Hot flashes? Mood swings? Could it be? It is possible you are experiencing menopause? Menopause is one of those topics that isn’t often discussed, yet it is a significant event in every woman’s life. How is it that we avoid talking about something so universal to our feminine identity? Perhaps it is due to our society’s obsession with youthfulness that there is a level of embarrassment behind menopause. Why be embarrassed over a natural process that every woman will experience? The truth is menopause can cause significant challenges and changes in a woman’s body, so trying to navigate this process alone can be overwhelming. Let’s work on breaking the silence and talk about ways to help deal with menopause with dignity and confidence.
What is happening exactly?
Menopause actually happens in three phases: Perimenopause, Menopause, and Post-Menopause. Perimenopause is when you may first begin to notice hot flashes, forgetfulness, sleep disturbances, mood swings and other symptoms. These symptoms are a sign that your body is shifting its hormone and estrogen level, but your periods will not stop during perimenopause. Menopause itself happens around the age of 50 and is the phase where you have not had a period for an entire calendar year. Post- Menopause is the season after menopause where the same symptoms may last 5-10 years beyond menopause itself. Other common symptoms in all three phases may include: decreased libido, fatigue, vaginal dryness, memory lapses, weight gain and bone density loss.
Talk about it.
First and foremost, speak with your doctor about what you are experiencing. There are various options in treatment of the symptoms of menopause, everything from hormone replacement therapy, to natural alternatives. You and your doctor can discuss these options and decide if any of these treatments are right for you. Even though menopause is a natural biological process that doesn’t necessarily need medical intervention, symptoms like bone density loss may need to be evaluated by your doctor to ensure maintenance of your health.
Secondly, talk to your friends and family about it. Let them know what you are going through and allow them to support you through this season of life. Your friends may be experiencing similar symptoms and you can share tips and tricks to help manage, or perhaps you will just feel better knowing that you are not alone in what you are experiencing. Be careful in comparing yourself to your peers though, like most developmental changes, menopause impacts every woman very differently.
Don’t forget about your family! Be open and honest with your partner with what you are experiencing. A drop in libido may be impacting your intimacy, and talking about it can help your partner support you through these changes. If you are living with other family members, bring them into the discussion as well. Mood swings, and increased fatigue may impact your family life. Honesty and openness will provide your family context to your behavior and allow them to be empathetic to your experiences.
Watch your self-talk.
Because we live in a society that struggles to embrace the aging process, you may find menopause stressful and depressing. Watch the way you are are framing your experience. If you find yourself thinking things like “It is only downhill from here”, or “Wow, this means I am old”… STOP. Try to change your inner dialogue to more positive thoughts like “Now I get to embrace a new season of life”. Besides, menopause isn’t all that bad. Not having to worry about tracking periods, or dealing with the monthly hormone changes will be quite nice!
Mood changes, shifts in hormones, and major life adjustments are always a challenge to manage your mental health and overall wellness. If you feel as though you may need to speak to a therapist about coping with this season of your life, book in a time to speak to a psychologist call us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.