Ladies Health Blog: Menopause – Reaching the Age of the Sage
Part 1: What is Perimenopause / Menopause?
It’s been described as Adolescence 2.0 for middle-aged ladies: Acne, moodiness, fatigue, breast tenderness, anxiety, depression, occasional hot flashes, night sweets, weight gain and issues with self-esteem. It’s Perimenopause. The time when the female body begins its transition into menopause. The reproductive hormone levels (Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, Luteinizing Hormone and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone) begin to decline. It typically begins in the mid-40s. Periods may be lighter, heavier, a period or several periods may be skipped or the period may be late.
Then comes along it’s bigger sister – Menopause. The natural cessation of periods for 12 consecutive months marking the end of the female reproductive cycle. The symptoms typically appear 4 years before the last period and can last for 4 years after the last period. Most healthy women do not require medical care to treat Menopause but many seek alternative and complementary remedies to help with the discomforts. The median age for Menopause to begin is 51 although African-American and Latino women typically start a couple of years earlier. The symptoms are much like perimenopause: breast tenderness, joint pain, hot flashes (75% of women experience hot flashes while going through menopause), flushing, breasts feel less full, nausea/morning sickness, (Yes! Are you pregnant or menopausal?! It’s possible to get pregnant through the process of perimenopause & menopause so continue to take precautions), insomnia, vaginal dryness, weight gain, anxiety, depression, lower libido, increased libido (for some women, this time provides a more enjoyable, confident, holistic sense of their sexuality), difficulty concentrating, memory loss, increased urination, racing heart, headaches, reduced muscle mass, bone loss and thinning of the hair.
It sounds daunting but it’s a natural process and it can be managed with natural methods. The benefit of menopause is becoming a sage, a wise woman. The hormones have quieted and so have the emotions and physical trappings associated with monthly cycles. It’s time to nurture yourself and enjoy life to the fullest. According to Dr. Christine Northrup, “We go from an alternating current of inner wisdom to a direct current that remains on all the time after menopause is complete. During menopause, our brains make the change from one way of being to the other.” From thenewmenopause.com site: “There is a common thread though- women in their fifties seem to come to a point where we can finally feel we OWN our own sexuality. This is SO liberating. It’s no longer about pleasing someone else; it’s no longer about having a perfect body. It’s no longer about what’s ‘normal’. It’s no longer about outward attractiveness. It’s about US. It’s about how we FEEL in our bodies and how we WANT to feel. It’s about how WE define intimacy, how WE define pleasure. It’s about finally saying what WE want. In short, it’s about sexual emancipation. What I see in women at midlife is a fierce owning of our sexual autonomy, sometimes for the first time in our lives. For the first time, many of us are saying “My body is mine, my pleasure is mine, my sexual experience is mine to define.” This means opening new doors, sometimes healing old wounds. It can be a time of adventure, liberation, exploration, sadness, healing, confusion, change.”
Now that you’ve heard the good news/bad news about perimenopause & menopause, let’s explore some of the ways you can address the issues you may experience when you’re going through your ‘change of life’ so the ride is as smooth as possible.