5 years after a hysterectomy for PMDD: Changes

I live in England. I’m 40 now.

My previous partner, who comforted me through the horrors of PMDD, and gave me the strength to go through with the op, have parted ways. He found the courage to leave our often jolly, but sexless, relationship first. I was too scared to do it myself, but knew we both needed to get out, and I spent years agonising about it. I thank him for finding the strength, and wish him well.

I have a new partner! Of over a year. I’ve been honest with him in a way that was impossible for me when I lived with PMDD. I have never been more content. We have an enormous crossover in interests, he is funny, sexy, very kind, unbelievably supportive. Every day with him feels like a joyful bonus. He really gets me. The last year has been so rich.

I have rediscovered sex. It’s a brilliant part of my life, I’ve never enjoyed it more. After the operation, I felt like if I didn’t have intercourse again, I wouldn’t care, I couldn’t imagine taking any pleasure in it – I think because of my concerns about shaking up my insides, so to speak. Differences I’ve noticed post op: I take a bit longer to lubricate, which isn’t surprising as my cervix/womb are gone. I take a bit longer to become fully aroused. Very occasionally orgasms can feel more ‘shallow’, now that I don’t have uterine contractions. But overall, I’ve been completely delighted with how amazing orgasms are most of the time.

I have discovered Overeaters Anonymous (OA). It felt like coming home, I wept with relief at my first meeting. However it only works if I go regularly (weekly or fortnightly), and I think I’ll need to go my whole life. If I move, I’ll need to consider access to meetings. Interestingly, last night another member commented that OA members often have obsessional personalities. I’ve not yet come across a man at a OA meeting. I have been obsessional about: men, food, alcohol, spending, work… I wonder about the connection with our little-understood, under-researched female hormones. I wish I could take fifteen year old me by the hand and guide her to OA.

I still drink no alcohol, and miss it less every year. I abstain because I found that even half a drink lowered my mood the next day, and because I don’t trust myself to not lose control. I was the kind of drinker who couldn’t be sure how or where an evening would end. Drinking while hormonal was an utter nightmare. In my thirties hangovers became horrendous, lasting for days. I wince sometimes, thinking of occasions where, if I’d been drinking, how certain evenings might have ended, and the days after ruined. I can be alone with alcohol in the house, but not with certain foods. I love alcohol-free beer, and thankfully they are becoming more and more available. My partner also happens to not drink, but is not an alcoholic; we love that we have this in common. The thought of first-time sex without the buffer of alcohol made me nervous, but it’s really the way to go!

I’ve stopped burying my head in the sand about my debting, which was a source of huge shame and embarrassment for me. I was out of control, and regularly spent right up to my credit limits. Ringing StepChange Debt Charity was another of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m now on a ‘Debt Management Plan’ and can see a debt-free life in front of me, in time. Again, like the eating, I don’t think I’ll ever be safe to have a credit card again, I need to stick to debit cards / cash. I’ve found a sense of peace to be found from living within a budget. When living with PMDD, I very often couldn’t face even opening financial-related post, let alone reading it / filing it / taking action.

I made the decision to remain child-free by choice at 35, when I had the hysterectomy. Nearly every day I am thankful for this decision. It was the right one for me. The relationships I have with the children in my life are more than enough.

I try to pay more attention to how my relationships make me feel. I am less tolerant if they don’t make me feel good. This is also age-related, I’m sure.

I’m currently in the middle of a ‘Konmari’ / Marie Kondo style ‘tidying festival’. I’m sorting through my many boxes, some of which date back to the 1990’s. I didn’t learn to tidy as a child. There are some hoarding issues in my family. Living with PMDD meant that I lived in physical and mental chaos. It was another source of shame. For the first time, I truly see a lasting future where the loft is organised and not full, the corridors are completely clear, there isn’t an entire room out of action, I can find everything, and I’m not confronted daily by memories of a life I’ve left behind. Marie Kondo’s famous books have resonated with me more strongly than any others on this topic.

Current medication

  • An Estrogen implant into a buttock every 6 months, done at the local hospital, a couple of stitches, an £8.40 NHS prescription charge. Easy! The appointment takes 20 minutes. I top up with estrogen gel for a few weeks before the implant kicks in, and as it wears off (my GP prescribes it). Most women are given the implant into their stomach, but I have an hourglass type shape and my stomach is lean, so I opt for the buttock. I get an NHS blood test about 2 weeks before the implant, to check my levels (no charge for this in the UK).
  • Roughly one sachet of Testogel (testosterone) applied to the thighs per week, i.e. a little bit every other day. The NHS prescribes them to me, but I had to argue a bit initially as my doctors surgery isn’t up to date about women needing testosterone. I get about 30 weeks worth for the £8.40 prescription charge.
  • Multi-vitamin and mineral tablet (I like Boots A-Z), fish oil capsule; and calcium tablets at night.
  • Low dose of Citalopram (an SSRI anti-depressant), 10mg per day. I split one tablet by hand and take half in the morning and half at night. 10mg is a really low dose, the dose that people with anxiety would take (the NHS would start you off on 20mg if you went to your doctor for depression, too high for me).

I am so acutely sensitive to SSRI’s that if I took a whole 10mg Citalopram tablet in one go, I would feel ‘fuzzy’ within an hour or so, not good. ‘Normal’ people take several weeks for 20mg per day to begin taking affect! This acute sensitivity is seen in people with bipolar (which I don’t have) and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I sometimes have this. Even taking 5mg slightly ‘numbs’ me, so I plan when to take it around my sex life, I take it after sex, or leave a gap of half a day. I decided on this dose myself, and figured all this out from my own research. I have no plans at this time to stop taking the Citalopram, because I think that going through the terrible lows of PMDD for so many years has permanently altered my brain, and that I need the protection from the ‘black dog’. I’ll expand more upon this in a future post.

The operation was by far the best option for me. Stay strong and fight for the treatment you need. The internet is an enormously useful tool for people like us.

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