So, I've been battling horrible menstrual cramps for months now and I've gone as far as I can with acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal supplements, diet, meditation and exercise. After eight months of drastically changing the way I eat and getting good results, the results just haven't been good enough. Yes, cutting sugar, caffeine, grains and dairy made a big difference, and when I stick to my diet the pain goes down, but it still shouldn't hurt this much. I've tried many holistic approaches, but I've hit a pain plateau, so it's time for different measures. The menstrual cramps are still bad and now my pain persists even between periods, so this week I saw a specialist.
Fibroid tumors in the uterus and fallopian tubes are common. Apparently they're two or three times more common in Black women than in white women, but we don't know the rates for Latinas since we aren't included in as many research studies (surprise). Such tumors are rarely malignant and usually just exist painlessly and peacefully in people's uteri or fallopian tubes. Typically, women just ignore them, but sometimes they grow large and cause terrible cramping, heavy menstrual flow and pressure on surrounding organs. Now I know that this has been my problem. The gynecologist/surgeon I consulted with confirmed that I have a uterine, fibroid tumor. He described it as "eight weeks," which means it's the size an eight-week-old fetus would be if I were pregnant. I laughed when I heard that (I've never been pregnant and have never wanted to be).
So...a son of a bitch uterine fibroid tumor has been making my life miserable...what are the options?
There's the removal of the uterus altogether, since I'm 49 and obviously have no interest in bearing children. A hysterectomy would kick me into premature menopause, but since I'm due to hit menopause in a few years anyway, why not start now? Another option is a drug called Lupron, which stops the production of certain hormones and would stop menstruation, inducing a kind of temporary menopause. There's some discomfort associated with this drug, but I'm guessing it's not as bad as what I've been going through every month. Another option is uterine artery embolization. That would block the blood vessels that support the fibroid tumor, killing it. Oh, yeah...killing it. Another option is going back on The Pill and the last option is to do nothing and just live with the pain, which I'm NOT going to do.
The doctor tried to warn me about the discomforts of menopause, but I don't care. I realize at least two of these procedures would put my body into menopause before its time and I'm okay with that. I've heard all the scary stories about menopause and, frankly, I'm a bit puzzled by how much people want to warn me about it. Why make a fuss? I have to go through it sooner or later, so why focus on the negative possibilities? Maybe I'll have hot flashes; maybe I won't. Maybe I'll have other uncomfortable symptoms; maybe I won't. This fibroid tumor has been causing me agony and I'm okay with experiencing ANYTHING ELSE at this point.
Even if whatever treatment we choose brings me hot flashes and weight gain and depression and the end of my sex drive and a full beard, at least I'll stop going through this: every month being physically doubled over, either moaning in pain or screaming into a pillow and weeping because I'm in red hell. And this goes on for days. I've had enough!
Menopause is unavoidable for us women. I'm heading towards it no matter what. Maybe I'm due to reach it when I'm 51. Maybe when I'm 53. Maybe next year. So if inducing it a little sooner stops this pain, then let's get on with it. I'm okay with the scary menopause stories because I just need this menstrual nightmare to end.