Some women consider menopause a death sentence, the “end” of fertility as they know it. But if we can reframe the conversation, menopause can mark a beautiful reawakening of something else, a newness that women can celebrate as opposed to shun.
Below, we rounded out five facts to understand about menopause, from the 48 symptoms (yes, you read that correctly, to the idea that it starts earlier than what some people think). Read and learn, friends.
Menopause is Not Sudden
Most people think menopause just hits you. Not the case. It’s a process, like anything else in your body, and doesn’t just happen at a set moment in time. During a woman’s 30’s and into her 40’s, her levels of estrogen and progesterone start to dip and that begins the process of perimenopause. Her periods might become less regular until they stop altogether.
Menopause will start at around 12 months after her last period, and generally between the ages of 40-58, with the average being 51 years old. Some medical treatments, like chemotherapy, can trigger menopause almost instantly. In some cases, it’s temporary, and menstruation starts again at some point after treatment finishes.
Perimenopause is Real
And it starts earlier than you might think. This stage before menopause can last anywhere between four to eight years. During perimenopause, the levels of estrogen and progesterone gradually decline. Your periods might grow less regular and symptoms (up to 48 of them, more on that below) might start to appear. If you’re concerned about perimenopause-related symptoms, check in with your medical provider.
Most Women Experience a Range of Symptoms
Menopause is about more than hot flashes. In fact, there are 48 symptoms associated with menopause, ranging from Hot flashes (aka sudden sensations of heat in the upper body) to night sweats, to lesser known symptoms like difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, reduced sex drive, mood swings, headaches, anxiety, balance issues and so many more.
You are Still Sexy, and Sexual
Some women fear that menopause will mean they’re less attractive or unable to enjoy sex since they’re no longer sexual creatures. But menopause it can give a new meaning to sex since you no longer need to think about a potential pregnancy. If you’re concerned about having sex during menopause, ask your healthcare provider about lubricants and other ways to reduce vaginal dryness. It’s also worth exploring new ways of creating sexual arousal with your partner. Creating an open dialogue can help you overcome this barrier.
Menopause is Actually a New Beginning
Your life doesn’t end when you go through menopause. It’s not a disease, and it does not mean your body is falling apart. As life expectancies increase and attitudes on aging continue to evolve, you can start to view menopause as a beginning, rather than an end. You are still you, and you’ve got plenty more to say and do in your long life, so enjoy it! And try not to stress menopause.