WOVA is getting ready to embark on an endeavor to find out what has not been said about Menopause! We are working on a very big project that we will share in the weeks to come.
Why have we not heard much of anything when it comes to this “life-altering” CHANGE? I believe the only thing that has been touched on EVER is the “hot flashes!” I kind of, sort of tried to prepare myself for those. I figured I’d be able to deal with that, after all, I’m anemic already, I’d welcome being hot instead of cold! NOT!!! Geez, I had NO idea it would be like this.
So in my attempt to start the process of trying to enlighten you and me and the same time, I have gone on a mission to find out more. I came across a great article written by Nancy Hall. She nailed it! Kudos to you Nancy for reading my mind!
10 Things I Didn’t Know About Menopause
Find out about one woman’s experience with “the change”
I couldn’t wait for menopause. It sounded so straightforward. I figured I would just pick up where I left off on the day I got my first period (12 years old, hot summer day, candy-striped shorts, public library—enough said). All you have to do is go 12 months without a period, right? How complicated could that be? Turns out that there were just a few things I didn’t know…
1. When it comes to planning for menopause, you may as well throw your calendar out the window. At 47 (the magic number for my mom) I became convinced that menopause was in sight. I was worse than a kid on a car trip: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Then, starting in January of the year I turned 49, I went 11 months without a period. Certain that I was home free, I prepared to sell my stash of tampons to the highest bidder. Two weeks later, guess what I got for Christmas? Yep. Mother Nature has a cruel sense of humor.
2. The phrase “Be still, my heart” may take on new meaning. I was at the movie theater, watching King Kong thrashing dinosaurs on the big screen, when my heart started to thump for what felt like a terrifyingly long time. I tried to chalk it up to the thunderous surround sound and the fourth-row seats. (I also considered that I might be about to die, and certainly didn’t want “death by cheesy movie” in my obituary.) As it turned out, menopause (not the movie) was to blame. Apparently, estrogen also messes with how our bodies react to the perception of danger, excitement or stress. And sometimes, as estrogen levels in our bodies diminish, it makes a few errors in judgment and sends our hearts racing. Thanks a lot, estrogen.
3. If you thought you were forgetful before menopause, just you wait. I’ve got a theory that during childbirth, maternal brain cells drain away as soon as our water breaks. But I was stunned to find that menopause seems to have stolen my remaining marbles. I can’t find my keys, I call my kids and my dogs by each others’ names and I have more and more of those moments when I find myself standing in the kitchen wondering “What am I in here for?” The little gray memory cells follow the great estrogen march to the sea like chipmunks leaping off cliffs. Or is it lemmings that do that? I forget.
4. Get ready to get busy. The MPS (Menopause Propaganda Squad) wants us to believe that it’s time to hang up our gloves, sexually speaking. Well . . . go ahead and take them off. And your jeans. And your shirt and your socks and your granny panties, because, you know what? It ain’t over after all—sex not only doesn’t end with menopause, but many, many, many, many of us find that it’s better than ever, what with our birth control in the trash and our remaining hormones still ready to get down. Who knew?
5. Hot flashes are not over in a flash. Flash means fast, right? As the name would seemingly suggest, I thought that hot flashes would be quick little, well, flashes. A moment of heat, then it’s gone. Nope. They are lengthy and nuanced events that come in stages. There’s the nanosecond of nausea that heralds their arrival. Then the l-o-o-o-n-g slow burn during which you contribute to the acceleration of global warming. Then the incendiary volcanic peak, followed by the slow-cooling ending, resulting in a flood of cold sweat that sends you scurrying for dry sheets in the middle of the night. Then repeat. Repeat many times a day for . . . well, so far, going on three years. Menopause, it turns out, is the gift that keeps on giving. (Photo by iStockphoto)
6. That extra weight is in no hurry to leave. All the pounds that I used to be able to banish by carefully balancing the gym-to–potato chip ratio have now become firmly attached to me. Can’t shake the darn things off no matter what I do. Seriously, guys? I have to give up potato chips? I didn’t sign up for this.
7. You may not even recognize your periods. Menopause gives new meaning to “going with the flow.” This time of life can turn a woman’s well-behaved little periods into something rarely seen outside of a Wes Craven film. Nobody told me I’d have hours during which it was not only impossible to leave the house, it was impossible to leave the bathroom. The feminine hygiene industry folks are probably working in a secret bunker somewhere on a product that can absorb the volume of the Red Sea, but it will have come too late for me.
8. One size does not fit all. I once assumed that one woman’s change of life experience was pretty much like another’s. Now I believe the word menopause is derived from the Greek word for “your mileage may vary.” What you experience as anxiety, discomfort or 16 kinds of weirdness may be a piece of cake for your girlfriends—and vice versa. One woman’s easy may be another’s misery. Support each other and try to avoid playing the “I can top that” game.
9. It raises a whole slew of other health concerns. My reproductive department has ceded the spotlight to issues like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, osteoporosis, joint degeneration and breast cancer. And these growing blips on my anxiety radar are closer than they appear. The estrogen that kept us juicy, shiny and supple inside (and out) also kept our other systems healthy. As the estrogen trickles away, I spend more time worrying about—and taking care of—my overall health. The menopause/mortality connection? It’s going to take some getting used to.
10. Despite all of the ups and downs, it’s actually pretty great. Do you want to hear the thing about menopause that surprised me most of all? I love it. And for all the continuing hot flashes and the reluctance of those new pounds to budge, I honestly feel like I really have gotten back some of that preadolescent freedom. The real thing about menopause that no one tells you is that life after the dreaded “change” can bring more balance, creativity and self-acceptance than I’d dreamed of. I’ve lost my candy-striped shorts, my memory and probably my last few marbles, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. What comes next? I don’t know, but bring it on—I’m ready.