No Secrets Here!
None of us are getting any younger. And guess what, that is OK! No matter what our popular culture tells us, aging is a privilege (and one denied to many, at that). So why is it that women are often in the dark when it comes to what to expect when you are definitely *not* expecting?
Yeah, I'm talking about menopause. And men who are reading this, don't check out and click away! Chances are you live or work with women of all ages and you will soon have front row seat to a woman going through the menopause transition. And, I know: you guys have your own set of transitions associated with aging...but that will have to be another blog post.
There are lot of reasons why menopause isn't talked about much, even just among us girls. We don't like to be seen as complainers. Menopause is often lumped in with sexual health, which is "icky". Most medical research is done on (healthy, college-aged) men, so there's not a lot of evidence-based medical advice about side effects of menopause. It also comes at a time when many women are existing in the sandwich generation: caring for both their not-quite-adult children and their aging parents - and quite frankly, they are putting themselves last. There are probably at least a dozen more reasons contributing to the lack of conversation about this momentous life phase and these do lead to one not-so-great shared experience: loneliness. Many women feel they are on a solo journey because of this. So what to do?
If you have a friend or family group you can share with, start there for sure. Another thing for anyone struggling with symptoms that you feel may be menopause-related is to record what is happening: whether it is low energy, hot flashes, weird periods, a sieve for a brain, or the dim remembrance of a full night's sleep. Bring this list to your medical provider to help guide any therapy that they can prescribe. Let yourself be heard!
There is not a universal menopause experience. Some women sail through and some women, well, don't (there's conflicting evidence of how to predict which camp you'll find yourself in though, and one of the most likely is family experience, so that's another reason to get talking). The best way to approach menopause is to be informed as best as possible so that you can try to maintain at least some quality of life and health. This can only happen through sharing accurate information, and we can all do our part!