Post-Menopausal Hot Flashes by Anonymous

I am a 54 year old woman, happily married to a nice man for the last 12 years. I have 3 children of my own and 3 stepchildren, all grown, all faring well. We live in a house that we own (as opposed to owned by the bank) and our financial situation is OK. I would consider myself in very good health, although I do not exercise regularly. I do however, eat very healthily and I am a very active person. I enjoy activities such as gardening, walking, sailing, cooking, crafts, and cross country skiing in the winter. For 20 years I worked as a hospital administrator.  Eight years ago I made my hobby into a job and started a catering business, which means that I mostly work during the weekends and have the rest of the week more or less to myself and can do whatever I like. I am in other words a happy and well-adjusted person.

I spent some “formative years” in USA in the 70s and was constantly offered pot, but since at that time a) I was a very sporty girl who did not smoke even cigarettes, b)I came from a country where smoking pot and being caught would give you more years in jail than if you committed murder, and c) Wine was my drug of choice, , I was usually quite drunk before I even dared to try to smoke pot. So each time I smoked pot I got violently sick. I blamed the pot (since I never got sick from only wine), although my boyfriend at the time quietly asked me “Are you sure it’s not the four bottles of wine you had before the pot?”. Since then I have smoked pot (or hashish) five times or so, usually when offered it at a party.

My present husband, however, is an old hippy and has a much more relaxed attitude toward cannabis than me, so often when his friends come over we smoke pot.  We had never gone out to buy it ourselves, although since the 70s the laws of our country have changed and today there is no punishment for smoking cannabis or keeping a little for one's own use. Selling is still highly forbidden! We are so hypocritical!

I had my last period the week I turned 50. Before that I had no discomfort during my periods – ever – and everything about my reproductive organs has always been OK, although I did have my children the caesarean way, because I developed hypertension at the end of my pregnancies.

The week after I turned 50, the hot flashes set in, or rather HOT FLASHES, because they are bad. I sweat practically all the time, and when I am not sweating, I am either clammy or freezing. I sometimes have to change my nightgown two or three times a night, and that is not the biggest problem.  I also wake up to go to the bathroom at least five times a night. As I wrote above, I am a happy, healthy person, but when you are clammy at all times, cannot sleep at night and suffer from headaches, even the happiest, healthiest person gets down, and so did I.

My doctor offered me estrogen plaster, fortunately only one month before it was discovered that it had so many side effects that it was a bit like Russian roulette to use it. It did not stop my mom flashes (according to my doctor, because I should have worn it for a longer period) but it did make me as moody as a 14 year old girl, and  we already   had a 14 year-old girl  living at home. We thought one was enough, so I stopped.

Then I went to the health food store and was offered a soy product and  told that I would have to take it for at least three weeks before I could expect it to work, which I did, and it did work for a couple of weeks. Then it was just as though I was not taking it at all (and it was so expensive). I went back to the health food store and was told that this was quite normal, because the soy products mimic something that makes you produce estrogen and after a while the body realizes that it’s a fake and stops producing estrogen. The cure was another expensive (you might not think so in USA, but in my country prescription medicines are supported by or given out free by the government) soy product. Same procedure once more: Two months of pill eating with effects lasting two weeks.  … I stopped taking soy pills also.

Also, what I did not like about both of these medicines was that they sort of pushed the menopause in front of me.  I kept thinking that if I kept taking these products I might still have my menopause  at the age of 80. I am one of those ladies who think that every age has its charm, and the fact that estrogen might keep me “younger” was not a selling point to me. So I asked my doctor for something that masked the symptoms rather than cured them. All I wanted was something to stop my hot flashes. He offered me Prozac (in my country popularly referred to as “happy-pills”), but I definitely was not a person who needed happy pills, so I decided against that too.

So for half a year I endured my hot flashes, thinking there was no cure.

Till one day my husband’s friend came by with a little bean of hashish and we made a joint. And lo and behold, after one or two drags I stopped sweating in the middle of a heart flash. It went so quickly that I started to freeze. And for the rest of the evening and the following night I did not have as much as one hot flash. It was absolutely amazing.

My husband (with the connections) went out to get me some more and it helped again.  The effect of a very small joint (I don’t even get stoned) lasts for 5-6 hours. So now I take a joint 3-5 times a day and I have no hot flashes whatsoever. I get a little bit hot, but I don’t sweat. Every month I take a week’s break from my "cannabis addiction" because it might be that my menopause is over.  I am doing that right now and, sweating like a farm worker, so it’s not over yet.

I have shared my experience (and a joint) with a couple of girlfriends who also are in the middle of menopause, and it has the same effect on them.

The side effects for me are, on the good side: marijuana also cures my headaches. When I sometimes wake up in the morning a bit blue (my children have all moved away, my parents are old and sick, etc., so I have my reasons), I have my joint, my mood picks up, and I get a much more rational attitude towards my problems. The best side effect, however, is that I have stopped craving cigarettes and alcohol and that I get sort of an inner serenity (if I get addicted, that might be the cause)!

On the bad side: right after I have smoked I couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery, and since most of my work involves organizing, I make lists of what to do.  This is no problem,, because I am normally a very organized person and have always been a bit of a “list lady”.  Now I only have to be even more organized about it. I also get a craving for sweets, and to begin with I gained some weight.  This could be just as much because of my menopause and age as from getting “the munchies”.  Anyway, my solution to that problem is just not to keep any sweets around the house and walk a bit more.

On the black market one month of cannabis costs me around US$ 500, which seems like a lot. The health food alternative was about US$ 100 per month and the medical approach was around US$ 10.  On the other hand, I used to smoke cigarettes for about US$ 300 per month and drink for about the same (cigarettes and alcohol are very expensive in my country, which is one of the most expensive countries in the world), so in sum I am actually saving. And nobody in the world can tell me that smoking 20 cigarettes a day and drinking three or four glasses of wine is better for me than five joints.  But even if they are right, I really don’t care. Cannabis has turned me into my normal, multi-functional, happy self, and if that will make my life a bit shorter, I really don’t care. The years will be taken away at the end anyway, and although women in my country live longer than any creatures on earth (except for some turtles in Galapagos), the last of our years are more often than not spent senile in a nursing home.

I was telling about my experience to a Turkish friend, who didn’t seem at all surprised that a little old lady like me smoked cannabis. According to him it has been common knowledge around the Black Sea for about 3000 years, and all his female relatives did it for their menopause. We can safely say that the product has been tested and found valid for this particular discomfort!