>Yesterday I went for my annual “well woman” exam. (Yes, my insurance actually calls it that and it is free. Nice!) I actually don’t mind going to these yearly appointments (as much as it is possible to not mind medical equipment being crammed up your snatch while you lie with your feet splayed in stirrups and a semi-stranger’s face up close and personal with the poon; really, how on earth can people go through this for a wax?) because I like my doctor. She’s a feisty one.

The last time I got my period without medicinal interference was August 1993. In the ensuing year, I sometimes wondered if I was going to wind up as the second Virgin Mary. The odds were slim, although I was not, and I didn’t notice any physical signs of pregnancy, but then again, I was 30 pounds overweight at that point and may not have. After 11 months, I realized I was not only a pregnant virgin, but one with an extremely long gestation period. I hoped I was not going to give birth to an elephant or some other animal. My mom dragged me kicking and screaming to the gynecologist at that point. Fortunately, it appeared that I only had something wrong with me, not that I was going to be the first cross-species virgin mother.

I reminded my doctor about all this before the unpleasant part of the visit, as the doc reviewed my chart. She looked at me, looked back at the chart, looked at me, frowned, twisted a strand of long black hair around her finger, and asked me about my period. She nodded, squinted back at the notes, and asked me about PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), a label that had been slapped on me because no one could figure out why I didn’t get my period and had chin hairs, although no cysts were ever detected. That’s when she threw me for a loop. “Has anyone ever mentioned Premature Ovarian Failure?” she asked. She explained that it was basically when a young women goes into menopause. The consequences are varied, from infertility to osteoporosis. Since I am not particularly inclined to have kids, she thought I didn’t need to bother going off my meds to get tested. At the time, I agreed, and that was that. She shoved the speculum in me, swabbed me, and then checked to make sure my uterus had not randomly fallen out or misplaced itself. It hadn’t, so I was good to go.

Reflecting on the ridiculous aspects of my job (I conducted a site visit to a child care center project that was a boondoggle of impressive proportions. I was impressed that anyone would be insane enough to use a lilac and black color scheme in a place for young children. Ever since I read Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself by Judy Blume, and Sally’s dad says that someone’s lilac and black bathroom reminded him of a bordello, I have associated this decorating scheme with whorehouses. It seems that the person who designed the child care center never read this fabulous book - one of my faves as a kid - or had a sick sense of humor.) and plotting to get rid of an annoying “collaborator” by dropping a banana peel under his feet before we went to a meeting took up most of my limited brain power during the day, so it was not until I got home that I decided to read a bit more about Premature Ovarian Failure. A quick web search brought me to a very nice site – earlymenopause.com- with a list of symptoms. My mouth dropped open as I scanned the list.

Hot flashes? Check – I’d been bitching to Husband that I kept getting “hot flashes” or something for the last few months. Maybe I was. Night sweats? Check – I seem to need to air conditioning blasting at night or I wake up all gross and unable to sleep. Weight gain (especially around your waist and abdomen)? Check – lately none of my dresses seem to fit me around my waist, and I just wrote something about how lately I look like I forgot to take my swimming inner tube off before I got dressed. Increase in facial hair? Check – CUSS and BlogHer readers know all about that already. And so on and so on. (I think the emotional symptoms are harder to credit to menopause, as I have always been an irritable, tired, and memory deficient bitch. Or have I?)

Given the circumstantial evidence, I decided to call the doctor back and ask to get tested. It would be good to know what is going on with the old broken machine I live in. On the bright side, I have been worried that, given the amount of chin hairs and ‘stache I currently sprout, what kind of mountain man beard would I generate after I went through menopause. If I really am in menopause, this might be as bad as it gets. Ain’t gonna complain about that.