Thursday, February 27, 2014

Menopause – going through puberty in reverse

 
 
I just realized that in six short months I will officially be joining the 50 and older crowd.  It is so strange to think about actually being a half century old, it is even stranger to realize that those 50 years have passed, it honestly flew right by.  I know that lots of folks fear getting older – and to be fair, there are lots of struggles and challenges that come with age, but I really do feel like I am having the best time of my life right now.  My two beautiful daughters are grown and I have found an incredible partner to spend my life with, so things are really good. 
 
But…(some of you knew that but was coming, didn’t you?)  Coming close to 50 also means entering that most dreaded time of a woman’s life – Menopause.  Menopause can make life very interesting.  If you are too young to think about menopause you can stop reading right now – because this won’t mean much to you.  If you are the husband or significant other of a woman going through menopause – you need to read this to help understand why the woman you love occasionally turns into a raving lunatic.  If you are a woman in her late 40’s or older, you will be able to completely relate to what I am saying & sometimes it’s nice to know that you are not completely crazy, and that other women have felt the same way. 
 
Right now I am in what most doctors refer to as peri-menopause, and while that sounds like an expensive brand of water, it is basically the time period when my body is beginning to go through changes related to no longer being able to have children.  It seems completely odd that headaches, hot flashes, irritability, weight gain and a slowing metabolism are all the by-products of not being able to have kids anymore, but somehow all of this craziness is related inside our bodies. 
 
For me, this whole peri-menopause thing has led to some weird, embarrassing and uncomfortable situations related to my reproductive system.  I am actually working on a manuscript right now about the crazy mixed up adventures of me and my uterus and hopefully I will be able to give a humorous view of the struggles that women my age are going through.  J (Wish me luck on finishing and publishing my book).
 
For most women, menopause happens slowly over several years.  I realize this sounds like extended torture, but the good news is that, for me at least, not all of the symptoms happen all at once.  Much like when your body went into puberty, suddenly without warning you will begin to experience some interesting or uncomfortable new bodily occurrences.  For example, instead of waking up with hair on your underarms, now you get to wake up with weird hairs growing on your chin.  Instead of asking your girls friends to borrow a tampon or sanitary pad because you forgot yours, now you ask your girls friends to borrow their reading glasses. 
 
Perhaps the most well known menopause symptom for women are hot flashes.  These little adventures can happen at any time of the day or night, and they prefer to happen at the most inopportune times.  I have a friend who refers to these little blessed events as her own personal trip to the tropics, which is actually a quite fitting description for the sudden feeling that you are drowning inside a hot humid swamp of some kind.  For me, these little personalized sauna adventures actually start in one spot, my face or neck perhaps and then slowly migrate across my entire body.  The really good news is the once I am completely drenched in sweat, after 4 or 5 minutes it actually starts to go away.  Until I get another one at the next most inopportune time.
 
Another prominent feature of menopause are frequent headaches, this has something to do with the changing levels of hormones in your body.  Even women who are not prone to regular headaches seem to have more of them during this fantastic adventure leading to menopause. 
 
One of the most dreaded symptoms of menopause for women is weight gain.  As your body enters menopause, your metabolism slows down and the weight can begin to add up, particularly in the middle section of your body, giving your shape that lovely barrel effect that so many women desire.  Some women try valiantly to ward off the weight gain by frantic attempts at diet and exercise, but often this is not entirely successful. 
 
The most notorious symptom of menopause might be the mood swings and irritability – but since we have already mentioned hair growth in unwanted places, hot flashes, headaches and weight gain – is it really any surprise that women going through menopause are irritable?
 
Doctors generally agree that a woman is officially in menopause once her monthly period have stopped for a year or longer, which is the only menopause symptom that I am actually looking forward to. 
 
While menopause is an undeniable part of getting older, the good news is that it is only temporary, and once you have endured through the crazy mixed up world of menopause, you can now relax and enjoy being part of the post menopause club and have fun watching as other women go through it. 




 

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