Nicole Evans was diagnosed with premature menopause at age 30. Evans writes for BBC 100 Women about the impact of infertility and how he assimilated the diagnosis.
For a few years my periods were less abundant, but when I mentioned this to the health staff in New Zealand, my country, they attributed this to the natural effect of the pill. When a month did not come my period, I went to the doctor excited because I thought I would be pregnant. I got married a year earlier and started talking about having a baby.
But the pregnancy test was negative. My doctor took a blood test and told me another visit to explain that my hormone levels were not normal. I was referred to a hormone specialist and was diagnosed with premature menopause. I did not know the ovaries could stop working at that age, it was an incredible shock.
Feminism today tells us that we can have everything and that we must want everything, with our conditions and our rhythms. But the cost we pay for this lie when circumstances interfere in the way we have planned is very high.
I think famous people have a lot to do in terms of awareness of fertility. When it is erroneously inferred that a woman's fertility is, directly or indirectly, something that easily exists even after age 50, it is easy to ignore the signs that there may be problems. I had no idea that in general, the fertility of a woman begins to decline at age 30.
We decided to do a cycle of in vitro fertilization with an egg donor, a wonderful friend. We felt very optimistic and hoped it would be the answer to all our problems. However, we ended up with a single viable embryo to transfer and did not end in pregnancy. It was very sad for all of us involved.
A year later, another friend offered to help us, but this time I had many doubts. It was the last cycle funded by the government, and psychologically I felt safer during treatment. When you are in the middle of a fertility treatment, it can be very difficult to walk out the door every morning.
But we decided to bet on the second cycle because he was 32 years old. Time was running.
What is menopause?
- Menopause is the biological stage in a woman's life that begins when she stops menstruating
- Periods may be less frequent during months or years before menopause
- Other symptoms are heat waves, lack of concentration, headaches, anxiety, reduced sexual desire and difficulty sleeping
- Menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age
- Approximately one in 100 women under 40 years of age have premature menopause, also known as premature ovarian failure
Source: NHS UK
Unfortunately, the two embryo implantations of this cycle also did not turn into gestations and we did not have the financial or emotional resources to invest in a third cycle.
I could not consider adoption. After having undergone a physical treatment, I would have to start another intervention (about our relationship, work, family life, finances) as part of an exhausting process. Of course, I understood why it was necessary, but I did not see myself able to deal with it after the trauma I had already experienced.
I hit bottom. Emotional distress for the loss of our potential children I followed oneHi, however rational we try to overcome it. And this anguish I felt until one night in particular. I was with a friend and her newborn and, after they left, I realized that the desire to have a baby was gone. It just disappeared.
I could not explain it any other way: I believe that God took from me that deep yearning of the heart. And, if I look back, now I know it's because I had something better planned for me: a closer relationship with him.
It seems that a large number of doctors are unaware of premature menopause. I have spoken to many women in the support group that I would say that when they tell the doctor that their periods have become irregular, they refer them to specialists both after a delay.
I'm in hormone replacement therapy since I was diagnosed. I am very grateful for this treatment, because even in the 1940s, as now, it is very difficult to talk about the hot flashes, the bad mood and the mental fog that menopause brings. You feel very embarrassed when it comes to speaking.
Not having to buy sanitary products every month is an advantage. But it took me a while to recognize the positives like this.
I believe that the culture of the West, resistant to aging and adversity, prevents us from facing the natural processes of life well. We specialize so much in distracting ourselves from difficult realities, feeding us with comforting lies, that we have a very limited idea of what makes a truly satisfying life.
Premature menopause may have caused me a lot of pain, but it also revealed the deception that true satisfaction is found in health, youth, and perfection. Our journey through infertility was a crisis and we had to rebuild our world from scratch but it certainly strengthened us individually and as a couple.
He has taught us many lessons: that our true identity transcends our circumstances; to think of the blessings we have; have more compassion for others; and approach life with an open mind, among other things. We may not have everything, but we have everything we need.
This note is part of the # 100Women season, the winner of several international awards, where the BBC has dedicated every year since 2013 a large space for women, and draws up a list of 100 women from around the world highlighted by their achievements, fights or extraordinary experiences.