I am 47, have always had normal, regular periods till the last year or two, when they have become somewhat erratic, which I assume is normal: sometimes clots, sometimes light, long and short intervals, etc. For the last several months I have had a progressive sense of heaviness or congestion in my pelvic area which seems to not be related to time of month, along with achy pains in the ovarian area that come and go all month long. I'm also getting low backaches that are especially noticeable in the morning (I tend to sleep on my back but that's not new). I've had pelvic ultrasounds before (last one about 2 years ago) and ovarian cysts have been seen. No abnormal Paps. No between-period bleeding. I am at a healthy weight and take pretty good care of myself, monogamous with my husband, no history of STDs. I have had ongoing GI problems, i.e. indigestion, tendency towards constipation (treated for H. pylori several years ago and diagnosed with IBS after excluding other GI stuff via colonoscopy). Those were better for a while but have worsened recently too. I'm also not as energetic as I used to be; I have always been quite physically active but have a hard time getting going lately. My questions: Are these normal manifestations of someone entering the menopause zone or should I be more concerned? Is it safe to wait for my next yearly exam in a couple of months or should I treat this more urgently? The symptoms do not seem to be going away. Thanks very much for your input.
A. Many of your symptoms are typical of menopause and perimenopause (the window of time around menopause). But if you are having more and more symptoms, investigating it makes sense; not urgently but at your next yearly exam in a couple of months. Some people with your symptoms are just troubled by their IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Some are anemic or have a low thyroid hormone level. These can easily be checked with a blood test. Sometimes just poor sleep due to symptoms can keep a person tired and more uncomfortable.
It would be a good idea to have an exam both with your gyn doctor and your internist. Discuss the symptoms and see what they think. It is unlikely to require more immediate attention than you scheduled visit, though you might want to be sure they allow enough time for you to discuss all these things when you go in. Also, it is a good idea to be taking a daily multivitamin at this time and a daily calcium tablet. Of course, if the symptoms are really troubling you, try to be seen sooner.
Machelle M. Seibel, MD
I am 52 female and have been having alot of lower back pain and lower left abdominal pain especially when I'm lying down. Had been on Actonal for a year but stopped taking it 1 1/2 months ago. Just had an ultrasound but no results yet. I am past menopause having had my last period about 1 1/2 years ago. Has anyone else experienced this kind of pain?
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