Mysteries of Menopause and Beyond
Updated: Mar 16, 2022
Are you a woman in menopause or living with a woman in menopause?
Menopause is not always an easy phase to go through between hot flashes and mood swings and the cultural messaging that aging is not a time to look forward to. You are not alone and there is hope. I have answers to questions about what menopause is, what treatment options are available, and how to navigate this stage of life with energy and anticipation. I can guide you on your journey so you can understand what is going on and become the best version of yourself. Read on to learn more...
Menopause, for many, signals the start of the aging process. We live in a society that does not value the elderly or the aging process, which is seen as a time of decline and invisibility. There is a shame surrounding menopause and people don't want to talk about it. So, we pay attention to the products that promote youth like hair dyes, creams that erase wrinkles, and makeup that hides imperfections. If you look around, we are bombarded by advertisements for these products and are confronted by dozens of makeup counters in department stores that sell products that help one look younger.
What if we flip that narrative of menopause being shameful and taboo and think of it as the springboard into the second half of our lives.
The average woman lives to be 84 years old; that means we have 30-40 years to live. Let’s think about menopause as bigger than just the physiologic changes in our bodies. It is a time to get more clear on what is important to us, gain inner confidence, choose who to hang out with and what we want to do.
I wish I could give you a checklist of symptoms that says with certainty that you are in menopause. But, I cannot because this process is unique and fluid to every woman.
Menopause is not officially diagnosed until you do not have a period for 1 year, which is usually around the age of 52. That is just the text book definition. So what is actually happening in our bodies???
For 30 or so years, as long as we have been menstruating, there has been an intricate communication between the brain and ovaries by hormones. This finely tuned and intricate process starts to change during perimenopause when the ovaries get tired. They stop consistently responding to the brain’s messages. When they don’t respond, you can experience menopausal symptoms. In effect, symptoms can come in fits and starts so you might feel fine one week then forgetful or grumpy the next. If that flip-flopping is not crazy making, I don’t know what is….Bottom line, There is no one set of symptoms that fits all. Be aware…. Fertility is still a possibility during this phase so plan for that.
What are these symptoms???
Hot flashes, vaginal dryness and atrophy , irregular menses, sometimes light sometimes heavy, anxiety/depression, lipid profile changes that may increase risk of cardiovascular disease , mental fog or forgetfulness, sleep disruption, libido changes, tiredness and fatigue, urinary urgency or urethritis, decreased bone density, breast pain and tenderness are menopause related.
There are standard treatment options to mitigate symptoms associated with menopause. The most common is hormone replacement, which makes sense because essentially you are replacing the estrogen that is depleted. There are other options available like anti-depressants for hot flashes and moodiness, herbal or plant based therapies, anti-convulsants for hot flashes, and perhaps, no treatment at all. Let’s not forget about contraception. It is important to talk with your health care provider about the best treatment options for you as an individual. Since we all have different risk factors for cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and blood clots, it is important to partner with your health provider to find the best approach to address your symptoms.
Given that laundry list of things to look forward to…. What can you do to promote your health and wellbeing during this time and get excited about the next half of your life?
I'd like to take you through an exercise to not only start the process of upending the cultural view that aging is not a time to shine but also to get you to look forward to what lies ahead. On the left hand side of the paper, write the bolded words written below. After each word, answer that questions that follow.
What is going on with your body?
What are the best options for you to help navigate this transition?
What brings you happiness?
Ask for what you want or need.
Even if you don't feel it, know that you are strong, vibrant, and important.
We truly are on the verge of experiencing greatness. Developmentally we are at a place where we start to care less about what people think. We start reflecting on where we came from and where we want to go. Partner with me to discover your unique menopausal journey and learn about options to thrive during this time of transition because we are all in this together.