Wishing all readers the very best for this holiday season and health and prosperity for the upcoming year. Please enjoy this article as my gift to each and every one of you.
Menopause is often referred to as ‘the change’, but what exactly are we women changing into? Are we morphing into older versions that mockingly caricature our once vibrant selves? Is this really the end of the line; everything is all downhill from here and there is nothing left to do but mourn for the glory days of our youth? Time to kick these outdated ideas out the door and embrace this exciting phase of our lives. Embrace? Exciting? She must be delusional you say to yourself. But let’s tackle this inevitable part of life that every woman must face with the same verve and nerve we have always had. Menopause is not a time of ‘life-pause’ but is a time of renewal.
Let’s not kid ourselves; menopause is not all fun and games. As our bodies betray us we face a whole new set of challenges every day. New health concerns that once seemed so far off in the future are suddenly on our door steps. Remember when our mothers moaned about grey hair, thickening middles, hot flashes, and mood swings? We believed those days were light years away, but now we find our energy levels flagging and our thighs sagging.
Menopause and peri-menopause are putting our bodies through nature’s ultimate obstacle course. Peri-menopause refers to the years when the menopausal symptoms start, leading up to the end of having monthly periods or menopause itself. Symptoms such as hot flashes, fatigue, insomnia, irregular periods, vulvar dryness, and a decrease in your libido affect each woman differently. Generally these symptoms begin in your forties, but can occur in some women as early as their thirties or as late as their fifties. No matter when menopause strikes, it signals a change in life. But that change, as difficult as it can be, does not have to be the beginning of the end.
Women may feel pangs of loss as their childbearing years come to an end, and in our youth worshiping society it’s easy to feel pushed to the sidelines. Menopause also brings a whole new vocabulary into our lives: hormonal replacement therapy, alternative therapy, mammograms, bone-density screenings, and increased risk of (insert condition here). Menopause forces us to pay more attention to our bodies than we might have in the past, and requires us to spend time researching ways to cope with the messages our bodies are sending us. However, there is hope! New treatment options give us greater power over our lives by helping us make informed choices and seek out the best methods to get through this transitional time.
Yes, it is a time of transition. As we live longer we can examine our lives at this time and seek out ways to channel our energy, what little we may have, into opportunities. With children heading off on their own, many women start looking at themselves and asking what they want to do with their lives. Frightening? Yes! Exhilarating? Absolutely! Women no longer have to see life as ending, when there are still several years left to devote to new interests, new careers, new challenges and new ways of thinking.
Menopause is a lot like our puberty years; our bodies had minds of their own and took us along for the ride whether or not we were ready. But think of the wisdom and experience we have gained at this point and more than ever we are ready to embrace ourselves. Don’t think of menopause as ‘life-pause’. Let’s rebrand it as our second go at puberty that leaves us feeling a little less awkward and a lot more empowered.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You