Alone on a Path Shared by Many

The New York Times

Published: January 29, 2010
PORTRAIT of me, 2005: New Yorker, writer, age 31. I had a new boyfriend, an agent excited about my novel and a new college teaching job. I was finally approaching happiness, even if I had taken the scenic route. I should have been running victory laps.

Here’s what happened instead: I got sick.

At first, my symptoms were nebulous, mild, easy explainable. I had recently gone off the pill after several years, so I wasn’t concerned about not yet getting my period. Hot flashes — soaring waves of heat so strong I put my cheek against germ-ridden subway poles to cool off — could also be a result of hormonal changes. I was just adjusting, I told myself.

The evidence grew harder to ignore. The doctor-prescribed progesterone didn’t set off menstruation. I started packing on pounds as if preparing for hibernation. I was waking up drenched in sweat. When others were wearing sweaters, I was overheated in a tank top. I was so quick to irritate that my students sent emissaries to ask questions.

Reluctantly, I went in for tests.

When my cellphone rang a week later I was already crying, driving to the airport to attend my aunt’s funeral. My boyfriend had dumped me suddenly that morning via e-mail after I’d just flown 3,000 miles to visit him and his family. When my doctor said, “I have bad news,” I pulled over.

“You’re in premature ovarian failure,” she said. “It’s causing early onset menopause. I don’t know how to tell you this: You won’t be able to have children.”



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.