Many western women have a deep and abiding fear of menopause. They have heard it called “the change of life,” and they wonder if “change” is just a nice way of saying “the end.” We see menopause portrayed in the media as a time of physical and emotional distress, filled with crying fits, unreasonable anger, inability to control what your body does and once it’s over, you’re just “old.” Interestingly, many other cultures do not view menopause this way at all and women all over the world grow up not only not fearing menopause, but in some cases looking forward to it. To these women, and to western women who share this mindset, menopause is a transition away from the responsibilities and discomforts you have known for most of your adult life and into a period of freedom, wisdom, better health and even more fun.
Regardless of what culture has influenced your view of the menopausal process itself, the majority of post-menopausal women report that, once menopause is over, they feel great. Post-menopausal women consistently say that life is better and more fun than it has ever been. They don’t deal with the discomfort and inconvenience of a monthly menstrual cycle anymore, in many cases, their children (if they have any) are old enough not to need them as much anymore. Their careers are at a well-established and stable point; their home lives may be comfortable, and these women have the wisdom to know exactly what they want and are not afraid to go after it.
It’s true, a small percentage of women sail right through menopause without a problem. Most women, however, will experience some reaction to the hormonal fluctuations of menopause. These responses are different from woman to woman. You may experience fatigue and hot flashes while a close friend deals with mood swings. There is no “normal”, only what is normal for you and not uncommon on a larger scale.
The experiences associated with menopause may be confusing and frustrating. It sometimes helps to think of menopause as puberty in reverse. It wouldn’t be unusual to experience a lot of the same changes, in fact. You might break out across your face and body. Your skin may suddenly change. You may find yourself having trouble focusing or regulating your internal thermometer. These signs are frustrating but are typically not dangerous. Night sweats is a good example of a menopausal sign that is nothing more than physically uncomfortable. Hot flashes are another kind of unpleasant menopausal reaction.
Menopause is not the end; rather it’s the beginning of a particularly exciting phase of life. Keep that thought!!!! Menopause is NOT a disease, it is simply a part of living and growing older.