During menopause, it’s not uncommon for women to speak up about a variety of concerns. You may feel like you have less control of your emotions than you are used to. Some women experience changes in body hair, like the loss of hair in some areas or the growth or thickening of facial hair. The difficulty with the intimate response is another change that menopausal women may notice. Breakouts across your face and body can happen much like they did during puberty. More than a few women have described it as feeling like they’re no longer the ones in the drivers’ seat when it comes to their bodies; an “invasion of the body snatchers” sensation. As uncomfortable and unnatural as it may seem, menopause is a natural process.
Like most things in life, there isn’t a set of circumstances that the body conforms to that are “normal.”
Normal is, and always has been, an overall average. When you look at it that way, it’s easier to understand why the term “normal” isn’t as important a term as most people think it is. Every woman is unique, and so her experience with menopause will be unique as well. Some women breeze through menopause barely noticing any difference in their body. Others may start showing signs more than five to ten years before menopause actually sets in, and continue to feel the effects the entire way through. Both of those scenarios may be perfectly normal for the women who experience them.
Menopause is a drastic change in hormones, so was puberty.
Whereas puberty flooded your body with hormones it wasn’t accustomed to, menopause transitions your body back to functioning without as much of them. In a way, it’s like reversing out of puberty. Take a moment and think about all of the things that your mind and body began to do when you went through puberty. Your emotions may have been more difficult to control; it’s possible you found it nearly impossible to focus. Did you gain weight or struggle with acne? Now think about someone else you know and what their puberty looked like. Their bodies may have responded to the new influx of hormones in a completely different way. Maybe they dealt with breast tenderness and cramps, or excessive hair. Two very different responses to the same ‘change’ going on in the body. Both can be completely ‘normal’.
Imagine yourself driving down a long country road. Think about the things you might see outside of your window as you drive. You may see grass, fences, trees or cows. Now imagine yourself making a U-turn and coming back down that same road. You’ll pass the same things, but it’s possible this time you notice birds, a barn and a large field of crops. A passenger in the same vehicle that you’re in who is passing all of the same things that you are may take notice of things that you didn’t. Menopause and puberty could be considered two different sides of that same country road. Driving toward your U-turn point could be like going through puberty. Driving back to your original point is like menopause. You will pass the same milestones, but you may experience them in different ways. Other people taking that same journey may have a completely different experience.