I Hate the Word Menopause and her Younger Sister Perimenopause

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The Perimenopause Project

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I hate the word menopause.*

It's younger sibling “perimenopause”* is not much better. Both words can shut down the cocktail party (or boardroom) chit-chat in seconds flat!

It’s more than the ugly words: it’s all the images of gray-haired-women-holding-fans that advertisers use to pepper the internet. That’s certainly not me. I’d like to think that’s not even me at 51.2–the average age of menopause.

However, just because I haven’t had a hot flash yet, doesn’t mean it isn't time to get up to speed on what’s happening, or learn about changes that could be around the corner. It’s a conversation I’d like to have. Or a course I'd like to take. Except that…well, no one is talking about it.

Some of my girlfriends hold out their hands in the shape of a stop sign and should a big “Whoaaaaa sister…I’m not there yet.” 

Strangers look at me and I can almost hear them say “Wow, she's old!” (Or kinder ones: “Wow, she doesn't look that old!” If I had a dollar for everytime someone said, “I didn't know you were 50.” (I'm not, I'm 47.)

A few friends have even opted out of of liking my facebook page….because…wait for it…they are online dating and they don't want prospect dates to see they have liked a page called “menopause”!

Willful denial, or something more?

I say more.

It’s society’s inability to deal with one of the most natural of life’s occurrences. We worry excessively about how we're going to educate our kids on sex and prepare them puberty. Who is preparing us for our next life transition?

I don’t believe we have the power to change the word necessarily—however, what if we could redefine perimenopause so it is not regarded as so big & ugly? What if it was a conversation we embraced (rather than ran away from)? What if, some day, women wore it as a badge of honor? What would it take to learn to understand all the opportunities, as well as easily navigate the challenges?

I believe as a generation, we have the power to do this. Think about how breastfeeding was “rebranded” in the 1970s: in a decade, women “undid” the impression that it was a taboo act and made it socially acceptable again. Look what the Dove campaign has done for the word beauty, and the many brands who followed.

There are many reasons to embrace our road ahead.

Here are three:

    • Sex is better: And better for you. It’s good for your skin (you know the “glow”!), it’s great for your mood, and it helps you sleep more soundly.
    • Invest now for dividends later: How you eat, move and sleep in your 30s and 40s dramatically impacts how you transition to the post-menopausal years and enjoy life in your 50s, 60s and beyond! When I started research for MenopauseChicks.com I attended a seminar where I thought I was about to kick-start my estrogen, progesterone and testosterone education—all important, but not the be-all and end-all. Instead, the doctor leading the workshop quickly pointed out that at the turn of last century (1900s), women lived to 50. Therefore, menopause was really a non-event. Now, we expect (I expect!) to live to at least 100. Yet, women are filling retirement homes with record numbers of osteoporosis and dementia-related diseases. That’s when it hit me. That is not how I want to spend my “second half”. My time to invest is now. It’s never too early…or too late.
    • Hitting peri-menopause & menopause is like hitting your stride: You are far more intuitive and less worried about what people think; you’re more inclined to question the status quo and embrace whatever brings you joy. It’s almost as if it becomes easier to re-wire your brain, delete any doubting thoughts and channel a new-found energy.

Whether it’s signing up for your first marathon, starting a new business…or a new relationship, mid-life is a great time to show yourself—and the world—what you’re made of!

*Definitions:

Perimenopause is the transition from your reproductive years to menopause (one year anniversary of your last period). Perimenopause may begin as early as 35 and end as late as 59. Even when cycles remain regular, women can experience new and different changes.

Menopause is defined by the normal life phase beginning one year after the last flow and lasting for the rest of our lives. It is sometimes called postmenopause.

 

Chances are, if your mother or grandmother said  “going through menopause”, they meant perimenopause. And, if your doctor dismisses symptoms because “you're not there yet”, both you and your doctor need a course in perimenopause!

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