There are certain things that really help you mark time. It’s easy for me to forget how long it’s been since I was a student or a newlywed, or a brand new mom. But then you get glimpses of how oh so long it’s been.
Yesterday I attended a graduation party. Today I will attend a baby shower. The graduate and the expectant mom were the ages of my kids are now the first time the Pastor and I watched them while their parents were away. Which means I’m now the age their parents were back then. And I’m now the person who can’t use snapchat and has to ask what certain words mean. So the moral of the story is, well, more time has passed than I’d like to admit. (Insert grandma emoji.)
One of the biggest issues I discuss in my patients who have the benefit of the tincture of time is menopause. By definition, menopause is the permanent cessation of the menstrual period. Get it? Men-opause. It usually occurs around age 51 and the time just before menopause is referred to the menopausal transition. As has been so famously penned, the menstral cycle “does not go gentle into that good night.” The menopause transition can be torturous for some. Up to 80% of women experience bothersome symptoms of menopause. One of the most common is what is known as the hot flush. I haven’t been through menopause but I have been pregnant and had some similar hot flushing experiences. Imagine you are sitting at work and someone just moves the surface of the sun about 2 feet from your head. Your head, your face, your neck feels like you have entered the portal to hell for about 3 minutes. They can happen daily and often times women experience hot flushes for 3 or more years. Additionally, as estrogen declines women can experience severe symptoms of vaginal atrophy. (Sorry friends, you know a gynecologist is going to write the word vagina in her blog at some point right?) The point is that menopause isn’t just the joyful absence of a monthly cycle, it is a transition into a new phase of life that can be, well, painful.
Fear not my faithful reader. If you have made it this far I have good news for you. The symptoms associated with the menopausal transition can be managed. Your doctor can offer you different types of medication along with non-prescription therapy to alleviate your symptoms. We will also talk to you about what to expect during and after the transition and how best to care for your body. For example, women in menopause are at increased risk for osteoporosis and associated complications so we might gently remind you to take your calcium and vitamin D and get your weight bearing exercise done.
I have big plans for the last stages of my life. Like just telling everyone what I think all the time. I know some of you are thinking…don’t you do that already? But really, just let all the thoughts come out. Pretty sure there is an age at which I can get away with that. The point is that you are not alone in your transition. Ladies, don’t let the menopausal transition get in the way of your big plans. See your favorite gynecologist. Talk about your symptoms. Listen to what they have to say. And then get on with your big plans.
(photo credit to the twitter, the emojis and the someecards who are always full of delightful things)