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Menopause - more than hot flashes!

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  • Menopause - more than hot flashes!

    I've done searches, and didn't find many threads really dedicated to peri/menopause. I don't know that's what I'm experiencing, but it appears to be the only diagnosis that covers all of my symptoms, and I'm a little older than my mother and maternal grandmother were when they went through menopause, though younger than the average. I developed horrific plantar fasciitis first, and went to PT for it. Just assumed perhaps I'd needed new shoes for myself sooner than I'd bought them. But now, I'm having what I assume are migraines, heart palpitations, tingling extremities, and fatigue - but the fatigue could be a secondary symptom. I've had some weird GI issues on and off as well. I've also got a slow pulse rate (bradycardia) and I've been running a pretty low body temp, like 96.2, AFTER doing horse stalls! The only thing I've not experienced is a hot flash, lol. I've worked out for decades, competing in 5Ks and weight lifting competitions, and stay active and eat decently well. This is shocking to me - I've barely ridden the last 5 weeks, and have lost sleep literally wondering if I'm about to have a stroke/heart attack.

    Doctor initially wondered if it was a sinus infection, so abx. Also ran battery of blood tests (thyroid dead center of ranges), and now scheduled for a stress test. If no answers there, will ask about testing hormones.

    Anyway, coming to COTH for insight - how bad was menopause for you? Anyone have a similarly weird laundry list of symptoms? How long before you adjusted? Did you take HRT or alternatives that worked?
    Last edited by LilyandBaron; Jan. 22, 2020, 09:51 AM.

  • #2
    Oh my goodness. So, no insight as to whether that’s menopause or not, but you could have written my symptoms for me. Mine started with plantar also, came out of the blue. I thought I just walked for too long in flip flops (although I’ve always walked in flip flops, seems a strange assumption). Bradycardia (check), low body temps (check). I do have night sweats, but that isn’t terrifically abnormal for me.

    I hope you find an answer and share it, because I hadn’t connected mine to peri/menopause.


    • #3
      You have low thyroid
      look up the website “stop the thyroid madness”
      Your thyroid seriously needs to be addressed, and unfortunately most doctors are going to want to put you on Synthroid. resist. Actually, you will be lucky if they will even want to put you on thyroid, because if you’re anywhere within the range of somewhat normal they will say you don’t have a problem, but you do period there is a difference between acceptable thyroid levels and optimal thyroid levels and the acceptable levels are truly not that period


      • Original Poster

        I do not have low thyroid. Thorough bloodwork ruled that out. But it was one of the things that was first considered...


        • #5
          It's extremely rare, but your symptoms match Adrenal Insufficiency (Addison's Disease). Ask your doctor to run a fasting a.m. cortisol test if you want to rule it out. You should also have your B12 levels checked (tingling extremities).

          I was diagnosed with Addison's Disease in 2008, but the heart palps didn't start until this past year when I FINALLY went into Menopause. I was scared, too, but they are a fairly common symptom of menopause. In my case, they were triggered by low sodium, which is part of my disease.

          Best of luck in finding an answer!
          Graphic Design & Websites


          • Original Poster

            B12 was normal, but yes, this is so weird. I literally thought menopause was only hot flashes, irritability, weight gain... But going into forums and it can be quite a nightmare! Hoping no impact to my heart, then debating hormone testing or just assume it’s menopause and steal the horses’ fenugreek


            • #7
              I will just share my experience with menopause and take from it what you will. I woke up each morning feeling like I was "dying." I know that sounds strange-I knew I wasn't literally dying, but that's the only way I can describe it. I went to a specialty non-insurance doctor and he ran lots of blood tests and my estrogen was through the floor, as well as other hormonal imbalances. So I went on bioidentical hormones: estradiol patch, progesterone cream, even testosterone for a period. He also gave me other supplements for adrenals temporarily. That was years ago and periodically we tweak my estrogen and progesterone but they have helped immensely. Good luck. I will say that this period of life is a real experience with willingness to leave no stone unturned in taking care of your body and finding out what you need. It is a process. Good luck!


              • Original Poster

                Thank you for sharing! I’m a pretty open person, and when I told co workers I suspected menopause, I realized many are uncomfortable talking about it. Ignorance is not helpful! I also literally stayed wide awake, fearful of going to sleep in case I died! I had/have literal chest pressure and heart arrhythmia. I’m pretty mentally resilient, so feeling “crazy” is hard!!!


                • #9
                  You are welcome. It is actually a very existential experience, if that makes sense. I had a lot of anxiety and fatigue. Part of you, your fertility and parts of your womanhood connected to that, are passing away. That's not for the faint of heart, but we all experience it differently. I think it's helpful to acknowledge that you are going through a milestone, it is difficult but normal, and to tell yourself that you will take care of yourself through the process.

                  As for feeling "crazy," I will share what my father (an OB/GYN) said years ago that I found interesting. He said that women are "addicted" to their estrogens. This is helpful to me because it explains why going through menopause and all the hormonal fluctuations can feel so out of control, like detoxing from a drug.

                  Be gentle with yourself.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LilyandBaron View Post
                    I've done searches, and didn't find many threads

                    Yep! Sounds familiar! I had.....

                    plantar fasciitis pain - check
                    migraines - check
                    heart palpitations - check
                    tingling extremities - check
                    fatigue - check
                    GI issues - check (sometimes slow, sometimes fast)
                    low body temp - check (under 96)

                    For me, my symptoms above that match yours were caused by Hashimoto's. My thyroid levels were "normal", but on the lower end of the range. It was my thyroid antibodies that were very abnormal. Both antibodies were tested, TB/ab and TPO/ab. One was normal. The other was super high. Doctors ignored my wonky thyroid labs because they were in the normal range, and said I was "fine" and to just wait and see. They would not give me thyroid medication even though my labs were on the low side of the range and I had all of the above symptoms. I ended up getting really, really sick to the point of not being able to move my arms or legs. By the time a doctor listened, (5-6 months later) and re-ran my labs, all of my labs were to the extreme side of bad. My antibodies started out as being only in the 1,000's when I was diagnosed. Without getting the right treatment (thyroid replacement hormones) they ended up so high they did not register, up in the many, many thousands.

                    Your symptoms scream thyroid to me. How thorough is thorough for thyroid testing? Did they run the right thyroid labs and check both of your thyroid antibodies? FT3, FT4, TSH, TG/ab, and TPO/ab. If they did not run all of these tests, and your FT3 and FT4 are not currently at or above mid-range and did not test two these two thyroid antibodies, then there is no way to conclude that the problem is not your thyroid or autoimmune thyroid.

                    (All of the above symptoms went away or improved for me with the right thyroid medication, BTW.)

                    None of your symptoms sound like perimenopause or menopause in my experience (emphasis on my experience because you know: YMMV). Your symptoms are the same as the ones I had when I was diagnosed with thyroid disease, but they got much worse until I got the right kind of treatment. The big menstrual change just started happening this past spring for me at age 51. It started with severe and ongoing migraines and at the same time a sudden 79 day cycle. I had horrific daily migraines every day 24/7 for days upon days/weeks/months. My estrogen was high, and that is likely what caused my migraines. I started taking natural prescription progesterone, and that helped regulate my period quite a bit. Recently I had two 2 week long cycles which earned me a trip to the GYN last week and a surprise biopsy. The results just came back today. Nothing abnormal or malignant. I am likely anovulatory due to excess estrogen and low progesterone. In other words, welcome to the start of menopause! Now at age 52, these have been my menopausal symptoms so far.

                    I hope are able to solve the cause and resolve the symptoms very soon!


                    • Original Poster

                      I’m definitely suspicious of “normal” range. I don’t have my labs pulled up, but there were 4 results for thyroid, all absolutely middle of the range, not even slightly skewed. I have a co worker that fought bad doctors on thyroid issues, finally finding an integrated medicine doctor to help, so absolutely agree we can’t accept blood tests at face value when everything else points to something.

                      But I really thought menopause was just hot flashes and mood swings. It wasn’t even on my list of options as I did some analysis of competing hypotheses with my symptoms.

                      I feel like this is like our horses with Lyme, ulcers, neuro, KS - which is it???? And like that - I remember a time when no one ever considered ulcers. I guess I just felt shocked to learn that menopause was so broad. Makes sense - both thyroid and menopause relate to major changes in hormones... some whacky stuff.
                      Last edited by LilyandBaron; Dec. 2, 2019, 10:43 PM.


                      • #12
                        you dont mention anything about your period. most women are inconsistent and irregular for a year or two .

                        You might also want to review any prescriptions and over the counters,including herbs, that you may be taking with a pharmacist to see if these could be side effects or adverse events developing

                        I would suggest , if you do not have one already, get to an internist for your primary care. They focus on health of older adults. Pulling blood work to try and work up a complex issue might not be best done in the hands of a GP. A list of complex issues like yours will need thoughtful and methodical work up to rule out other issues. I prefer my doctor to have a narrower focus on the needs of my older self.

                        I would not do HRT, the potential side effect and long term effect is not worth the risk in treating something ( perimenopause) that is normal.
                        -- * > hoopoe
                        Procrastinate NOW
                        Introverted Since 1957


                        • #13
                          It almost sounds like Lyme to me, especially the heart palpitations, tingling and fatigue. Peri-menopause usually comes with big time hot flashes. Could also just be low magnesium levels too.
                          "Do what you can't do"


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LilyandBaron View Post
                            I’m definitely suspicious of “normal” range. I don’t have my labs pulled up, but there were 4 results for thyroid, all absolutely middle of the range, not even slightly skewed.

                            In the 10 years before my thyroid disease diagnosis, I was consistently told my thyroid was "normal". Just like you, I had had no though testing (Complete testing is 5 particular tests. You only had 4, so you know you were not thoroughly tested. The names of your 4 tests will tell you what was left out at the time. "At the time" is important because levels can quickly change. ).

                            Even after I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's; I was STILL told my thyroid levels were "normal"!! How is that even possible, right? That's because the doctor who ran my tests had no business trying to diagnose or treat thyroid disease. He couldn't even interpret my results correctly. He glanced at them, decided they were somewhere in the middle of the range and declared me to be "totally normal!". He ignored my thyroid symptoms, the ones you listed. The only reason he said I had Hashimoto's was that I had high antibodies, but he had no idea how to treat it. He also had no idea how my "normal" 3 other labs came into play with my symptoms. Upon calculating my percentage of the range, my "normal middle range" FT3 and FT4 were actually under 50% of range. If I recall correctly, one was just under 50% and the other was around 40%. (What I know now is that I cannot function unless my thyroid hormones are over 60% but not higher than 70.). That doctor sent me on my merry way and said I did not need to take thyroid medication.

                            Another half year of suffering with my unbearably "normal" thyroid labs later, and I felt much worse! I shuffling through a handful of new doctors, several who claimed to be thyroid specialists. All said my thyroid hormones were normal, that I did not need medication, and turned me loose. By the time I found a doctor who knew what they were talking about and they re-ran my labs, every single lab result was so out of whack, I cried with both frustration of dealing with clueless doctors who had harmed me and with relief of finally having achieved "severely abnormal thyroid labs", and earning the right to finally take thyroid medication. By then a lot of damage had been done. It took 2-3 years to get meds right to where I felt decent again.

                            Anytime I hear someone say their thyroid labs are "normal" and yet they have continually felt like garbage with symptoms that sound like they could stem from thyroid issues, one or two things seem to be the truth: when they calculate their percentage of range, they are in the lower half of the range, and they never had their thyroid antibodies tested in the first place (two antibodies=two different tests), so they have no idea if their thyroid is truly normal or not.

                            Is seeing your co-worker's integrated medicine doctor an option for you?


                            • #15
                              Oh shit. I see I'm not alone. I feel like us women in our 50s get to have it ALL.

                              Anyone take non-prescription thyroid support supplements that are not from China and that won't kill you?


                              • Original Poster

                                So my period is off schedule. I do think there are some weird illnesses. It literally is like horses with things like Lyme, ulcers, EPM, PSSM, various deficiencies, etc. I had a complete metabolic workup, and no deficiencies. I reviewed my bloodwork for anything on the margins, and the only off numbers were high creatinine and low GFR. That could indicate kidney issues, or higher muscle mass than average, which is reasonable since I lift weights. I am going to get more tests, but I really wondered if others on here experienced menopause with similar symptoms. I have seen posts in other forums indicating women have. And didn’t have hot flashes. Responses to this thread reflect my point - we seem to think menopause is primarily hot flashes. But if you dig deeper, that’s not true. I’ll keep working toward a definitive diagnosis, and update when confirmed. Not ruling anything out at this point, but leaning heavily toward menopause as root issue.


                                • #17
                                  I'm late to this but wanted to chime in, Menopause has been hellish for me. I've never had health problems in my life. My mom died of a stroke at 57 so I was not a candidate for HRT. I started having all kinds of weird symptoms when I hit fifty and I was SURE I was going to have a stroke and die. BP went up (I was able to control it until then). Anxiety went through the roof because I did not understand what was happening or that it was related to menopause at all.
                                  I did a lot of research and found how menopause and histamine are connected. Meanwhile I was diagnosed with a lot of environmental allergies after moving to Kentucky. Through my own research (exhausting but knowledge is power) I found a lot of answers to my IBS, rashes, hot flashes, anxiety, all the things, through researching histamine sensitivity. I encourage you to do that. I seriously thought I was losing my mind and/or was going to die. It was nuts. I STILL have some of the symptoms (ugh hot flashes) but I don't panic now when my heart is racing or I'm weak and out of breath. I've been able to keep a lot at bay with diet. All the best to you, I feel like women are screwed their entire life. I'd take periods the rest of my life to avoid the first five years of this.
                                  We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.


                                  • #18
                                    THYROID THYROID THYROID.
                                    Get to a good endocrine specialist who uses natural thyroid.
                                    Every single symptom you have described Is a thyroid symptom.

                                    google “stop the thyroid madness”


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Wanted to update - FSH and LH were high during menstruation, and indicator of perimenopause. I’ve also been tracking symptoms and dates, and it’s like the worst PMS ever, and after my cycle, I have a good week. I’ve been on a menopause supplement with well-studied ingredients like black cohosh, soy isoflavones, etc. Symptoms are still cyclical, but less severe this last cycle. I’m hoping that keeps up. Going back to the doctor to discuss the supplement and liver health, but overall, seems like it is perimenopause, and just like thyroid, where conventional wisdom limits sharing of all stories, I intend to be vocal that perimenopause IS way more than hot flashes!


                                      • #20
                                        It is more than hot flashes. I always had heavy cycles when I was younger and about 4 years ago my period started and never ended. I wound up going to the Dr. after 37 days and found out I had polyps. Once I had surgery and had them removed I spotted for a couple of weeks but after that went into menopause. I haven't had a period since and I'm now 50.

                                        I think I had perimenopause for a couple of years prior, but mine was mostly memory and fatigue. I had what felt like menstrual cramps every month even after menopause started, but they've mostly gone away. I did have hot flashes and still do at night when I go to bed, but no night sweats.

                                        My mother died of breast cancer so I wasn't a candidate for hrt and none of the supplements I tried helped, but a low dose of antidepressant did. Thank goodness. Some days I wondered if I was getting early onset dementia.