News Flash About Menopause
At this very moment, I am hot, sweaty and to be perfectly honest, kind of disgusting. True, it is getting to be summer in Texas which can be unbearable under the best of circumstances, but the extreme weather is not the reason I am an overheated mess. The explanation is simply that I am going through what used to be called “the change”. It hits us all, though some women suffer more than others. I am not one to complain, but these hot flashes are a BUMMER.
It is perfectly normal for women to experience major hormonal changes as we age; 75% of us will endure some sort of hot flash in life. For me, a hot flash is a sudden feeling of extreme heat followed by redness in my face and profuse sweating. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable. In addition, since entering menopause, I now have frequent insomnia and other sleep issues, also common symptoms according to an incredibly informal study I conducted among a less than random group of friends. In fact, approximately 61% of women experience sleep problems according to the National Sleep Foundation. It’s more difficult than ever for me to maintain a healthy weight. I am moody, irritable, anxious and just not that much fun to be around…sometimes. And sometimes I’m fine. The dreaded vaginal dryness and painful sex is a whole other conversation. All that being said, I still feel this phase of life can also be a beautiful, enlightening, and yes, even sexy time for women. We need to educate others as to what to expect, how to cope and let others know they are not alone.
Why Don’t Women Want to Talk About “The Change”?
When I read about the AARP Menopause Survey, I was surprised to learn that 42 percent of the more than 400 participating women between the ages of 50 and 59 said they never discussed menopause with a health care provider. The same survey showed 84 percent of women stated their symptoms interfere with their lives and 12 percent said they interfere “a great deal” or are debilitating. Why are we not talking to each other?
We don’t talk about menopause because a stigma against aging is common in our society, particularly for women. This normal life change is perceived as bad, indicating the end of a woman’s best years. Though menopause is a completely normal part of a life cycle for anyone with ovaries and a uterus, even women seem to view it through a negative lens.
Are There Positive Things About Menopause?
YES, without a doubt. Many women gain a sexy new confidence as they age. The wisdom accumulated over the years and the choice to learn from past mistakes provides opportunities to blossom. Menopause is about second chances and new freedoms that open up at this time. We have a newfound independence with kids out of the house and time to pursue interests and passions previously put on hold. Finally, we can focus on our own spiritual growth rather than taking care of everyone else’s needs. The second half of life can absolutely be every bit as rewarding, if not more so, than the first half. We can use this time to refresh or reinvent ourselves.
The Bottom Line:
Let’s be allies to other women experiencing menopause and support each other openly. Educating others, both male and female, will help eliminate the stigma. What are or where your experiences? Please share in the comment section below or email us privately. We would love to hear your thoughts.
Some Lesser-Known Facts About Menopause
While many people are familiar with the basic concept of menopause, there are several lesser-known facts and aspects of this phase that are worth knowing.
Early Menopause Possibility
While the average age of menopause is around 51, some women may experience menopause in their 40s or even earlier. This is referred to as early menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency and can have various underlying causes, including genetics, medical conditions, and treatments like chemotherapy.
Menopause isn’t an abrupt event; it’s preceded by a transitional phase called perimenopause. This phase can last for several years and involves hormonal fluctuations, leading to irregular periods, hot flashes, and other symptoms commonly associated with menopause.
Women who undergo a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) with removal of both ovaries will experience what’s known as surgical menopause. This process is sudden and more intense than natural menopause, as the body experiences an immediate drop in hormone levels.
Symptoms Vary Widely
While hot flashes and night sweats are well-known menopausal symptoms, other less-discussed symptoms include mood changes, joint pain, memory problems, and changes in sexual desire. These can vary greatly in intensity and duration among different women.
Impact of Menopause on Bone Health
Estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining bone density. After menopause, decreased estrogen levels can lead to a higher risk of osteoporosis, a condition where bones become more fragile and susceptible to fractures.
Estrogen also has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. After menopause, women’s risk of heart disease increases, putting them at a similar risk level as men. Taking steps to maintain heart health, such as through diet and exercise, becomes especially important during and after menopause.
Lower estrogen levels during menopause can lead to changes in the vaginal tissues, resulting in dryness, discomfort, and pain during intercourse. This condition is called vaginal atrophy and can be managed with lubricants, moisturizers, and medical treatments.
Menopausal women often experience sleep disturbances, including insomnia. Hormonal changes and related symptoms like hot flashes can contribute to sleep difficulties. Managing sleep hygiene and seeking medical advice can help alleviate these issues.
Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to a shift in how fat is distributed in the body, often resulting in weight gain around the abdomen. This can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and related health issues.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Some women choose hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage menopausal symptoms. HRT involves taking estrogen and, sometimes, progesterone to alleviate symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal discomfort. However, it’s not suitable for everyone and carries potential risks, so it’s important to consult a healthcare provider before starting HRT.
Remember that menopause is a unique experience for each woman, influenced by factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. If you or someone you know is going through menopause, seeking guidance from a healthcare professional can help in managing its various aspects and understanding how to navigate this phase of life.