The Triple P

Or Perimenopause, Puberty and Periods. It is with much trepidation and confusion that I approach these three Ps. A very strange period (excuse the pun!) of life for me as one who’s never experienced one of the three.

Two of these three Ps do not involve me, but my daughter. Puberty and periods. Those two Ps for me are long past, and of course, one of which never came. She’s nearly nine, so we’re not there yet. I don’t yet expect an imminent first period or all the other trappings of puberty that roll in around that Thing, the P, which, for most people reading this I expect, never came.

But all of a sudden she’s becoming a big girl, no longer so small that I can easily carry her, no longer easily able to fit into my lap when she cries.

All of a sudden a friend’s daughter of a similar age is experiencing early onset puberty.

All of a sudden my daughter is reading pre-teen books that talk about periods and puberty and we talk openly about what will likely, or may not, happen.

She knows about MRKH and the beauty of how she was carried by her aunt. She understands that I don’t bleed like most women. And when I talk of my own cycle and hormones she tells me I do have a period, it’s just a bloodless one.

A statement which warms my damaged heart!

While she grows too fast and races too quickly towards the most likely inevitable, I too wind down towards my next cycle of life: Perimenopause.

At 41, I have noticed a change. Perhaps the changes are more subtle to those of us without the bleeding part, perhaps the creep towards the Perimenopause started earlier than I realised. For so many years I was clueless to my cycle, knowing I sometimes had sore boobs but that was about it. It wasn’t really until we did IVF that I began to pay attention and realised with the help of ovulation kits that I indeed did have a cycle and that it was the standard, regular 28 days. What a joy that was to realise my body had been popping out the eggs all that time, without me really knowing for sure.

During my sister in law’s pregnancy with our daughter I induced lactation, taking oestrogen and domperidone. And after our daughter was born and I eventually stopped breastfeeding I noticed immediate changes in my cycle. Perhaps exacerbated by the hormone changes or by severe sleep deprivation, while remaining regular my cycles become far more wild, and unpredictable in severity, the moods and symptoms next level.

And then about a year ago I noticed a drop off. The regularity vanished, and in its place was an uncomfortable unpredictability. One cycle I would have harsh symptoms only three weeks apart, the next would be nine weeks apart. And the intensity of the symptoms changed, ramping up so that I started to experience rage like I’ve never felt, anxiety that bounced through my heart like a pinball. Bloating and cramps. Breasts so sore for weeks on end that I wanted rid of them completely.

I started sweating at night, waking drenched in pools of it, feeling like I had wet the bed, my chest dripping, my PJ’s soaked to me. Finally, just two months ago I experienced my first proper hot flush during the day and I finally admitted to myself that I had arrived at the town of Perimenopause.

My whole adult life, since before my diagnosis even, I have struggled with the medical stuff around my gynaecological health as a woman. For one of the first times in my life I confidently and successfully advocated for myself with the GP’s nurse practitioner. I called her up to discuss Perimenopause and dived right in with the whole “MRKH I don’t have a uterus” monologue. And she was brilliant. Curious and kind. Asking questions and apologising for not having heard of MRKH before. Then she set me up with all the blood tests, told me not to worry about where in my cycle I was or wasn’t, because, she told me, by the time a woman experiences the symptoms I’ve been having, the point in her cycle no longer matters.

Those words were like something cutting me free from an invisible rope which has long bound me. I didn’t expect, of all things, to feel the freedom I now feel approaching the menopause. The levelling of ground with my female peers after so many years of feeling at odds with them. Now I can talk HRT, night sweats and other shared symptoms. The feeling of being a fraud is ebbing enough to bring a confidence in my feminine health I also never imagined. A calm acceptance of this new phase.

And I will end on this: without a womb we can get the pure oestrogen pills, which according to my nurse is the star racehorse of the HRTs. So there, another silver lining to MRKH I never knew existed!

As my daughter heads into her next phase, as her hormones start ramping up and her body starts to prepare for puberty, so mine edges away from this part of a woman’s physical life. And I turn to it with a strange relief. And hope that my new HRT will help me navigate the storm of my daughter’s puberty, ha!

(Obviously I am not a medical professional and these are not medical opinions on HRT or recommendations. Only my own experience and interpretation following my personal medical consultations.)

This is the fourth post from Mary in the series #mummingwithmrkh read the first A Mum is Made, Grief and Ripples and January Reflections and keep following for the next one!

Mary (@mrotherywrites) is a writer of stories about women. She writes with focus on motherhood and infertility, trauma and loss, hope and love. She is currently working on her first novel and has recently had short stories and articles published by Motherscope, Five Minute Lit and Pure Slush Books. A mother of one and Content Manager by day, Mary writes in her spare time from her home on the Sussex coast of England, where she lives with her daughter, her husband and her dog.

For more information on MRKH and the Menopause see our dedicated resource.