Cheryl Hines on menopause: ‘Nobody told me what was going to happen’


I have mixed feelings when a celebrity gets a pharmaceutical endorsement deal. On one hand it’s usually a health issue that they’ve personally faced, like Julianne Hough and endometriosis or Monica Seles and binge eating disorder. The ad campaign is often focused on awareness and that’s typically a good thing, especially for stigmatizing medical conditions or “women’s issues.” On the other side they’re endorsing a specific treatment which may not work for everyone and which may be harmful in some cases. (Although at least it’s FDA approved and vetted, which is much more than you can say for many of the alternative treatments celebrities tout.) That’s a lead in to this story about Cheryl Hines’s new campaign for a menopause drug that’s supposed to make sex less painful. I’m in perimenopause and am experiencing more mood-based problems at this point, but I appreciate that she’s bringing it up, if only to shill for this medication.

“Honestly, it’s a new conversation,” Hines, 52, tells PEOPLE. “If you asked me a few years ago, I would’ve been very hesitant to talk about it.”

But as she began to hear more women discuss menopause — and the painful sex that often accompanies it — she realized it deserved more attention.

“I was surprised that this condition affects so many women, and that women often feel like they’re the only ones experiencing it,” she says. “When I started learning more about sex after menopause, it became clear to me that this is affecting millions of women and they’re not alone.”

Hines believes painful sex after menopause is one of those women’s health topics, like pregnancy woes and breastfeeding difficulties, that people don’t talk about publicly.

“I remember feeling like that when I was pregnant, and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, nobody told me what was going to happen,’ ” the mom to daughter Catherine, 14, says. “This is one of those exact times in life when you think you’re going through it alone, and you chat with your friends and they’re feeling the same way. That’s comforting.”

The lack of public awareness is why Hines is teaming up with AMAG Pharmaceuticals for their “Painfully Awkward Conversations” campaign.

“I know a lot of women, a lot of friends, who are experiencing painful sex after menopause, and I want them to be empowered to be able to talk about it with their friends and their health care providers,” she says. “I’m glad I can get that conversation started and let everyone know that there’s no stigma to it.”

Hines, along with menopause expert Dr. Marla Shapiro, wants to break down the myths.

“One of the misconceptions about menopause is that it’s like a doorway — you go through it, and then you’re done. But that’s not true,” Shapiro says. “Menopause is the next stage of life. Most woman experience hot flashes and night sweats and most will be through with that in six years, but all women, without proper treatment, will experience painful sex. The tissue in the vagina shrinks, and these changes get progressively worse over time.”

Although she recommends over-the-counter moisturizers and lubricants, she also says the tissue cannot regrow and rebuild without prescription estrogens and other medications. The problem, is that most women are too intimidated to ask their doctors — or each other — for help.

[From People]

The three minute ad accompanying this story on People features women at a party talking in the kitchen. They say things like “it feels like sandpaper down there” and “I expected hot flashes, I didn’t expect this.” It feels accurate except they don’t complain about their husbands at all, they just complain about not feeling comfortable enough to get busy. I really am not looking forward to that, and honestly this is the first I’ve ever heard that I’m going to be having painful sex soon and that it’s somewhat inevitable. In that respect the ad was effective and hit home. I’m not about to go out and get a pill for it unless I don’t have other options, but I’m kind of grateful that I know. I hope it’s not as bad as they’re saying though, my god.

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photos credit: WENN and via Instagram

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127 Responses to “Cheryl Hines on menopause: ‘Nobody told me what was going to happen’”

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  1. Kashmir says:

    Try a water based lube before a pill

    • Missy says:

      My mother in law is going through menopause, the skin on her vagina is literally thinning, it sounds like a horrible painful thing. She says sex was impossible. Water based lube is not going to help that

      • isabelle says:

        This happens to most women. It “thins” out. The thing is Docs when talking to women about menopause make it sound like their vagina is the only one experiencing atrophy, thinning of the tissue etc…which makes a lot of women feel shame its happening to them. It happens to all of us.

      • Jan90067 says:

        Try Vagifem. It’s a *very* low estrogen that is inserted, twice a week. It’s a good option if you can’t go on HRT. My mom had breast cancer and I wouldn’t even consider a patch or a general bloodstream med. I talked with my Gyno, my endocrinologist, and my oncologist, and they all said this was a pretty safe option, as well as a good aid.

        It’s true though, no one really talks about this. I was only 25 when my mom died, so I had NO idea about what menopause would entail, how old I might be when it happened (usually when your mother goes through is when you can expect it to happen to you (*generally*)). There is a LOT of stuff that happens to you/your body that no one prepares you for, emotionally as well as physically!

      • Tigerlily says:

        Jan90067….another vote for Vagifem. I’m 59 and was also surprised about the dryness and effects of menopause. I’ve been using Vagifem for a couple years now and it’s amazing the difference it makes. I’d tried KY ovules (sadly no longer making them) as well as Replens which is a moisturizer, not a lube. I still use Replens along with Vagifem and am more comfortable.

        For the dryness of menopause water based lube/aloe lube just will not cut it. Vagifem is very low dose and actually works.

      • Agapanthus says:

        It’s reassuring to hear other woman have gone through the same thing. I tried everything non-hormonal before vagifem and nothing worked. I have just started on vagifem and things are improving slowly. I was amazed how dry and sore everything got. Also, orgasms feel a bit different, less intense, and nobody mentioned that!! Hope that’s not tmi! 😊

    • Justme says:

      No lube even begins to help. It is horribly painful and very hard to find anything that helps. Then there are the cheery “sex is better than ever” comments by lucky postmenopausal women who are not affected, which makes one feel like some sort of loser. Yeah this is the side effect that nobody talks about.

    • BW says:

      Waterbased lube doesn’t work. I’ve tried them all.

      I’ve even tried coconut oil (suggested by my gynocololist). Nice moisturizer. Does not work as lube.

    • SilverPoodle says:

      Sorry, I tried lube and it didn’t work. The one and only thing that fixed my broken vagina was hormone replacement therapy. They will need to pry it from my cold dead hands to make me stop taking it.

      • phaedra says:

        Yeah, lube is not sufficient for some women, and I am one of them. I can’t do HRT because of breast cancer history– but would do it in a heartbeat otherwise. Believe it or not, I’ve had success with physical therapy. Yes, you can get physical therapy for your vagina. Who knew? Also, coconut oil works OK for me. Another PT told me to stick Vitamin E gels up there. Haven’t yet.

      • blacktoypoodle says:

        Silver Poodle:
        Same with me and I love your name.
        Menopause started for me at 32. Yes, it can happen. And the hormone cream also helps keep your urinary tract healthier as well. The whole Genito-urinary area was thinning and painful for me, even without sex. Sex was impossible.

      • Mego says:

        I was too afraid to take it but understand and respect your sentiments about it.

      • Agapanthus says:

        Ha ha, yes, sadly lube didn’t work enough for me either. I use coconut oil externally and vagifem twice weekly. I was worried about using hormones, but It contains a tiny amount of oestrogen compared to oral HRT (0.01 mg in vagifem, 2mg in Estelle, for eg). It is made from pregnant mares urine though!

        Once I get less dry, I am going to try biodentical progesterone cream which, hopefully, will be protective, help with the flushes, and mean I need less vagifem.

        I have read quite a lot about menopause as I am having such a symptomatic one and I understand if you have suffered badly from PMT or are oestrogen dominant, odds are you will have a more problematic transition.

        I suffered terrible anxiety, depression, rages, low libido, poor sleep, joint pain, dry skin, hair loss etc with mine but feel I am coming out the other side now-2 years since last period. It has felt very isolating as none of my friends have suffered the same way, and I have found the posts from the lovely celebitchy ladies very supportive. Thanks all of you! :) x

  2. NicoleinSavannah says:

    After all the endometriosis problems, thankfully I now ask away. I had menopause long before 33 from meds, the most helpful was the Estrogen cream. I’m just scared about the length of time to take it and it’s NOT cheap.

    • Linda Davila says:

      It is now, they made it generic and so far i find it harmless and wonderful; i went over every possibility with my gyno and she has assured me I will be fine and my boyfriend will not Grow boobs! (She said unless he eats a tube of it daily) hahaha

  3. Who ARE these people? says:

    If she’s promoting another estrogen based drug, this is not a new medical response, just a new ad campaign. Is this like when Prozac was repackaged for PMS?

    Also, six years for hot flashes? Must be the average because it’s shorter for some and longer for others.

    • Esmom says:

      Effexor has also been repackaged for hot flashes, according to my doctor. I was already taking it for depression but she said I’d need to up my dose significantly for it to help ease the hot flashes. I said no thanks, they don’t really bother me that much at all. I have been having them on and off for about two years.

      • Boston Green Eyes says:

        I’ve had horrible hot flashes for like 3 years now. I would have them *once an hour* – I know because I timed them! Now that it is cooler here in the Northeast, it’s not bad, the heat definitely triggers them.
        I’m also on Effexor for depression, but it doesn’t cut down on the amount of hot flashes I was getting in the summer.

      • Jan90067 says:

        I was put on Effexor initially for hot flashes. And guess what… I was in the 1% that had side effects lol, of course! It made me pass out twice! Literally blacked out and fell down, hitting my head twice (once against a wall, and once on the bathroom counter). In fact, until we realized what caused me to black out, a doctor (a neurologist whom I was referred to in the ER) said it was epilepsy (!!! 2 or more unexplained blackouts are almost automatically diagnosed as this, she told me), and she alerted the DMV that I wasn’t to drive!! I had to get a form filled out from another doctor, and after an exam, and going through my meds, he figured it out! Weaned me off the Effexor and voila! Never happened again. Of course, the hot flashes were back, but better than blacking out! lol

      • Rosie says:

        I briefly took Effexor after breast cancer diagnosis and it was awful. Sexual side effects manifested themselves almost immediately: inability to climax. I then did some research and found its incredibly difficult and dangerous to get off Effexor and you have to wean yourself gradually over a year. I had been on a week and was like: hell no. I weaned myself off a week later. I am not a fan of Effexor at all.

    • Birdix says:

      SIX years—or more? I was thinking it was a year or two. Ugh.

  4. Huh says:

    What? Painful sex now. Ok is there anything else I need to know about menopause?

    • Missy says:

      My mother in law is going through menopause, the skin of her vagina is thinning, apparently it’s awful and sex is impossible. She has a pill now that helps but it took a while to find something that worked. I’m not sure if everybody goes through menopause the same. My mom is older than my mother in law and she doesn’t have hot flashes, or mood swings.

    • onerous says:

      Rage!!!

      I’m only 40 but have early onset. The rage hasn’t surprised me. I’m typically EXTREMELY unemotional. Things never used to phase me.

      But now!? Now I’m mad about everything! From people who don’t return their carts at the grocery store to big social injustices. But not like a regular mad – like a burning fire of anger, lol!

      I know it’s happening which makes it kind of funny – like observing yourself from the outside. I keep apologizing to my kids and husband – who are wonderful. Like – I know this is irrational so just ride the wave with me.

      But honestly – it’s a miracle people stay married through this. I have a ridiculously wonderful life surrounded by people I adore but I every day think about how much I just want to be completely alone. It’s a mind f*ck!!!

      • Darla says:

        onerus, I had this something terrible. I know exactly what you mean. That started in perimenopause for me. A while ago a new obgyn put me on Paxil. It’s helped, a lot.

      • Embee says:

        Is there a test for menopause? Because I’m feeling like this as well and I cannot find a logical explanation for my rage and prickliness! My cycle has gone from very predictable 28 days to somewhat variable 24-26 days.

      • Onerous says:

        @Embee – there’s not really a test, per se. It’s diagnosed by a collection of symptoms. My cycle has gone from my normal 28 days to 24 days for a few years and now it’s so unpredictable I have to always be prepared – 17 days, 34 days, 9 days… and that can go on for YEARS! I’m dying for my last period because always feeling like you’re about to start and then not, or having multiple cycles a month is the worst!

      • hexicon says:

        @Embee–you can ask your doctor for a FSH test. As PP said, it’s a collection of symptoms, but FSH levels are very informative. I’m not getting periods due to IUD so my nurse practitioner and I are monitoring my transition by watching symptoms and FSH levels.

      • Giddy says:

        I had rage. I could hear myself saying awful snarky things to my sweet husband, I knew I was being awful, but I couldn’t control it. Another really weird symptom I had was that my heels ached as if someone had been beating them with a paddle. I had no idea why it was happening, and my G.P. didn’t know. I finally found a book that mentioned it as a menopause symptom. The book said it would slowly go away and that’s what happened. But for more than a year I could barely stand most shoes, and I walked only when necessary. My mother had a friend who had bumper stickers made up that said Menopause Is Not For Sissies, and she gave them out to all her friends. I saw those cars for years. Even her husband had one on his car! She gave me an insight on handling the various indignities that getting older hands us and that is talk with your friends about it. Laugh, cry, snarl, complain, and listen. Someone else may have an idea that will help you, and maybe not. But you’ll be together.

    • Esmom says:

      I was cautioned about painful sex but the menopause symptom that I didn’t expect at all was joint pain. Mostly in my wrists and ankles and not insignificant. Apparently estrogen has anti-inflammatory properties.

      Also, I thought I’d escaped weight gain after a few years of perimenopause and now menopause but suddenly my body is changing in dismaying ways, despite my keeping up the same exercise I’ve been doing forever, even increasing it. Good times.

      • FhMom says:

        Wow. Thanks for mentioning this. My hip hurts when I walk up stairs and I can find no explaination for it.
        Re, weight gain: I’ve been so smug because my weight hasnt fluctuated in years and thought I avaoided the perimenapausal weight gain people talk about. I haven’t had a period in about 16 months, but I’ve gained 8 pounds despite the fact that I go to the gym 5 days a week and watch what I eat. Last week I bit the bullet and bought some new pants in a larger size. It sucks. I can’t believe I would say this, but I miss my period.

      • Jan90067 says:

        Joint pain, bone “aches”.. oh… and the thickening mid-body… such a joy! I’m thinner now than I’ve ever been, and my waistline is 3″ larger!! And the rest of the “sand” in your body will shift around, so while your weight might not change much, your shape will. My weight has been pretty stable for 4 years, but man, my shape hasn’t been!

    • Snowslow says:

      Apart from the occasional hot flashes, my mum did not feel a thing.
      Just putting it out there so that we also have the other side of menopause.
      She also never had menstrual cramps so my take is that it’s not going to be like that for me at all as I suffer a lot through my cycle (ovulation and menstruation).

    • Leigh-Klein says:

      You’ll have days where you’ll want to move to Baffin Island or the Arctic and live in an igloo – naked, lol. Yep.

    • maxine ducamp says:

      Don’t borrow trouble; not every symptom happens or in the case of those things that happen to everyone (caused by the change in hormones), happens to everyone in the same degree. I’m post menopause and have never had a single hot flash, not a one and I wasn’t on HRT or any other supplement other than my usual vit. D and calcium. I’m not married or in a relationship so I can’t speak to the painful sex, but I don’t seem dry. I did gain like 20 lbs but there were other contributors and I do need to go to the gym and watch what I eat. I’d always been lucky that I could keep my weight in line with minimal effort and that is no longer true. I was moody 10-15 years pre-menopause but I also had major depression so it’s hard to know whether or how much the perimenopause contributed. Honestly, for me, it was a bit of a non-event; same for my sister.

      • Nikki says:

        Well I had a pretty dreadful time, but my closest sister literally said, “I just ralized I hadn’t had my period for ages and ages; I counted back, and it’s been more than a year!” Boy was I envious. So it’s true, some women are symptom free!

      • hnmmom says:

        I had early menopause (finished at 46) and not a single hot flash, either. I did have the horrible weight gain (ex: all-liquid diet for 3 days due to other health condition and GAINED 2 LBS). I also had my anxiety and panic attacks ramp up significantly. Also, forget sleeping through the night. Now that I am post-menopausal for a few years things are evening out a bit. Oh, watch out for your hair, ladies. Mine went from being oily to so dry that I almost had to cut it all off due to breakage. My hairdresser figured out what was going on and changed my routines and saved my hair.

    • Shae says:

      Sis, when I had my first hot flash my head was in the freezer. I actually got on a ladder and put my head in the freezer to cool off. Purchase some really cute fans, you’ll never know when you’ll have a flash. When a young one ask why you’re fanning in an air condition place. Just reply “keep living”.

      • Jan90067 says:

        At Bed, Bath, and Beyond they sell this great little fan, looks like an old transistor radio, that you can wear around your neck that is wonderful! A girlfriend got one for me, after her sister in law got her one. Hands free cooling! 😊

        When I was in my 30s I saw the play “Menopause”, and while I found it hysterically funny, I now *really* “get it”. If you haven’t seen it, catch it 😊

    • Mego says:

      Not having periods is the best thing that happened to me!

  5. Naptime says:

    Cheryl looks fantastic, she seems to be reverse aging.

  6. Eliza says:

    I am not menopausal but I’ve always worried about the future and whether or not to take estrogen. Even if low risk, it can be a catch 22, esp. after seeing women fight estrogen-fed cancers I hope for more awareness and research.

  7. Darla says:

    I went through perimenopause, then had one ovary removed due to cysts. I would say by 45 I had to use lube for the first time in my life. However, sex was not painful. Two years ago I had a complete hysterectomy. Sex was not painful, however I was unable to reach orgasm, which was all in my head. And I knew that. I was freaked at not having a uterus. Recently, I got over that and my orgasms are weirdly, better than ever. Sex is not painful. I do still need lube.

    Is painful sex inevitable? I really don’t know. If it is, at what age does it become inevitable? All I can tell you is that after all of the crap I’ve been through, and I am certainly post menopausal now, and yes, I had some bumps in the road, but sex is still fantastic right now.

  8. Lindy says:

    Ugh, why does being a woman have to be so damn awful with this stuff? I’m 41 and I don’t think I’m near menopause just yet (in fact, I got pregnant with no help in 6 weeks last year with my husband and I started trying for a baby). But it really does sound so miserable, and I realized that there’s a lot I don’t know about it. It really isn’t discussed at all. Time to start educating myself!

    • manda says:

      I agree with you!! I always joke, every ten years our bodies completely change, and while that’s not totally true, it sort of is. Like my period at 11, my early 20′s were fine, but in my 30′s my metabolism slowed, now I’m in my 40s and perimenopausal–my period is so crazy these days!–and I’m guessing I’ll go thru menopause at 50 like my mom and my sister.

    • Snowslow says:

      @manda Not to diminish our crosses to bear as women, please talk to the men around you.
      Along the years of a 22 year marriage I discovered that the testicles are very prone to skin problems and also cysts (my husband is currently struggling with that and it is painful). They also have – which I havent experienced yet but I think it may happen as we grow older – erectile dysfunctions linked with mental issues, stress and age. They JUST DON’T TALK ABOUT IT.

    • isabelle says:

      At 41 its possible to be entering peri-menopause which can last for up to 10 years before you enter menopause. The signs can be a lot more subtle than menopause so women often don’t realize it they are peri until they have tests because they associate it with something else being wrong (like being tired all of the time).

      • Aurelia says:

        Peri menopause – try 20 years, I am 45 now and have had it for 20 years. Tried bio identical progesterone cream but it was useless. Plant estrogens worked to an extent. Had no choice but to try perio menopusal HRT 2mgs bio indentical estrodiol and synthetic progesterone at 1mg. . Im 3 months in and if it doesn’t control my chronic insomnia and brain fog – and the other 25 symptoms, I am willing to bring out the big guns – the combined 20mg synthetic estrogen and progesterone contraceptive pill. Menopause can last until you die so you better get a grip on it. And peri menopause can be worse for some woman than menopause proper. Your treatment plan needs to change too as you move through the rest of your life.

        Ladies, best gift I can give you is to get onto youtube and look up Menopause Barbie. She has THE BEST menopause info. No agenda. She is a menopause specialist, M.D Gyno and obstitrician. Her tutorials answered all my questions and enabled me to choose the right treatment plan. She gives you the pros and cons for every treatment out there.

  9. Snowflake says:

    I wonder what menopause will be like.

  10. Astrid says:

    My personal experience with menopause has been a world of relief! No more PMSing and long heavy painful periods. I’m happier with my body now than I was for the last 40 years. I’m probably a small minority of “lucky” women.

  11. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    I can relate!!! I am unable to use any hormonal therapy because of family breast cancer history.

    There is already a medication on the market called Osphena, but it carries risks I’m not willing to take.

    My NP told me that the best therapy to prevent atrophy of vaginal tissue is physical stimulation – a use it or lose it scenario. The Sloane-Kettering website has a ton of information on moisturizers and vaginal dilators/how to use them effectively.

    The whole thing sucks so much. My hot flashes are finally petering out after 8-10 years, but a normal sex life is currently on hold until I make some progress.

  12. Barrett says:

    I have endometriosis and adenymyosis. My periods are hell, my hemoglobin has gone as low as 6, ferritin 0. I am 44 in peri menopause. I pray that menopause will come soon and be a help overall rather than a hindrance.

    I wonder if a) estrogen can’t be subscribed to me bc endometriosis is estrogen driven

    B) question to all has peri menopause increased ANXIETY for some of you? Like maybe you could handle it and now during key phases of cycle you feel very intense anxiety and palpitations ? I also noticed some days between low iron and hormone fluctuations I get sorta scrambled thoughts, harder to articulate my thoughts and speak and think fluidly?

    • Esmom says:

      I have always battled anxiety so it’s hard for me to tell if menopause increased it. I don’t think so. But your description of not being able to articulate your thoughts happened to me after I had my first child. I went back to work and was truly unable to get back into the same form with client presentations and work discussions that I was in prior to pregnancy. It was really bad and never improved all that much. I still feel cognitively duller even 18 years later. It had to have been hormonal, at least initially.

    • FhMom says:

      It’s definitely increased my anxiety. I worry about things I never worried about before like getting a parking space whenever I go to an event. Packing for a vacation is a small nightmare. I think increased anxiety is pretty common.

    • Felicia says:

      @Barrett: oh yes. Anxiety, panic attacks and heart palpitations. None of which I’d ever had before. “Brain fog”… very frustrating as well. Hot flashes and night sweats.

      I suppose that the interrupted sleep from the night sweats probably contributes to the anxiety and brain fog. The mere thought of another panic attack along with the heart palpitations that go with it, is capable of bringing one on in a twisted closed-loop menopausal bit of f*ckery. Sometimes it feels like an alien has taken control of my brain and body.

      I’ve upped the amount of exercise I do and lowered my caffeine intake, which helps a bit.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Yes to all of your last paragraph, including more emotionally reactive ( sadness )in general…but maybe it’s because of 11/8/16 for me. I’m 52 1/2, and things are getting better as far as the reduced mental clarity, emotionality, anxiety. A sense of calm is slowly returning, which I have noticed along with a decrease in frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Stay hopeful, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Aurelia says:

      Defo anxiety. It’s due to the drop in progesterone. Palpitations are estrogen defiicency. Ahh, it all sucks.

  13. teehee says:

    Dude, I got PCOS, its always this way. Essentially without ovulation for a good 20 years Ive been in menopause for my adult life so far. I have the humor to think that once I finally get my cycle going and can ovulate, actual menopause will start :P

  14. Jerusha says:

    I became vegetarian at 39 and 10 years later when menopause hit, my periods just stopped. That was it-no mood swings, no hot flashes, no weight gain, nothing. Just no more periods. That was my experience. There have been some studies indicating low fat, high fiber diets help. Check out the research if you’re a younger woman yet to experience menopause.

  15. minx says:

    She seems like a nice person but I find her “nobody told me” thing a little disinegenuous. Baby boomer women have been in menopause for many years so there is lots of information out there, she just wasn’t tuned into it. She didn’t discover these issues.

    • Justme says:

      That’s true. However it is also true that this is sort of the undereported menopause symptom, Everyone knows about hot flashes (which I never got) and weight gain. But painful sex is so at odds with the current “we all stay sexy forever” zeitgeist – and “older women can go for younger men and why not” mood, that it gets swept under the rug. Most articles just say something about getting some good lube (which doesn’t even begin to help). And then go on to say that most women don’t have this problem at all – “they say sex is better than ever”. It leads those women who experience just the opposite to feel like weird losers. So it’s a good thing to give this some publicity.

  16. Eileen says:

    “I hope it’s not as bad as they say”

    I am sure, like pregnancy, menses, etc everyone’s experiences’ are different. If you don’t have it, doesn’t mean it isn’t horrible for them. I am sure that is what you meant though.

  17. Tessa Squire says:

    Nobody told me what would happen and I’ve been to medical school

  18. Nikki says:

    EVERYONE: don’t laugh, but the latest issue of AARP has an excellent article on menopause, with updated facts, though they didn’t get into types of hormone replacement therapy. I have to tell you to try natural products first, and if they don’t help your symptoms, find a doctor who treats menopause. The landmark study on hormone replacement that was terminated early due to so many women developing cancer was testing Premarin, which is not a bio-identical hormone, but one derived from horses!! Also, I don’t think they were combined with progesterone, which they need to be to be safer. My mom had breast cancer, but there is no cancer upsurge for women on bio-identical hormone replacement for five years or less, and oodles of benefits. It’s your body and your life, so educate yourself. I am very wary of pharmaceuticals; they’re out to make money, so research them carefully. The estrogen patch with progesterone made a huge difference in my life. I’m now thinking of just going to an estrogen cream in my vagina, but I have to research that first.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Can you be specific about your claims related to bio-identical hormones? Would you post a link to the studies that support it? My mother and sister both had breast CA, and one cousin died of breast CA, another of endometrial CA, so no hormone treatment for me. There are no conventional oncologists or breast surgeons or gynos I know who are willing to buck the orthodoxy and prescribe- not that I would be willing to take the risk at this time.

      • Nikki says:

        I understand that completely! Although my mom had breast cancer, I was tested and don’t carry the BRCA gene (It doesn’t mean one won’t ever get cancer, but you don’t carry the gene that indicates a very high probability). My doctor, who has extensive education in menopause and solely treats women, got angry when my radiologist recommended I go off hormones, and she exclaimed, “That’s SO unprofessional and irresponsible! Studies have shown absolutely no increased cancer risk for women on hormone replacement for less than five years!” So that’s where I heard it. BUT, I was on a low, minimal dose of bio-identical estrogen (not Premarin, etc.) in combination with progesterone, and my doctor tested my hormone levels regularly. Before hormone therapy, not only did I sweat profusely 26 times a day, I could not sleep; I was going crazy from lack of sleep! I think it’s enormously important to find a doctor who is really up on menopause treatments and research. I moved, and now I have to find one myself: ugh!

      • Nikki says:

        Also, NSSButterfly, might I add that I wish you the very best. I hope the Big C never finds us (knock wood), and I’m so sorry for your family’s illness and loss. I had to pay my own money to get the BRCA test, (rotten insurance!) but I wanted to know the exact situation. It’s very difficult to know what to do sometimes.

  19. Who ARE these people? says:

    I’ve wondered if I were told would I have believed it. The hair loss, the shrunken lips, the joint pains, the sleep changes, the dry skin…it goes on and on. Sone more of a shock than others. We did not evolve to stay cute forever.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      I think the lack of open conversation about it with women who are younger is along the lines of not sharing pregnancy/ labor horrors as an act of kindness, lol. I was in my third trimester before my sister told me about pooping involuntary in the bed during labor. Thanks, sis!

      • isabelle says:

        Men need have the conversation as well about their changes and they themselves go through hormonal changes. They chase young women because they have been falsely led into beleiving they are as fertile as they were in their 20s and viral until old age. Which is a gigantic lie.

      • Nikki says:

        ha, ha, Isabella: didn’t you watch “Moonstruck”? Men chase young women so they can deny they’re going to die someday! (Sorry, that was one of my favorite movies, and Olympia Dukakis’s character finds the explanation!)

  20. Malachite says:

    No! After finally getting relief from years of painful cramps, excruciating ovarian cysts and unpredictable periods due to PCOS, plus insane mood issues during PMS, I do not want to think about this. I am 39, was finally having the most satisfying sex of my life (am going through breakup with partner of eight years right now), and Jesus F’ing Christ, why do lady bodies have to be so complicated and full of woe?!!!!!

  21. Amy Tennant says:

    I had a hysterectomy at 31, and then an oophorectomy a couple of years later, so my menopause happened early and all at once. The painful intercourse is a true thing– I did use Premarin, as someone mentioned above (made from PREgnant MARe uRINe, I believe), but I didn’t like it, so I didn’t use it very long. It was an internal cream, kind of like when you’re using monistat, and it irritated me, so that was that. Couldn’t use any kind of pills because of hypertension. However, the premarin cream might work for some of you.

    I had a good (female) obgyn at the time, and she was very good at answering my questions and monitoring how I was doing, even when I was embarrassed to be talking about it. My friends were all about my age so they hadn’t gone through it. I recommend most of all having a doctor you can trust! I wish I could still go to her, but she is so amazingly awesome she’s left her private practice for a while to go help the CDC study and defeat Zika!

    There was a product by Pure Romance that I used too called something like Just Like Me, or something like that– it was good. Don’t discount the power of lube the older you get.

  22. Electric Tuba says:

    Oh good I’ll never escape the pain and misery of being alive. Look at what fresh hell awaits me. FML

  23. Pandy says:

    Six years post menopause. Flashes are not constant anymore, thank GOD!!! Now they are more seasonal – every change of season, they flare up for a few weeks. But haven’t had the painful intercourse issue. Lube would be enough for me I think. We won’t all get every symptom out there. I tried bio identical hormones the first few years, but didn’t get much relief of my hot flashes, which were/are my worst issues (now that my homicidal rage has subsided as well lol). Time helps … and lube.

  24. Nancypants says:

    I went through it fairly recently and didn’t experience painful intercourse or anger, however, I’ve been saying all along that women don’t WARN each other.

    I’ll enlighten you: It’s different for every woman.
    It can last 2 or 3 YEARS. You might go 6 months without a period and think, “Well, that’s it.”, and then need to call in sick to work one or two days because you are bleeding out and I never had heavy periods.

    Night sweats? You wake up several times a night drenched. Your hair and PJs are soaked and you can wipe sweat from your arms like you just ran a marathon. You have to get up and clean up a little and change your clothes. I got to the point of putting a box of baby wipes on the night table and placing a couple of t-shirts across the foot of the bed so I wouldn’t have to get up.

    I think the poor sleep and not knowing how long it will last is part of the rage.

    Hot flashes happen day and night and feels like you are coming down with a fever but generally only last a minute or two.

    Being forewarned is forearmed, so, I recommend you do your research and be prepared as much as possible and many of the women you actually know won’t even admit they are menopause age. That’s what the internet is for and a female doctor.

    But once you are through it, no more periods (Seasonal could help with that too. Other subject.) and no more birth control (Mother Nature’s birth control) and no more pregnancies. Love the babes, hated pregnancy.

    You will have to watch your weight more carefully and spend a little more time and effort on your skin and hair but that’s a small price to pay.

    • Spargel says:

      The night sweats, ugh. But as soon as I switched out every scrap of linens on my bed (mattress lining, sheets, blankets/duvets) to 100% cotton–and I mean not an OUNCE of synthetic material on or near my body at night–it stopped. Now if I’m in a hotel with poly stuff, I run those night marathons and drip like hell.

      I doubt it works for everyone but it makes a massive difference for me.

  25. Icantremembermyusername says:

    Breast cancer therapies put me in instant menopause last year. Be very careful with estrogen, ladies. I use Replens but like a maniacal amount. It does work. My tumors are estrogen positive so, ppfftttt.

  26. Icantremembermyusername says:

    People- you have to use the MOISTURIZER- every day- and lube when needed. It’s not a thing you help by occasional use. Moisture every day like your face! Then lube when – you know.

  27. Bahare says:

    I have tried everything and Replens is the best non-estrogen moisturizer and biodentical estrogen cream in small amounts works well. Some health professionals recommend balancing it with progesterone cream but you probably should ask your doc. Smoky Mountain Naturals brand works well for me but there are other brands or compounding pharmacies that offer similar products.

  28. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    It’s every bit as bad. I’ve had debilitating hot flashes for at least six years now. Sex is… impossible. So very painful. I can’t do HRT as it was the cause of losing my mom to breast cancer. Hair loss. Extreme mood swings. Anxiety. I live with headaches every day and have full-blown migraines at least three times a month that last for three or more days. I’m a walking textbook of heinous menopausal symptoms, but I kind of expected it because my periods were painful and thoroughly symptomatic since age 10, and my three pregnancies were monitored very closely, and I was bed-ridden for most of the time because of dangerous complications following near-death trauma for both me and my first son. So perhaps those irritatingly perfect women who breeze through pregnancies and soar through perfectly predictable periods will experience their ‘changes’ with minimal inconveniences. Good for them. For the rest of us, this shit is real, and it frakking sucks like nothing has ever sucked before lol.

    • .... says:

      I hear you mabs…….
      I too have Debilitating migraines. Cannot plan for anything, make an appointment, etc…..because there’s always a four day in bed migraine w vomiting etc Around the corner. (w days of fatigue and aura before and after). For. Years.

    • NYC_girl says:

      Have you tried botox for the headaches? I had horrible migraines years ago, and was desperate. I found a neurologist here in NYC who was administering botox. I started going just when it was approved for medical use and my insurance covered it. The injections were mainly in my scalp. I get a migraine once a month for 1 or 2 days, so wasn’t as severe as you, but it didn’t work for me. Maybe for you it could work?

    • isabelle says:

      My mom, nothing except some mood swings. No hot flashes, slept well, no hair loss, etc. Didn’t even know she has went through until she told me years later. Some women are lucky to have very few symptoms.

  29. NYC_girl says:

    I had breast cancer 4 years ago and a few months after my mastectomy I had a full hysterectomy. I have also been taking tamoxifen since (**shitshow**). I was really really scared having sex last year – I kept reading about painful sex, and lack of lube, and a general low libido happening, but it never did. The guy I was dating ended up being a massive jerk, but I had probably the best sex of my older adult years with him before it headed south. No pain or lube issues. I think everyone is different. My gyno said “use it or lose it” and really encouraged me to have sex. I am almost 50 now. The hot flashes SUCK but I started acupuncture a few weeks ago and am giving that a chance. I can’t take HRT in any form because my breast cancer was ER positive. Now, if I could just meet a decent guy…LOL

    • megan says:

      I had bilateral mastectomy followed by a hysterectomy as well (2012 and 2013). Unfortunately I feel totally DEAD down there. I use coconut oil to help things along, and then fake it. Its really really sad…I used to enjoy it. Damn BC!

      For those suffering from rage, I suggest yoga and make sure it includes the savasana at the end…makes all the difference. Also quit watching the news and enjoy your IRL friends and family :)

  30. spidee!!! says:

    Just a little calmer downer for some folks who still have to go through it – I was in a bad place in my life when mine hit, horrible time at work and carer for a mother with dementia. I sailed through it with no symptoms whatsoever. The last few periods were heavier but not disastrously so, no mood swings, no hot sweats, nothing.

  31. Sparkly says:

    Wow, I really appreciate all of you ladies sharing your stories. My mom died long ago, and the only thing I ever remember her mentioning was coming home from work after turning 35 (she really had a thing against aging) and declaring that menopause was just around the corner so from now on she was going to be a bitch.

  32. Sharylmj says:

    I’m 54 and have been going through this for about 4 years now, it’s not fun. I have all the bad stuff including extremely painful sex. That’s the part I hate the most – thankfully I have a loving and supportive husband going through it with me. We just find other ways to connect with each other and are very affectionate (lots of hugs and kisses). I’ve tried lubes, creams, estrogen ointment, products to numb everything – nothing helps with painful sex. Keeping it moisturized down there helps with just the daily general discomfort though. I found an aloe product that works pretty well. Sounds like I’m in the middle of the road with my symptoms after reading this thread. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone or over reacting – thank you all for sharing.

  33. .... says:

    Try baths at night w epsom, and organic coconut or olive oil.

  34. Grace says:

    This is something that (cough..cough) sorely needs to be discussed! Nothing helps with vaginal atrophy except hormones, whether topical or systemic. And, it takes time for them to work, so be patient as you use them. The longer you have atrophy, the “worse” it can get. I had early menopause and it was a wild ride. Took about 8 years for the effects to kick in…like wrinkles, loss of collagen, pain,, etc…. But the broken vagina aspect didn’t take that long!.Women need to be taught about all this, just like young girls need to learn about menstruation, etc.! Ok, rant over ! Take care ladies. We are STRONG!!!

  35. Vintage says:

    There is a laser treatment called Mona Lisa Touch that helps a lot. Unfortunately it is expensive. Doctors totally fail to prep women for menopause especially that some can go through as early as their 40s.

  36. maraidh says:

    Menopause has been a constant in my life since a Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis at age 29. First the chemo put me into chemical menopause; when the chemo ended, I came back out of menopause. Then along came Tamoxifen…menopause again. Then came another breast cancer diagnosis, more chemo, more radiation. I have gone in and out of menopause more times than should be legal! I can’t ever do HRT, or anything with even the smallest trace of estrogen in it. So, here I am, going into my 28th year of this menopause fun. Seriously, though, I am not even supposed to be alive so I just laugh at the hot flashes from hell. I am happy that women are talking about this more freely than before. It is about time.

  37. Ann says:

    I am I over sex, sex is pretty overrated anyhow. Life is good.

  38. Erbs says:

    My problem with menopause: vaginal dryness. I need some yam lube or something.

  39. stinky says:

    i really thought *for sure* i was the only post-pausal Celebitchy reader! Despite all my rage, i am still just a rat in a cage.

  40. Blueskies says:

    I am post-menopausal at 47. I was fortunate to have an easy time with peri and meno after years of increasingly erratic periods culminating in fibroid surgery at 38. I haven’t been in a relationship for a few years, and with that, no sex (not by choice! It’s just gone that way). I’ve definitely noticed dryness when it comes to masturbation, and my libido and what’s going on physically don’t always line up, quite frustrating. I’ve never had to use lube in the past and I’m not bothered enough to get any. If and when intimacy with someone happens again, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Non-physical stimuli still seems to work well. I can also vouch for weight not wanting to shift either way, regardless of diet and exercise, also annoying.

  41. crummycake says:

    I went through this specific problem a few years ago and it was so horrible–I didn’t want to have sex anymore because it hurt so badly. Not to get too graphic but I lost elasticity and it felt like it would tear. And no matter how much lubricant I used, it still felt really uncomfortable because the tissue was not stretching. It seems like nobody really talks about things like this so I thought there was something wrong with me & suffered in silence for about a year. I finally found a great medical provider who put me on topical estriol cream and what a difference that has made!!! It’s not completely back to what was ‘normal’ for me, but at least my husband and I can have relations once or twice a week without any major discomfort. Now I won’t shut up about menopause and vaginal issues (just ask my friends LOL) because I really think it’s important for women to speak openly about their bodies so we can all help support eachother & share potential treatments that helped.