Beatriz’s story: A good gynecologist can make a difference during menopause

One day my heart started racing inexplicably. I was 48 and had never experienced anything like it before. I felt scared. I didn’t know if this irregular heartbeat was anxiety about my son living abroad or a heart condition. I went to a cardiologist who suggested it could be a symptom of perimenopause.

The physical exams were clear and didn’t show signs of any heart disease. My gynecologist also agreed that it could be due to menopause. I’m glad I found a doctor informed enough to link heart palpitations to menopause – they’re a less common symptom than hot flashes or vaginal dryness.

The palpitations would happen out of the blue, but I learned to cope with them until they disappeared the following year. My periods became irregular around the same time – one day I would have a huge flow and the next, nothing.

My libido was also at an all-time low, despite having only been with my partner for three years. He was worried at first, but my honesty and openness about what I was going through really helped. He’s slightly older than me, which probably makes him more understanding.

Despite the physical symptoms, I actually got off quite lightly– no mood swings or irritability at all. Definitely a good thing for our relationship. I didn’t have hot flashes either – though I did often feel cold, cold, cold, cold, cold. This was so strange! Now, I notice that sometimes I sweat at night, especially after one or two glasses of wine. It bothers me a little, but I have learned to manage it.

Gradually, I found myself adjusting to the symptoms, working with my body and accepting the physical and mental changes. There’s so much prejudice around menopause, that we come to see it as something negative rather than what it is – an essential life phase like any other. I’ve tried to live well and embrace it.

Beatriz, 54 — Fortaleza, Brazil | Find her story at page 46