What it is like going through menopause in your mid 30s…

What it is like going through menopause in your mid 30s…

When Jessica started experiencing swelling and pain in her gums, she didn’t even consider it to be a sign of menopause. 

“Could you be pregnant?” Her doctor asked, “Because women going through major hormonal changes often face these issues.”

As Jessica was in her early 30s, pregnancy seemed to be the most probable cause of her concerns, as opposed to menopause.

“You’re young so you don't think that it's going to happen to you at that age.” She said, “So I kind of thought okay, I'm weird, and I got on with my life.”

However, she began experiencing hot flushes, which doctors dismissed as a fever. Having recently returned from a trip to Mexico back home to Sweden, she was instructed to take a typhoid test to determine whether that was the source of her symptoms. 

“I live in Sweden where it's like minus degrees in winter, but I would come to the office and open all the windows… that's when I went to the doctor here.” Jessica explained.

“Because I guess I'm a Third World person, they asked me, ‘when was the last time you were in Mexico?’ And it had only been some months…So they gave me a test for a disease because I had hot flushes and they thought it was a kind of a fever. But they completely ignored everything else I said.” 

Her period had also begun to disappear, which doctors assumed was a result of her consistent training regime.

Feeling like her concerns were being dismissed, Jessica struggled with her mental health. 

“I started getting quite depressed, I felt quite alone… it's like you completely lose joy or meaning in your life.”

She moved back to Mexico to see if her well being would improve, but it only worsened. 

Finally, Jessica connected with a gynaecologist her friend had recommended. 

After a year of desperately searching for answers, she received the news that she was going through menopause at 34 years old.

[The gynaecologist] said ‘you have a hormone profile of a woman in her 50s.’…That was the first time I heard [about] it.”

Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 is called premature menopause, and affects approximately 1 percent of women according to NHS Inform. Around 5 percent of women go through early menopause, which happens between the ages of 40-45 (NHS Inform, 2023).

As time passed, Jessica slowly realised the magnitude of how menopause would alter her life’s course.

“I didn't really understand the whole consequence of it and then slowly I started to realise..[I couldn’t have] children…. The [doctor] just drops the news and that's it, you have to deal with it. So for me that was the toughest part.” She reflected.

“I never got treated for depression because of menopause. It was treated more like mental instability. But now when I look back, of course I was mentally unstable... You get the news that you're not able to have babies...Of course it's a tough thing to go through.”

Menopause can occur earlier due to a variety of factors such as medical treatment, like chemotherapy, surgery, auto-immune disease, genetic factors or certain infections. However, most women that experience premature or early menopause don’t receive a clear answer as to why.

Still to this day, Jessica doesn’t know why she became part of the 1% of women that experience premature menopause. Her mother went through menopause at an “average” age of 45, Jessica hadn’t undergone any surgeries or treatments that could have triggered it, she had no pre-existing conditions, she didn’t smoke, so why her?

“I went to another doctor because I wanted to find out why but no one could tell me,” She said. “Some said it’s genetic…but no one in my close family has had problems with fertility.”

Premature menopause also made dating more challenging.

“It was weird because I was still in my fertile years, so when I was dating, my dilemma was always 'when do I tell this person I'm meeting that I cannot have children in a natural way.’” She said, "When I started my 40s, I was like ‘phew!’. Now I can go and date without having to worry about telling people that I cannot have a child. Now I'm over the reproductive age so I can date with dignity without feeling that I have to hide something.”

Jessica explained the surprising impacts her experiences have had on how she views her own femininity.

“I’ve felt so disconnected from my body as a woman. I talk to my friends and they're like, ‘I'm in a bad mood, I have PMS’ or ‘I'm super horny, I'm ovulating.’ Everybody talks about life in relation to their cycle. I didn't have a cycle. So for me it was really weird. I got completely disconnected from my feminine side.” 

Whilst experiencing menopause at such a young age continues to present challenges, Jessica emphasises the importance of seeking support.

“Since then I have to go through yearly checkups to check my bones, and I eat vitamins. That's something that no one tells you about. I'm actually going through menopause again, I'm getting the symptoms all over again. Gaining weight and a lot of pain in my body that I didn't experience before when I got it the first time.” She explained.

“Just to read that someone else is feeling the same as you do, it changes your world. For me, that has been the most helpful.”

Despite menopausal symptoms being severe for many women, they are forced to mask their struggles and perform their usual tasks. In the future, Jessica hopes that women won’t feel ashamed of the natural processes their bodies undergo, particularly in the workplace. 

“You still have to go to work and keep your face up. I remember I was going to the toilet and crying, and then going back to work. That has to change at some point, the way we are still expected to deliver…. I hope one day we can get to that point where we are actually allowed to rule and do work from our feminine side.”

  • NHS Inform. (2023, March 22). Early and premature menopause. https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/womens-health/later-years-around-50-years-and-over/menopause-and-post-menopause-health/early-and-premature-menopause.


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