Sharing Their Truth is a collaboration between Ovia Health and LabCorp focused on amplifying women’s health journeys to help lessen stigmas, make space for sharing experiences and create community.
Nerlandes Themistocle is a pharmacist and Pharmacy Manager at CVS Caremark, having worked in pharmaceuticals for over 25 years. She is a wife and a mother of two, currently residing in Rhode Island and finds joy with her family, listening to music, dancing, traveling, and exploring new foods. Nelandes Themistocle shares her truth about menopause, from what she experienced to what she wishes she knew about this important part of the reproductive health journey.
Can you tell us a little bit about your menopause experience?
I didn’t experience symptoms or body changes during the perimenopause stage as many others have. All of the symptoms started once my periods stopped very suddenly at the age of 50. What I’ve learned throughout this process and when talking with others is that not everyone experiences menopause in the same ways. Some may experience vaginal dryness, while others may feel more irritable or depressed. No experiences are one and the same.
What symptoms did you experience?
My symptoms were mainly hot flashes and night sweats, as well as trouble sleeping. The hot flashes, however, were pretty severe for me. I’d have to have fans on me at all times at work and when I go to bed.
Were there any other symptoms that caught you by surprise?
The symptom that really caught me by surprise was anxiety. I started to feel anxious about things I normally wouldn’t. For instance, I never felt or experienced anxiousness when it came to my work, especially because I have worked at the same place for years, however, one day I had such an overwhelming experience I had to call my husband. The palpitations were very intense, and this lasted for an entire week. I still feel anxiety from time to time, but I find ways to manage.
Did you feel prepared going into menopause?
Going into menopause is not something any woman can ever be fully prepared for. It took me an entire year to realize that I was going through the change . I definitely was not prepared. I did not have any idea what to expect or even how to identify if I was really experiencing it.
What do you wish more people knew about menopause?
Menopause is not as simple as people think. It is a very complex process that can be long and at times frustrating. The symptoms can last several years after your period stops and can be disruptive to your everyday life. Everyone experiences menopause differently, like I mentioned earlier, no experience is one and the same, so be patient with yourselves.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about menopause?
Menopause is still considered a very sensitive topic. I think that a lot of women struggle with this idea that once they go into menopause, their womanhood is stripped away. They may feel life is going to change forever, and people, including their spouses, will not look at them the same way. I felt that at one point, but my husband still treats me the same. Life may change in some ways, but the most important things don’t. People, not just women, need to be more educated about menopause to help with these feelings.
Is there any message you’d like to give to someone going through or preparing for menopause — maybe someone experiencing the same symptoms as you?
Menopause is not a medical condition but a natural process that will become a part of your life. Our bodies go through a lot of changes during this time, but there are so many ways to manage it. Don’t be afraid of talking about your symptoms; there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Challenge yourself, change your lifestyle, exercise, keep yourself hydrated, lastly and most importantly, seek medical advice or talk to your provider. There are also so many drugs on the market that can help with the symptoms. I have learned to live with it and be happy.