Understanding what menopause is – and how to make these the most vibrant years of your life
by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
Topics covered in this article:
• The gifts of menopause and post-menopause for women
• Stamping out the stigma of menopause
• The journey to menopause: midlife transitions
• The Women to Women approach to menopause
It astounds me that women are still being told that (and treated as if) menopause and midlife are a disease — something to be avoided at all costs — when the very opposite is true. Menopause is a gift, a lantern lighting the way to significant transformation in all areas of your life. I want you to know, unequivocally, that you can feel and look better than you ever imagined after menopause, even if your symptoms right now are terrible. It just takes a little help and a lot of self-care. I know this to be true because I’ve experienced it myself and I’ve seen it time and again in my medical practice.
Women to Women sometimes feels like an island surrounded by a sea of negative thinking — especially when it comes to menopause. But from where I sit, the view of midlife is gorgeous: the waters are Caribbean blue, the skies balmy, and the horizon has never looked brighter.
Menopause is a developmental milestone in women’s health — like puberty in reverse — and it’s different for every woman. The word menopause comes from two Greek words: menos or “month,” and pausis or “cease.” At menopause, your ovarian function declines, your menstruation cycle stops, and the monthly spike of reproductive hormones recedes.
This does not mean your body stops making sex hormones altogether — it means you don’t get your period and, if you haven’t menstruated for over 12 months, you almost certainly won’t get pregnant. So go ahead and throw out those tampons and Kotex and buy yourself some nice new underwear. The cessation of monthly cycles can be incredibly liberating.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be some stormy seas. It means that paradise doesn’t come in a pill — it comes from finding out who you really are, what your body really needs, and what you really want to do with this part of your life.
So let’s brave this new sea and swim for shore — I promise you, the water is fine.
The gifts of menopause and post-menopause for women
Once a woman reaches menopause, life gets simpler. Post-menopausal women can maintain regular cycles of energy with much less fatigue. Plus, strange food cravings and binges disappear, as do monthly mood swings and breast tenderness. And there are no more awkward moments walking backwards out of a restaurant with your sweater tied around your hips.
The secret no one tells you is that midlife can be the most radiant, passionate years of your life. Self-knowledge and self-confidence are the true gifts of menopause — they create an inner glow that more than cancels out other physical changes. One patient describes it as finally owning her skin after years of struggling to pay rent.