Menopause has a PR problem. It’s talked about it in whispers, if at all, and often comes to those going through it with a feeling of sadness, embarrassment or shame. But it shouldn’t be this way. Menopause is a natural part of life for all women, and even has some benefits, like never having to buy tampons again. The stigma around menopause means that you may go through it without adequate medical or psychological support. Finding the right help and information will enable you to better manage the physical and emotional ups and downs of menopause.
Finding the right help and information will enable you to better manage the physical and emotional ups and downs of menopause.
It’s easy to confuse some of the lesser known symptoms of menopause for just good old fashioned signs of ageing. But, there’s more to menopause than hot flushes and night sweats. Most women experience irregular bleeding for several years before their final period. Your hormones are readjusting to a new world order and this can cause symptoms like vaginal dryness, brain fog and hair loss. (Yes, hair loss.) Knowledge is power, right? So find out what’s going on with your body. Stick to trustworthy and evidence-based sources of truth, rather than online forums that sprout the benefits of wind chimes and crystals.
This article is a good place to start: 9 ways menopause affects your body and what to do about them.
Once you’ve read the internet from cover to cover, it’s worth seeing a professional. Your doctor can go through your symptoms and provide advice on treatment options. Take our Symptom Checklist with you. And if you’re not happy with your doctor, find a new one. You might also like to check out our advice on how to talk to your doctor about menopause. The onset of menopause may cause or coincide with feelings of depression and anxiety. You may also be affected by the realisation that your fertility is ending. Talk to your doctor about your mental health, as you may benefit from counseling or other interventions.
Menopause can be a great bonding experience for women of all ages. It’s an eye-opener for younger women, and a relatable life stage for most women on the other side of 50. Your friends can provide social and emotional support, even if it’s simply catching up to see a movie or going for a walk. And if you’re still not convinced, turn to the research – a study of postmenopausal women showed that their quality of life was better if they had a good social support network.1 Here are some tips for building a social network during menopause.
The change in your hormones means you may experience symptoms that impact the people close to you, such as fluctuating moods and a diminished sex drive. Talk to your partner about what’s happening to you and how you feel, so that he or she can understand. You may need to put sex on the backburner for a while and look at other ways to stay close. Check out our advice on libido and sex, and how your partner can support you.
Your kids might also wonder what’s going on, so help them understand that it’s you, not them. Your hormones are changing and this is impacting your mood. Teenagers particularly, may relate to this.
There are medications, complementary therapies, and lifestyle choices that can help you feel better during menopause. Boosting your hormones through menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) can treat a range of symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. There’s evidence that exercise and a menopause diet can help ease symptoms, too. Switch on your inner yogi, as relaxation has been shown to have benefits during menopause. Here’s our list of 7 ways to treat menopause.
As you reach menopause, you may feel exhausted, not just by the symptoms but by life itself. As writer Kerri Sackville says: “I have been through a lot in my first 50 years. I’ve been divorced, I’ve been bereaved, I’ve had three children, I’ve changed careers. I’ve battled anxiety, I’ve struggled with health issues, and I’ve worked my butt off to look after my kids.”
Use this life stage as a wake-up call to prioritise your own needs. This means different things to different people. For Kerri, it means being herself, forgiving herself, and feeling the full force of her emotions. Kerri’s talks about her approach to self-care at age 50 here. The expression ‘be kind to yourself’, is becoming something of a cliché for a good reason. If you’ve devoted years to the needs of others, it’s time to pause and look after yourself.
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1. Sharifirad, G., Hasanzadeh, A., Moodi, M., Mostafavi, F. and Norozi, E. (2013). Factors
affecting quality of life in postmenopausal women, Isfahan, 2011. Journal of Education and
Health Promotion, 2(1), p.58.