Tired of listening to the negative stories about menopause? So are we! We see hundreds of women in their menopause years with bright shining faces (no, the shine is not related to hot flashes!) and energetic spirits who are loving life now that they are done with periods and no longer have to worry about getting pregnant and child rearing.
These positive and empowered women tell a different menopause story than the one we’re used to hearing, and we’d like to share it with you. Menopause is not a depressing ending – it’s an inspiring beginning, and there are multiple reasons to celebrate and stay positive throughout your menopause journey.
1. Learn to pay attention to your body. During the family and child-rearing years, it can feel like our bodies cease to be our own. They are wholly the property of our gestating and then breastfeeding babies to start. Then they become the holding tank, the perpetual lap and often the means of getting from one place to another during the toddler years. Once your child is older, you hardly have a minute to spare for your own body since you’re working, minding the house, running hither and yon for school/sports/music/dance/etc. Whew!
That can translate into complete disconnection from your inner- and outer-self. If you ignore the subtle changes that occur during menopause, the more moderate symptoms may force you to wake up! Keep in mind that early menopause is a possibility as well. Pay attention to any changes in your body like temperature fluctuations, irritability, or discomfort during sex and mention them to your OB/GYN. The sooner menopause is identified, the better you will be at staying on top of it and mitigating its symptoms.
2. It’s the perfect reason to make those dietary changes you’ve been meaning to implement. Diet plays a critical role in your body’s ability to weather the menopause storm. All those guilty pleasures, like processed foods, sugars, unhealthy fats, etc., can actually exacerbate your symptoms and/or will make you gain more weight. Once your estrogen levels begin to drop, a well-balanced diet can be your best line of defense when it comes to feeling good. Increasing foods like yams, whole grains, peas, dried beans and unprocessed soy (which contain natural phytoestrogens) can help a little to balance any symptomatic discomforts.
3. Have sex whenever you want (and wherever you want if your kids are gone). You might not even realize how much you have worried about getting pregnant until getting pregnant isn’t an option any more. As you meander through your 40s, consider migrating away from any hormonal-based birth control options so you can see what your real hormones are up to these days. That, in itself, may bring about some celebratory changes in terms of weight loss, fewer headaches, and the ceasing of other birth control-related side effects. Once you haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row, your doctor will make the official “Menopause!” diagnosis and you can have worry-free sex whenever and wherever you want.
4. Kick the smoking habit once and for all. That aforementioned healthy diet will help you out quite a bit, but lower estrogen levels can affect your heart health. Post-menopausal women are at greater risk for heart disease so smoking cigarettes is even more risky than it was before. Use this biological transition as a reason to make some more concrete physical transitions in your life and quit smoking. There are so many options to help people quit these days. Talk to your doctor about the cessation method(s) that will work best for you.
5. You are alive! Use menopause as an opportunity to hone your relationship with yourself. Think of the friends and relatives whose sparks were snuffed out as children, teenagers or young adults. So many women never have the luxury of knowing life in the menopause years. That, in itself, is enough to make you celebrate being alive and counting your many blessings.