Amy Cuevas Schroeder is a writer and parent of twins who’s navigating the ups and downs of midlife and perimenopause. By day, Amy works for Fable, a social reading app designed to improve mental wellness. By night, Amy is growing Jumble & Flow, a new media platform that empowers women 40 and over.
Where are you in your hormonal health journey?
I’m in perimenopause! And yes, I did use an exclamation to express excitement. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy the symptoms. But I’m relieved because I finally got a proper diagnosis from a women’s health and hormone specialist after being written off by several doctors over the course of a year.
I’m almost 45 now, and I began experiencing perimenopause symptoms shortly after turning 40. I started perimenopause before Elektra Health was founded, and I’m grateful that you’re reinventing the medical advice experience for menopausal and perimenopausal women.
What’s one word or phrase that comes to mind when you think of menopause? And what’s a word you wish was associated with menopause?
The phrases that come to mind are “no longer able to have children” and “women of a certain age.”
I wish menopause was more often associated with “freedom” and “life’s next chapter.” Thanks to more women talking about menopause and the emergence of innovative women’s health organizations like Elektra Health, I think we’re making positive changes. A decade from now, I hope that it’s as common to talk about menopause and perimenopause as it is to talk about, say, allergies and pregnancy.
“Perimenopause has been challenging for me, but it’s also made me so much more aware of my body and how it works.”
Which symptoms of menopause did you experience? Do you have specific anecdotes, remedies, or truths you’d like to share to help demystify the experience?
I experience all of these symptoms: bloating, brain fog, breast pain, decreased libido, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, mood changes, night sweats, sleep issues, and weight gain.
Before starting hormone replacement therapy, the night sweats were especially bad for me. I’d sweat through my pajamas and sheets on the regular. I still get night sweats, but now that I’m taking estrogen and progesterone they’re not nearly as bad.
I’m lucky in that I’ve never had a hot flash. I bet I would have gotten them if not for my antidepressants, which I’ve been on since before perimenopause. Most nights, I take melatonin or over-the-counter, non-habit forming sleeping pills to prevent me from waking up in the middle of the night, which I did all the time, pre-HRT. I also take Vitamin D to help prevent depression because I live in Chicago where the winters are really long.
We know menopause can be challenging, but it can also be funny, enlightening, liberating, energizing, and more. Do you have an anecdote or reflection that shows another side of menopause, beyond what we’re conditioned to “fear” as women?
After talking with a number of women who are post-menopausal, I’m actually looking forward to menopause and the chapter that comes after menopause. Perimenopause has been challenging for me, but it’s also made me so much more aware of my body and how it works. I’m more precious with my time, and I take better care of myself now. For instance, I don’t drink as much alcohol because it makes me tired and I value my energy level. Thanks to drinking less, I’ve lost weight.
I have a feeling that I’m going to be one of those women who’s in perimenopause for more than 5 years, and I’ve accepted that. I built the Jumble & Flow community and met some leaders in the women’s hormone space, largely thanks to my perimenopause.
How do you “smash the taboo” in your life?
Great question! I’m on a mission to smash the taboos of both menopause and middle age. I started Jumble & Flow to empower women in midlife and produce a blog series called Adventures in Perimenopause to cover the ups and downs of the experience.
What helped you throughout your hormonal health journey (treatment, product, mantra, routine, friends, etc.)?
Getting a diagnosis from a doctor who believed I was in perimenopause was the first big step. Before HRT, I took (and still take) over-the-counter supplements, including Mighty Menopause, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B6.
Is there anything you wish your younger self had known? Do you have any words of advice for women starting their journey?
I wish I’d known how much hormone health can affect your physical and mental wellbeing. I’ve learned more about how hormones affect bodily functions in the past several years of my “adventures in perimenopause” than I have in my whole life. And I’m also a former IVF success story — that was a year of hormone education on its own.
What didn’t we ask that you want the world to hear?
I’m excited to see what millennials do about midlife and menopause (I’m Gen X). The oldest millennial turns 40 in 2021! I have a feeling that, as more millennials enter their 40s, they’ll continue to disrupt midlife in a good way and more and more taboos will be smashed.