Notes From a Single Mom: Hot Flash!—Did Whacky Hormones Ruin my Marriage?

Lynn Armitage

Is it just me or is it really HOT in here?

Sadly—and prematurely—it happens to be “just me.” Seems I’ve boarded that non-stop train for menopause a wee bit early. (You haven’t officially arrived in menopause until you’ve missed a period for an entire year.) Doctors say it’s genetic. Thanks to my grandma, who went through “the change” at 38, I’ve been cheated out of the sexiest years of my life. “Hot and sweaty” has a whole new meaning now.

Menopause marks the end of childbearing years. OK by me. But as the ovaries prepare to cough up that last egg, your body goes through hormonal hell anywhere from six months to 10 years prior to it. During “premenopause,” estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels decrease and become imbalanced, causing mood swings, sleeplessness, depression, fatigue, unexplained weight gain (no, you can’t lose weight from night sweats) and other unwelcome problems.

All this time, I thought it was the side effects of single parenting. What a relief to discover that so much of my erratic behavior in the last few years can be blamed on hormonal imbalance:

Impatience with my kids. . . hormones. Dates I never called back . . hormones. Angry columns I banged out . . . hormones. Thelma and Louise flooring it into the Grand Canyon . . . DEFINITELY hormones.

The big question is: Did hormonal imbalance cause the break-up of my marriage? I’m not going to let the ex-husband off that easily, but it does make me wonder. Hormones are mysterious, yet powerful little boogers. Anyone with PMS can attest to that. An imbalance can cause moodiness, despondency, overreactions and a low sex drive.

Little things that, over time, can erode any marriage.

I’ve talked to enough doctors and perused countless websites on this passage in a woman’s life—from raging hormones to whimpering ones—to know that hormonal balance is critical to our overall well-being. It’s why I’ve decided to go on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. (Their molecular structure mimic those produced naturally by the body.)

“Fill ‘er up with estrogen, please.”

Already, it’s done wonders for me. I’m sleeping better, have amazing energy and my skin glows. Suzanne Somers makes a very convincing argument for bioidentical HRT in her controversial book, “The Sexy Years.” I encourage all menopausal women to read it. While you’re at it, have your doctor check your hormone levels. Perhaps the reason you feel so empty inside is because you really are.

Another popular herbal remedy for symptoms related to menopause is black cohosh, a Native American word that means “knobby rough roots.” Native Americans used black cohosh to treat uterine disorders, such as menstrual and menopausal symptoms, as well as other ailments, such as diarrhea, sore throat and arthritis. However, as one medical source states, “The strength of the plant’s estrogen-like effects has been disputed, and the exact way black cohosh works in the body is not well understood.”

OK, maybe, just maybe, imbalanced hormones played a small part in the demise of my marriage. I should talk to the ex-husband and explain the whole silly thing to him. We’ll have a good laugh, get back together and live happily-ever-after on natural hormone replacement therapy.

Hey…I’m premenopausal. Not crazy.

Back off—Freelance writer Lynn Armitage feels a sudden hot flash coming on. She is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t confuse bioidentical HRT with the synthetic versions—Premarin and Provera—which have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart disease, according to a study by the Women’s Health Initiative.

What’s more, because some types of cancer, such as breast, uterine, ovarian, and endometrial cancer, may be stimulated by estrogen, some herbalists warn that black cohosh may be dangerous for people who have cancer.

ALWAYS consult a doctor, first, before starting any medication.


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Notes From a Single Mom: Hot Flash!—Did Whacky Hormones Ruin my Marriage?