It has been an interesting journey since entering menopause. I remember conversing with my physician at an annual checkup a couple of years ago. He was looking for information based on family history. Information, like when my mom started experiencing symptoms of menopause, etc.
Seeing as she had a hysterectomy, a procedure that removes one’s ovaries, her experience and timelines were a bit of an anomaly. Hence, the best guess from the physician was that my body would start marking the end of the reproductive years through the natural transition to menopause soon.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the symptoms are all there, from irregular periods to hot flashes to urinary urgency and vaginal dryness. Oh my. Some may squirm at the sheer thought of talking about such things… womanly body functions and all – but if we are not talking about it, as women, then who is – and why shouldn’t we be? According to the World Bank collection of development indicators, females represent 50.31% of Canada’s population, and another reference states that approximately 3 out of every 4 women experience menopausal symptoms yet fail to understand why they are experiencing them or note that the symptoms interfere with their daily lives.
So, what have I learned about menopause, other than it has been a tough couple of years dealing with night sweats, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain, and a slowed metabolism, to name a few of the symptoms? Primarily, I have learned to appreciate my body and the transition it is going through. For it is this body that has been with me through all the bumps and bruises I encountered as a child, the body that reacted, responded, fought off, or conquered various infections, ailments, and allergies, the body that carried my children through successful pregnancies, bounced back and recovered after numerous surgeries.
The body I hope will carry me well into my older years.
Aside from the stated ‘negative’ effects of menopause, menopause can also have positive effects on one’s life, such as physical changes or reduced hormone levels that cause emotional or social changes that can be energizing rather than demotivating.
I have found a renewed sense and purpose in my health and wellness regime, trying different foods or experimenting with unusual ways to prepare my food, a greater appreciation for multivitamins, and a more focused effort on my motivation to stretch, strengthen and put my body through a physical workout.
Whatever your experience is with menopause – whether you have long since traded in your sexy lingerie for a more comfortable pair of pyjamas at night and find comfort in the whirling sound of an oscillating fan to keep you cool, or you are too busy living in the here and now to worry about the transition your body will undoubtedly go through much later on in your life, just know you are not alone.
Each woman has, does, and will experience menopause differently. These experiences include responses based on cultural variations and social and psychological determinants. Pay attention to what your body is doing and ‘saying’ to you. Embrace it, make the necessary or appropriate changes to survive and thrive, and seek professional help or consultation if something does not feel right.
Jacqueline Biollo has embraced many aspects of the natural stage of aging, menopause being just one of them. For example, she has also embraced that her muscles have become more rigid and less toned, that her memory sometimes escapes her, and that her eyesight is no longer 20:20. But Jacqueline remains optimistic that her life cycle continues to progress in the direction it should, and for that, she is eternally grateful.
Photo by Coral Konanz Photography