“Are you ready, miss?” he called. I shuffled up the bed, knees trembling with anticipation. He’d done this before and I knew I was in good hands but I couldn’t help but wonder just how long we’d be at it for. Swishing my hair to one side as he entered the room, my eyes caught his and I gave him a nervous smile.
“Hey, just relax. You’ll be fine” his soothing Irish accent did have a calming effect, I have to say. His dark hair, deep green eyes and white coat would normally have been enough to melt my heart.
But this was not something out of 50 Shades of Grey or any other clit-lit for that matter, this was a virginal exam.
My name is Hollie, I’m 23 and I’m going through the menopause. Fuck.
You see, I’ve always been old before my time – I’m a member of the W.I (albeit a very young W.I), I crochet, I make a cracking pie and I’m not offended by a lavender draw liner. But this – the hot flushes, excess sweating and infertility was something else. Despite being a writer and a blogger, this is the first time I’ve put manicured nails to keyboard and wrote about the other side to my life. It all started with missing a few periods, several severe mood swings and cramping beyond belief. Then came the night sweats in winter, the hot flushes during the day and yes, the vaginal dryness.
So off to my doctor I went with a list filled with dates, times and menopausal symptoms. Of course, as a 22 year old overweight woman he laughed me away. So I went again. And again. And again. And then I had a bit of sexy surgery on my bits to remove some troublesome cysts. And then again. And again. And a possible diagnosis of PCOS. And again. And again until I became a fully signed up member of the Menopause Club.
I know it might seem I’m being blasé but don’t worry, I did my fair share of crying. My non-menopausal mum sat with me as I cried about not being able to sleep because of the night sweats and the dreaded infertility issues.
Did I ever see myself being a mum? I don’t know if I did. But once the diagnosis hit, it was all I could think of. I guess when you’ve never had something, you can’t complain about it being taken away from you but the loss of my fertility was a grieving process.
I’m lucky that my uni (NTU represent!) offered fantastic counselling and I was able to talk through my grief, talk through the loss of a certain part of my future and discuss the impact it would have on myself and my boyfriend.
For me, the worst part was not feeling like a woman. Sometimes, when I’m watching Jeremy Kyle and eating Coco Pops, I sob because so many other women can pop out kids at a rate of knots and I’m unable to. After all, we grow up believing that women have children and that’s it. I was a girly girl, I had Barbies and beautiful dolls that I treasured. Even in my teens and early 20s as I fledged a career in journalism, I saw these women who “had it all”- career, gorgeous husband, nice house, Jimmy Choos and kids named Clemence and Tobias. I wanted to have a little Tobias William Esquire.
As corny as it is, time is a healer. Over the past 9 months or so, I’ve managed to get used to the hot flushes and I think I’m mainly over the infertility thing. I count myself lucky I’ve got an inspiring, clever other half who supports me no matter what and that we’re both happy and healthy.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the future. I’m not taking HRT because of the health concerns, especially at my age. I’m coping with it right now and that’s fine. Some days are worse than others, sometimes the insomnia is horrid and sometimes I throw strops about the most stupid things but it’s not cervical cancer or some other life threatening disease and I’m thankful to my vagina and lady bits for that.
So, as I finish the most honest article of my life, I ask you to raise a cheer to your healthy vagina and enjoy your vigorous libido whilst you can. Cheers!
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