Help: Weird symptoms. Are these menopause related?

For those of you who are just beginning this wonderful process, here we can narrow down the symptoms and ask questions like "am I starting perimenopause?"

Help: Weird symptoms. Are these menopause related?

Postby coulditbe » Wed Oct 27, 2004 6:19 pm

I am approaching my 32nd birthday in a couple days and uncertain about what it going on. In June of 02 I had a complete hysterectomy (uterus & cervix), the procedure was done vaginally. I had non invasive cervical cancer. Due to my age the Dr. felt it was best to leave the ovaries. Recently I have been experiencing hot flashes. Everyone else seems to be comfortable while I am burning up. I have on several occasions over the past 4 months gone to my primary care Dr. with the belief I had Bacterial Vaginosis (very foul vaginal fishy odor), however the test come back negative as have other std test that the Dr has performed. This odor (very bothersome) comes and goes. Sometimes it will linger for a week or two, then suddenly it is gone, but seems to come back. This has been very frustrating to know something is going on, but the Dr. doesn't seem to have any answer. My primary Dr. told me to eat cottage cheese and yougurt as well as douche with vinegar & water. I have no idea what the cottage cheese is supposed to do and everything I have ever read says do not douche. So I scheduled and went to my first appointment with a new Gyn this week and of course I had been symptom free for about 5 days before my appointment. We discussed the hot flashes and think it may be possible that the odor is being caused by hormonal changes as this happened during my first and second pregnancies too. The Gyn gave me a low dose of estrogen to try. I have not started yet as I am curious if anyone else has experienced this with "the change of life"? Last night I woke up sweating for the first time, twice and the heat was set at 69 degrees. Does menopause cause change with the normal flora in the vagina? Is it possible there is really nothing wrong? I have also been just completely exhausted, I have felt like this for the past couple months. Are these symptoms all a part of menopause?
coulditbe
 

Postby drjudy » Thu Oct 28, 2004 9:48 am

Dear Coulditbe,

A study done on women somewhat older than you (early 40's) who underwent hysterectomy with ovaries left behind found that a significant number of them experienced menopause within two years of the surgery. I have not heard a definite explanation for this, but perhaps the hysterectomy somehow disrupts ovarian blood or nerve supply. So it is not unusual for a woman to lose ovarian hormones several years after a hysterectomy.

There are no experts, however gloomy they feel about hormone therapy, who would have any qualms about the use of supplemental estrogen in a woman your age. The North American Menopause Society specifically states that the findings from the Women's Health Initiative (the large study of hormone therapy in women post-menopause) do not apply to younger women experiencing menopause for whatever reason. I agree with your new gynecologist that such therapy is a good plan. You actually may be more comfortable with somewhat higher doses than we would use in an older woman, but a low dose is a good place to start. If you are running out of estrogen, your bones, heart, and brain would be better served by not going through a long lifetime without.

Vaginas definitely suffer without estrogen. The acid/base balance gets tipped towards alkaline, and bacteria and yeast enjoy the less acid environment. There is an over-the-counter product called Rephresh, a small amount of odorless clear gel in prefilled applicators, that helps to restore the balance. It can be used regularly. Replacing your estrogen, however, may help, as might vaginal estrogen. I often treat women for bacterial vaginitis based on smell alone.

If you are experiencing an early perimenopause, it may be that you will note that your symptoms come and go. I'm glad that you are seeking help, however, because hot flashes, night sweats, and bad vagina days are no way to spend your 30's (or 40's, 50's, 60's.....)!

Best wishes,
Judy
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