Reframing Menopause

discover the freedom

It’s difficult to view menopause as a positive time when it’s such a negative sounding word.

Somehow, the “pause” part suggests an end to something great. So perhaps our solutions for reframing menopause begins with the word itself.

Should we be interpreting it as “me? NO pause” instead? Because, in fact, menopause marks the start of an exciting time of life.

The American author Florence King once famously said: “a woman must wait for her ovaries to die before she can get her rightful self back“. Wow, that’s a powerful statement, but the sentiment absolutely resonates with me.

 

The End & The Beginning

Menopause means the end to our fertility, but it also marks the end of monthly periods (hooray!) As well as this it’s the beginning of the second half of our lives. A time where we can live with the benefit of all the life lessons learned during the first half.

In a recent edition of New Zealand Listener magazine, Nicky Pellegrino wrote about the ‘The Age of Success, The Rise and Rise of Older Women’. “Advancing age seems an unlikely tool in a woman’s arsenal to break the glass ceiling,” she wrote. “But growing numbers of 50-plus women are taking on new challenges and rising up the ranks.

The Gift Of Freedom

The menopausal years or second spring coincide with major lifestyle changes such as children becoming more independent and leaving home. Then there’s mortgages being paid off, more discretionary income, better job opportunities and pay, the joy of grandchildren, the opportunity to explore new interests and above all, more time for yourself.

In a word, menopausal women, are given the gift of freedom. Freedom from the constraints of running a busy household, freedom from the pressures of climbing the corporate ladder and freedom to express themselves authentically.

To make the most of that gift we need to begin reframing menopause. To turn the change of life into a positive time. Furthermore, we need to recognise the signs of menopause early and get them under control so we can care for our health in post-menopause.

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.