Living in Menopause
It has stigma….. negative, unfair beliefs. It doesn’t have to be that way. Like many things in our lives, we can choose to think about it in a different way. What if menopause wasn’t associated with suffering? What if the process was more understood, more revered, more celebrated?
Did you know that the average age of menopause is 51? As a woman at the age of 49, fully in the midst of perimenopause, I am choosing my path with positivity. I’m don’t feel nearly as old as I thought I would when I reached this time in my life. When I think of myself the words that come to mind are experienced, vital, powerful, vigorous, and competent. I am the same me as I was when I was 21, 31 and even 41. Only now my body needs to be cared for just a little differently and more intentionally. Menopause is a change. A change but not an end. It doesn’t mean that my life is over. In this current time, people are living about 1/3 of their lives in menopause. And living is what I plan to do.
Experiences and symptoms of this change are wildly different for everyone. Some go through perimenopause and menopause as a process over a period of time. This is the natural and dare I say normal transition of the female body. Just like puberty, it is a time of hormonal change. Others may experience menopause abruptly. This may be the result of an intervention like perhaps an oophorectomy or chemotherapy treatment. Having a hysterectomy alone does not create menopause. It eliminates your menses but it does not stop the function of your ovaries. You will still experience the hormonal changes at some point in time. People who were born with female anatomy who have transitioned to a male gender using hormonal therapies and possibly surgical interventions may still experience menopausal symptoms at some point in their lives. I have not spent much time studying this and am interested in learning more as I am able.
Mindset on how you will manage this change in your body is the biggest indicator of how you feel during this time. This is the really same for everything in life. Yes, everything. When presented with a situation, your experience will differ based the way you choose to see it. You don’t have a choice in the changes that are happening but you do have some control over how you manage it. Educate yourself, seek out support, work with knowledgeable health care providers. You don’t have to sacrifice this time in your life. Live it!
Hormones are responsible for creating a well choreographed dance within the many systems of your body. They are little messengers directing the body for more of this and less of that. When this dance is interrupted, just like in any performance, it is noticeable. This can be detected with just a little focus and is not exclusive only to times of perimenopause or menopause.
Some things that you might notice in your body with any hormonal imbalance:
So now what do you do about it? The best advice I have heard is to “Control the controllables”. There is so much you can do in preparation and in response to the changes that occur in a hormonally changing body AND they are all the things that people are repeatedly saying in any “how to be healthy” article, book, news report, podcast, television show.
Now, let me be honest. When I look at that list, the “four pillars of health”, I roll my eyes. I think, damn it! What the heck? I know! Yea, yea, whatever! I have heard it ALL. Isn’t there a better answer? A magic pill? Something that will do the work for me because I am tired of trying…. And I am also tired of failing. And then after I stomp my feet and pound my fists I put on my grown-up pants and continue on. Because the truth of the matter is I love myself, in all my failures and in all my glories, in all my truths and in all my faults. That also doesn’t make it any easier.
“Nothing in the body happens in isolation” is an oh so important thing to remember. When you do or don’t do something, there is a response. If I choose to eat the sugary thing, my body has a hormonal response. If I don’t choose to manage my stress, my body has a hormonal response. If I choose to mindfully eat my food, my body has a different hormonal response. If I choose to set the scene for restful sleep, my body builds resilience. If I choose to adopt a breath and meditation process, I am strengthening my bodies ability to respond better to future stress. It is all relative and you don’t have to adopt it all at once.
Knowledge is power. The more you learn, the more you understand, the clearer your ability to make decisions, the easier it is to choose. That is my goal. My personal goal for myself and my professional goal for you. I am taking the time to do the learning. I am fortunate to have that ability. I am in turn, offering to share my knowledge with you, help you find a way to work through it all at your pace, at your ability, with your available resources. That is the piece that I see missing time and time again. Do this, do that. But how? If it was easy, you would have done it by now and frankly so would I.
For my information on how to get support, check out SEA (support, education & accountability) on the Holistic Health Strategies portion of my website.
Stay safe, be well, breath and stretch,