Menopause: The Big Change
Our foremothers, way too embarrassed to discuss the formidable symptoms of peri-menopause, faced them alone. As recently as a few years back, the cessation of the monthly cycle triggered substantial anxiety and consternation within the mature female community. In fact, it was a subject so taboo that blue-haired ladies only discussed it in hushed whispers when they were certain no one could overhear. Although menstruation was never a hot topic for mixed company, women could never broach the matter of the demise of their periods with anyone other than their closest girlfriends.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
In order to keep ideas fresh and flowing, I’m going to be inviting guest bloggers to share their perspectives on growing older. There are new boomer sites bursting forth into cyber space on a daily basis and this is a post from one of my very favorites. The Magnolia Diaries, Volume II is chock full of ideas, quotes, musings, and wonderfully crafted writing. I’m always blown away whenever I visit. I know you’ll find the same when you drop in. Here’s a recent post concerning midlife and menopause:
So, here we are into May and I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for spring. In the deep south where I originally hail from, I’m certain they are enjoying very mild and spring like temperatures. However, here in the north we’re still trying to figure out if it’s winter we want, or spring. Personally, I love winter and wouldn’t mind snow 9 months out of the year (must be the menopause speaking with those hot flashes and all), but I also wouldn’t mind a few weeks of nice spring, early summer temperatures. Yet, we are still not quite there yet.
So, as I look at the forecasts nearly daily to see if we will have warm temperatures or cool, I can’t help but think of the years that I first began my adventure into perimenopause.
Much like this time of year, with it’s constant changing, it was turbulent. There were ups and downs and times when I blew through my life with the emotional force of a cat-5 hurricane. It was not only unpleasant for me, but extremely difficult for my family as well. Though the physical changes were challenging and sent me running to the nearest doctor and herbalist for relief, I must say the bigger and more difficult changes were those that I went through psychologically.
No one prepares you for those types of changes and I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I said that it was very much like teenage years. Very volatile and very much a time of trying to figure out who you are…again. Except, this time you’re redefining what you had worked so hard to define those first 40 years of your life.
Yes, it’s that big and for many, that difficult. I’m embarrassed to say this, because now that I’m beyond it, it seems so silly. But the truth is, as a young woman I defined myself by my sexuality and my ability to produce children. I mean, let’s face it, when you are a young girl approaching adolescence, all you can think about is when you will get your period and the first time you’re going to have sex. Ok, maybe you didn’t, but I did. (and I don’t think I’m too terribly alone in this.)
The onset of menses signals womanhood in the minds of young girls and every young girl wants to be a woman. She wants to be beautiful and desired. This doesn’t change as one gets older. We are still that little girl in heart who wants (and maybe even needs) to be beautiful and desired. So, perhaps this is why many of us struggle so when we reach the menopause years. If we have spent a lifetime defining ourselves through our fertility and sexuality, then it only stands reason that when it changes, so does your self-image.
I’m not altogether sure this is a bad thing…you know, defining yourself through your fertility and sexuality. Maybe it’s quite natural. And so it’s also quite natural to begin a new definition when this part of you changes. It doesn’t make it any less traumatic however, for many of us anyway. And I certainly grieved in the truest sense of the word.
It took many years and lots of herbal supplements to get through those times, but I can say now with a certainty that I am feeling much better about life and who I am. Though I’m still not too fond of those darn hairs that keep cropping up above my lip, I would say that the lessening of estrogen and the emergence of testosterone in my body is proving to be a good thing. And oh yeah, good news ladies, sexuality hasn’t left.
Yeah, there’s some rocking and rolling there for awhile as those hormones are trying to find a new place to live and the changing most definitely affects your libido. But, it’s not permanent. In fact, the biggest secret out there is that women in their fifties and older are still highly sexual creatures. (Can you hear that loud whoop? That would be my husband)
If you are already menopausal, this is not news to you. But to those of you behind me that have yet to enter this tumultuous time, or perhaps you already have…take heart. There is something better on the other side. Grandchildren!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Those of you who read this blog know what a big fan I am of menopause. Studies show that the years past fifty are generally some of the most vital and happy in a woman’s life. The ratio of testosterone to estrogen shifts and we tend to get more outspoken, more assertive, and usually have a real urge to express ourselves in new and creative ways.
I got the opportunity to do just that when I appeared on our local ABC affiliate TV show, View From the Bay, talking about this very topic. In fact the segment was called, “Celebrating Menopause!” I realize that everyone might not use these terms but there truly is much to be grateful for at this age.
Menopause becomes the time when many women find the courage be true to ourselves in our full and abundant uniqueness. We are far less worried about fitting in or living up to the expectations of others and far more concerned with following our own heart.
So, go out and make this time your own. Take risks, stretch yourself, and find ways to be creative. In fact, why not get downright bodacious?! There never was a better time to follow your dreams and honor your SELF.
As Norman Vincent Peale once said, “You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing. Get interested in something! Get absolutely enthralled in something! Get out of yourself! Be somebody! Do something! The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”
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I know I come off as the Pollyanna of menopause—fervently and forever championing the great change. But I do want to acknowledge the struggles of my younger sisters. Perimenopause is no picnic. I was reminded of that fact reading a post by a dear cyber-friend over at the Magnolia Diaries. She has struggled through years of discomfort and is very honest and open about her journey. For those of you who are suffering, I strongly suggest you take a look at her blog.
The physical reasons behind all of that bodily turmoil are well documented. Gail Sheehy, the author of a number of books about life passages, tells us that estrogen is involved in a minimum of three hundred processes within the female body. So, it only stands to reason, when its levels are running amok with major fluctuations, many of the functions that were operating smoothly for thirty or so years are thrown into hormonal bedlam.
We ladies of a certain age know only too well the disruptions and tolls taken upon our bodies’ abilities to sleep, control temperature, manage moods, and various additional less than fun features of the experience.
So, to my sisters in the midst of this perimenopausal madness, I do want you to take heart. This too shall pass and there will be happier times ahead. Take it from one who’s been there and definitely done that—hormonal peace, emotional equilibrium, old dame confidence, and a renewed zest for living are waiting for you just around the menopausal bend.
I promise you’ll be hotter than ever—just minus the flashes!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
For centuries, menopause has gotten a bad rap. This major change of life was considered by many to be the demarcation point of no return. Post-menopausal women were thought to quickly morph into feeble, old hags—no longer attractive, no longer useful, and ready for the rocking chair.
What a bunch of deprecating drivel that was! In truth, far from representing an ending, the biggest surprise of menopause is that, in many regards, this major biomarker signifies the beginning of a woman’s life. As older women, we are entering our most rewarding and productive years. Margaret Mead was right when she coined the term, “menopausal zest” and recent studies back her up. Women report many of their happiest, most dynamic, and personally fulfilling years to be those after fifty.
In reality, once we ladies hit menopause, our outlook alters, our needs change, our responsibilities transform, and we revitalize numerous aspects of our lives. As our estrogen stores drop, so does their inhibiting effect upon our body’s testosterone levels. We continue to manufacture testosterone after menopause and its influence becomes significantly greater than when we were ovulating.
So, forget the penis envy! In truth, we midlife gals typically become more male-like. A number of our attitudes and behaviors shift and we generally exhibit greater needs for independence, self-expression, and achievement. In other words, we sprout our chin whiskers, become more outspoken and self-centered, and start to go after what we want with full force and vitality.
Trouble is, for many of us, we aren’t quite sure what that is. We’ve spent so many years focused on caring for others that we may have forgotten our own dreams and desires. If you fall into that category, the following are a few questions to get you thinking:
What are the ways you see yourself growing and changing?
How are you honoring your own voice?
In which ways are you expressing yourself creatively?
What is your personal definition of success for yourself at this time in your life?
What are your markers for achieving that success?
As Louisa May Alcott once wrote: “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
There’s no better time than now to go after your own!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
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