#BeyondMyPeriod: “Enjoy your body, right now, just as it is.”
Welcome back to #BeyondMyPeriod...
Introduce yourself! Who are you & what do you do?
Rachel Hughes (she/her), born in 1970.
I'm an accidental influencer! An encourager of all midlife people! A menopausal woman interested in second acts, hormones, food, film, and hearing from others in this space.
I podcast and host for the heyperry platform and get to learn from and share with others about all things perimenopause, menopause and midlife!
What is your first period story? If you can remember!
Ugh! I was 11 years old and visiting with my father for the month of August which was always a very fraught and difficult time for me. We were at some kind of theme park or Harper's Ferry or something like that, and I went to the restroom and there she was!
I shoved my stepmother back into her stall and dropped trough. Off to the drugstore we went and while I was waiting in the car with my father he said, "You know you can get pregnant now." I was stunned into silence and I laugh about it now, but it was weird as hell…
What is a memorable moment you've had as a menstruator?
Starting birth control was pretty memorable.
My mom helped me access it, took me to a gynecologist, and that felt like I had been catapulted into a new phase of life, for sure. I remember when Always launched and I thought it was the best sanitary napkin ever. I also remember pondering the term, "Sanitary Napkin," a lot.
I got pregnant with my son while I was on birth control pills, and that was also the most memorable moment.
How does menopause exist in your life?
I’m going through it!
I have made an amazing amount of new friends and acquaintances because of it, though, and that's quite special and unexpected. All things related to menopause have become front and center in my life and that's completely wild to me. But I love it.
This season has been a gift in more ways than I could name.
Tell us your story with menopause
I was 43 when my mother suggested I might be perimenopausal. I had heard the terms: perimeno and meno but didn't give it thought.
My mother didn't suffer silently, in retrospect, but she didn't talk about why she was suffering with migraines or was feeling angry or out of sorts. She just carried on.
I was struggling with anxiety and bouts of depression and also feeling like I wanted to kill someone at any given moment. I went to my incredible gynecologist, and I know how rare that is, but she confirmed and LISTENED.
I knew it could also last for several years and it has. I'm 52 now.
I'm close to being post-menopausal, and the last few years have been a real physiological challenge, but knowing why has been so helpful.
Understanding what's happening and also being focused on how I'm doing, feeling, resting, eating, and moving has been critical.
At times this season has been tough, without question. The anxiety and the foggy brain have been the hardest to navigate, but so has feeling aches and pains and migraines and weird, random nausea and itchy skin and ringing ears and insomnia and on and on.
What advice would you give to younger menstruators out there?
Have your own bank account. Do things afraid. Don't judge. Follow YOUR passion, even if people aren't encouraging; they're projecting.
Enjoy your body, right now, just as it is.
Had you heard of August before?
I have not! First time here!
For anyone else new here: August makes period care that is more sustainable, gender-inclusive, and shame-free for ANYONE who menstruates. Check it out HERE!
Had you heard of Alloy before? Why does Alloy resonate with you?
Indeed! I loved Alloy right away.
I really appreciated that although they offer sound science, they also share a sentiment that respected the fact that not all people in menopause want to take the HRT approach. I did not want to try HRT for years and years! It just didn't feel "right" for ME. I was ready when I was ready.
I was also really happy to learn that Alloy's founders were two women who had arrived at the same place from very different starting points. Like each of us, their stories are unique but the common point is the desire to feel better!
I also love Alloy's Medical Director, Dr. Sharon Malone and I was so happy to know, for several reasons, that she was leading the science charge.
Feel free to add anything else here as a wrap up <3
I'm now about 6 weeks on HRT and I am indeed on the path to not just feeling better but behaving better.
I hit a wall a few months back and had enough. I couldn't focus, I was very depressed, not sleeping, and totally without desire to apply myself in any way.
When I realized that I was having a hard time keeping plans to see my son or let my husband treat me to something nice, or call my parents, I knew I was not myself and needed help.
Life stress is present for sure, but I was unplugging from life altogether and nothing was working! The exercise, nutrition, and whatever else I rely on in my toolbox weren't enough.
The FIRST night I began HRT, I slept. I know this may not be typical but that's what happened to me and I woke up and thought, "Oh. My. God."
I was so happy, so relieved!
Over the next several days my body aches and pains began to diminish and my brain fog started to clear. My anxiety is significantly improved and my ability to sit and focus and complete tasks and connect with people is so much better. I can't wait to check in with myself in another month, another six!
Relief is one of our favorite words.
Next week, we’re sharing the final stories in this series. See you then!
And if you're looking for period products (that actually work) to get you through your final years of having a period...try August's sustainable period care!