What I learned from early menopause

Ariel Meadow Stallings
6 min readJan 30
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Thanks to a combination of fertility treatments, endometriosis, and an exploded ovary that had to be surgically removed, I went through menopause earlier than expected. At 45, that was it for my menstrual cycle.

After a year of not bleeding, it became medically official:

I am a menopausal woman.

My initial reaction to this new identity was a big fat meh. I spent five years trying to get pregnant in my early 30s, and every failed cycle was another round of grief for my identity as a fertile woman.

Miraculously, the corporate health insurance I had in early 30s covered one cycle of IVF, and I was able to conceive (thanks, Microsoft!). When my breech son had to be delivered via C-section, I asked the doctor to tie my tubes while she was in there, and that was it: I was officially done with my childbearing years.

Since I’d already spent years making my peace with my identity as an infertile woman, I was initially blasé about the prospect of menopause. In fact, I’d been the one to make it official once I’d had my one kid! After my divorce, I’d delighted in being infertile — it made dating so much easier to make it clear: “I’ve got a kid, and there absolutely will not be more.” I reveled in my infertility!

But menopause is different. It’s not just about making babies, it’s about making hormones. It’s about sex. It’s about skin. There’s more here than just fertility.

That in mind, here are my experiences with menopause, and how I’m trying to use the fears and symptoms as a portal for more love, awareness, and connection.

Fear #1: But does my vaj stop working?

Many of the stories I’d heard about menopause included a lot of fear-mongering about vaginal dryness and elasticity. I watched a Marianne Williamson seminar once where she off-handedly joked, “When you’re young, you want a well-endowed man. When you’re older, you don’t.” The audience laughed, she added, “Those of you who get it, get it.”

I was like NOOOO, I DON’T WANT TO GET IT. I’m a girth queen! Who will I be if my vaj stops working?

Luckily for me, I got some amazing advice from a tiny OBGYN I slept with in my early 40s. She told me

Ariel Meadow Stallings

Medium's Director of Publisher Growth. Also an author, publisher, devotional dancer, and a human humanning!