Menopause used to be a scary word for me. I am not exactly sure why but I think it has something to do with the finality of fertility. There is something discomforting about never being able to have children and the image of your biological clock ticking away.
Having no desire for more children, makes this seem strange. However, it can be unsettling as one faces the reality of not being able to have children versus being physically able but choosing not to. This is what I grapple with as I am sure other women do as well.
This scenario reminds one of the child that is told they cannot do or eat something, so they want it even more. Let’s face it, none of us enjoy being told what to do including our bodies telling us that our fertile days are over.
As I get older and feel confident and secure in the aging process and where I am in life, menopause is not a scary word. In fact, during this perimenopause stage, I find myself more irritated with the fact that this whole menopause process may go on for an entire year or longer! A whole year (or more) of irregular periods and an array of potential symptoms that no one looks forward to or graciously welcomes.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is defined as a woman’s fertility and menstrual cycle coming to an end. As a woman ages, there is a gradual decline in ovary functions and the production of estrogen and progesterone (both are hormones needed for fertility). Some say the reduction of estrogen production is the main culprit behind many of those annoying side effects.
Menopause is the end of menstruation for one year. Some women experience menopause during their 40’s and 50’s, but some experience it earlier or later. In the United States, the average age is around 51.
Menopause is a natural biological process. Yes, it means the end of your fertility, but there is no reason that you cannot stay your vital, healthy, beautiful, and sexual self. Some women actually feel relieved because they no longer need to worry about pregnancy.
Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause affects every woman differently, so these are just some of the symptoms that you may or may not experience in the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause).
Everyone has heard about the terrible hot flashes that come with menopause. Other symptoms may include night sweats, painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, increased anxiety or irritability due to lack of hormone production, decreased sex drive, and the need to urinate more often. Find help dealing with hot flashes.
You may experience irregular periods, thinning hair and dry skin, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain and slowed metabolism, and loss of breast fullness.
Well, that all sound like so much fun, who would not want to experience all of these joys of menopause?
Making Menopause Manageable
Some women will experience no symptoms; some will have a few that they can live with, while others may get every single one of the bothersome symptoms. There are natural remedies, hormone replacement therapy, vaginal estrogen creams, soy products and specific herbal supplements that may offer relief from menopausal symptoms.
I am going to stay positive about the upcoming menopause journey. After all, it is part of a woman’s life, and I would rather think about it as a happy beginning. It means no more menses (periods), tampons, pads, liners, Midol, cramping, birth control pills, patches, or IUD’s. Women are fiercely strong, and menopause is just one more thing to deal with among the 100’s of other things we take care of – so bring it on!