopausal symptoms, psychiatric symptoms, and impaired sexual function.
4.2.1. Mortality and cardiovascular disease
The Mayo Clinic Cohort Study of Oophorectomy and Aging involved a population-based sample of 4,780 women and reported increased all-cause mortality in women who underwent prophylactic bilateral oophorectomy before age 45 years . The increased mortality was mainly observed in women who did not take estrogen after the surgery and up until age 45 years . Cardiovascular mortality was also increased in the women who underwent bilateral oophorectomy before age 45 years and did not take estrogen .
In summary, data consistently show an increased risk for cardiovascular disease in women who undergo bilateral oophorectomy inducing premature menopause or early menopause. Estrogen replacement proximate to bilateral oophorectomy appears to be particularly important for reducing premature coronary heart disease and death in this group of women.
4.2.2. Neurologic outcomes
When Does Menopause Begin
Menopausal symptoms usually start from around age 47 years. The final menstrual period is usually about age 51 but can vary considerably. There is currently no reliable way to predict when you will experience menopause and what your menopausal symptoms will be like.
When menopause happens before 40 years it is called premature, and when it happens before 45 years it is called early.;Menopause after age 45 years is considered normal and there is no upper age limit to when it can begin. However, most women have experienced menopause by age 55 years.
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What Causes Hot Flashes And Sweating During Menopause
Ellen Sarver Dolgen, Coronado, Calif.-based author of Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness, found her life thrown upside down when perimenopause began in her late 40s. Her first hot flash happened while she was in a business meeting with all men.
âI felt a flush of heat come over me but I didnât want to pay much attention to it,â she told WebMD. But when she stood up she felt sweat dripping down the inseam of her pants. âThank goodness I carry a big purse because I think it makes my hips look smaller,â she says. She used her purse to hide the wet mark on her pants as she left the meeting. âIt was absolutely mortifying.â
Doctors think hot flashes and night sweats are a result of fluctuating or decreasing estrogen levels. When menstrual cycles finally stop, estrogen levels drop fairly dramatically, Omicioli says.
The drop may impact a part of the brain that regulates body temperature. We all have a thermal neutral zone, which means our body temperature stays stable even when the temperature around us changes slightly. Theoretically, a drop in estrogen levels may narrow the thermal neutral zone, so that small changes in outside temperature cause a rise in body heat.
There are a couple of other theories about why menopause and excessive sweating tend to go hand in hand.
Early Menopause At 46 Was A Surprise Now I Realize It Was Also A Gift
I spent a chunk of this year crunching the numbers, like some kind of gynecological accountant. It boiled down to this: If I got to the end of July with no period, I had probably reached menopause. If I got to the end of August, I definitely had.
A few weeks before my 46th birthday in September, I reached the 12-month milestone, which officially made me a menopausal woman.
Menopause feels like the world is giving me nutrients back. Like both my body and my soul have been thanked for their hard work and given emeritus status and a big budget to simply explore.
I dont feel wistful about this. With preteen children, my brain has long moved past childbearing years. But its surprising that my body followed, wrapping it all up far sooner than I expected. The average age for menopause is about 52, so reaching menopause between the ages of 40 and 45 is considered early menopause .
But when hot flashes found me last year, I had a feeling I was on a different course than most other women my age. My periods had been erratic since my early 40s. Other things were happening, too. My sex drive was often lackluster, my moods were more noticeable and something unsettling was happening around my midsection.
My doctor first confirmed it wasnt a problem with my thyroid. Then she tested the levels of my follicle-stimulating hormone. While not a perfect indicator, the test suggested I was well on my way through the transition.
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Diagnosis Of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency
If you have irregular periods or have stopped your periods for more than three months, please see your doctor and make sure your doctor includes hormone tests to exclude early menopause.
Your doctor will need to do a full physical examination and investigate the cause of your symptoms.
The criteria for a diagnosis of POI are:
- at least three months without a period
- two blood tests to confirm whether the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone are more than 40IU/l the two tests need to be performed on the third day of your period and at least one month apart.
A doctor is likely to perform the following tests:
- pregnancy test, FSH and Oestradiol
- prolactin this is the hormone usually involved with breastfeeding, but when raised, it causes periods to stop
- transvaginal ultrasound this is an internal ultrasound of the vagina and uterus to check for evidence the ovary is functioning by:
- counting the number and size of the follicles or eggs in the ovary
- measuring the volume of the ovaries
- assessing the thickness of the lining of the uterus or endometrium
- checking for any blockage that is stopping menstrual blood flow.
Opinionyour Doctor Doesn’t Know If You Have Perimenopause Because It’s Largely Unstudied
To get through it, I made a few changes. To combat weight gain and potentially uneven moods, I cut out my daily glass of wine . I also found a renewed love for running something Id been doing for 25 years but came to see as extra important for dealing with stress and keeping my bones strong now that estrogen wouldnt be around to safeguard them as much.
Hot flashes? I kept wet washcloths in the freezer and draped one around my neck when a flash came . And as for romance there was no magic fix on that one, but my husband and I worked to spend more quality time together and have more honest conversations .
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Opinionaging Is A Woman’s Secret Power And The Data Proves It
I wouldnt know how to function outside of a big, generationally anomalous family, where I sometimes identify more with my nieces than my sisters. And Ive loved defying expectations and going my own way whether its not changing my last name, working for myself or reversing traditional gender roles when my husband became a stay-at-home dad a dozen years ago. All told, the experience of zigging where others zag has been tremendous. Ive found my greatest joys by skirting away from the expected.
Thats why Im now thinking early menopause may be my greatest opportunity yet.
First, as a writer who specializes in writing about honesty, this experience offers a chance to speak with candor about a thing so many people dont want to talk about. If the prevailing wisdom is, “Shhh, dont talk about hot flashes,” you can bet Im going to tell everyone about them. I believe we should talk openly about the things that happen with our bodies to combat shame, embarrassment and just plain disinformation.
Dealing with menopause right now also puts me squarely in my body at a time of pandemic threat, where taking care of your health is more important than ever. No symptom is going to escape my watch, and Ill do what I can to keep myself and loved ones safe but active.
Will I Still Experience Regular Menopause Symptoms
The hormones in combination birth control pills will help to regulate the menstrual cycle and hormones, which will prevent many of the symptoms of menopause.
It is possible, however, that the pill will cause side effects that are very similar to the symptoms of hormone fluctuation. These can include:
- mood swings
- changes in appetite
People may also experience irregular periods or spotting between cycles, especially if they are taking the minipill.
It can be hard to tell if some symptoms are side effects of the synthetic hormones, or are due to natural hormone fluctuations in the body.
One way to check would be to stop taking the birth control pill to allow the bodys natural cycle to resume. It can take some time for the natural hormones to kick back in and for regular menstrual cycles to begin again.
If symptoms continue when someone stops taking the birth control pill, including irregular bleeding, it is likely that they are going through perimenopause. Conversely, if the symptoms go away, these were probably side effects of the pill.
When coming off the pill, it is essential to wait at least a few months to give the hormones time to readjust.
It is important to recognize the possibility that the birth control pill was masking perimenopause or menopause. If this is the case, then menstruation will no longer occur if a person stops taking the pill.
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What If You Want To Get Pregnant After You’ve Hit Menopause
Okay, so let’s say you’ve already hit menopausemeaning you haven’t had a period in 12 months or morebut you would still like to get pregnant. Luckily, if that’s your choice, science is on your side through a process called in vitro fertilization .
According to the US National Library of Medicine;, IVF is essentially the joining of a woman’s egg with a man’s sperm, outside of the woman’s body . In women who are of childbearing age, there are five steps to IVF: stimulation, egg retrieval, insemination and fertilization, embryo culture, and embryo transfer. However, because women who have already gone through menopause are not producing eggs, they do not need to go through the first two steps, and will instead have to use eggs from a donor.;
From there, it’s like any other IVF pregnancy: Once a fertilized egg divides and become an embryo outside of the body, per the NLM, it’s placed inside the woman’s womb, where she can carry the embryo, then fetus, to term.;
The bottom line: If you havent yet reached menopause but are perimenopausal, you can definitely still get pregnant. But if youve already hit menopause when you decide you want to consider motherhood, its not necessarily too late” for that, either.;
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Menopause Symptoms At Age 40
For the vast majority of women, menopause symptoms dont start this early. If menopause happens before age 40, its called premature menopause. If it happens between age 40 and age 45, its known as early menopause. Fewer than 10 percent of women experience premature or early menopause.
But if youre in your early 40s and are regularly experiencing symptoms such as changes to your periods timing or flow, hot flashes, mood changes or sleep problems, dont ignore them. Talk with a womens health specialist.
A specialist like an OB-GYN or certified nurse-midwife can work with you to determine whether your symptoms are related to menopause, or another reason such as hormonal disorders or other health conditions.
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Avoid Excess Consumption Especially Snacks Nuts Alcohol And Keto Treats
When metabolism slows during menopause, even consuming slightly more than you need can add to weight struggles. While a low-carb diet can help you keep consumption in check by reducing cravings and increasing satiety between meals, you can still go overboard on keto-approved foods.28
Paying attention to food and drinks that contain little nutrition and/or lots of calories is important for women in menopause. That means be careful with keto desserts, fat bombs, bulletproof coffee, MCT oil, alcohol, low-carb fruits, and nuts. If youre really struggling, try eliminating dairy, such as eating lots of cheese and cream. Understanding hunger signals helps control excess consumption, too.
Too Young For Hot Flashes
When Menopause-Like Symptoms Come Too Soon
Hot flashes, night sweats, loss of regular menstrual periods and sleep problems. These familiar symptoms of menopause appear in most women around age 50. But if they arise before age 40which happens for about 1 in 100 womenits a sign that somethings wrong. Early symptoms like these could be a sign of a little-understood condition called primary ovarian insufficiency .
Most women with POI are infertileUnable to get pregnant.. Theyre also at risk for bone fractures and heart disease. And many arent aware they have POI.
Symptoms of POI can be missed because young women may not realize theyre having symptoms similar to menopause. They may not think hot flashes are worth mentioning to a doctor, says Dr. Lawrence M. Nelson, a researcher and physician at NIH. Some teens and young women think of the menstrual cycle as a nuisance, and they dont mind missing periods. They dont take it seriously, and thats a mistake. Missing or irregular periods are a major sign of POI.
POI was previously known as premature menopause or premature ovarian failure. But research has since shown that ovarian function is unpredictable in these women, sometimes turning on and off, which is why many physicians now prefer the term primary ovarian insufficiency.
Nelson is now looking for 18- to 42-year-old women with POI to enroll in clinical studies at NIH. For more information, visit poi.nichd.nih.gov.
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