Let’s Talk Menopause (Finally)
Menopause: a condition that 100% of women will experience, yet so few of us feel comfortable talking about.
We all know something about menopause, but just like pregnancy or bungee jumping, you can’t really understand what it’s like to go through menopause until you have truly experienced it. Despite the fact that menopause is a naturally occurring life stage, it seems to be one of the most taboo topics out there. The perception is that it’s unpleasant (and let’s be honest, it can be very unpleasant) and, therefore, it’s not socially acceptable to discuss.
In a recent TedX talk by Shirley Weir, a self-proclaimed “Menopause Chick,” she states that 70% of hundreds of women she surveyed did not have anyone to talk to about menopause. Every woman, in the MiraKind community and beyond, will experience menopause at some point in her life (it’s a guarantee, ladies). We want to start a conversation here so that women can find support and community to discuss one of the most significant hormonal changes their bodies will undergo in their lifetime.
Let’s start with Perimenopause…
Did you know that women in their 40s (and some as early as their 30s) can begin experiencing changes in the years leading up to menopause? Lasting anywhere from a few months to several years, this life stage is known as perimenopause and is discussed perhaps even less frequently than menopause. During perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries begin to produce less estrogen, which can result in the symptoms and side effects typically associated with menopause–from hot flashes and night sweats to sleep deprivation and mood swings. During this time, a woman may experience heavy or inconsistent periods or spotting, and/or periods that last for a longer duration or arrive at shorter intervals.
…and move on to Menopause
The average age of menopause for women in the US is 51, but just like with fertility or the onset of grey hair, there is great variability between women as to when menopause sets in. During perimenopause, a gradual decrease in estrogen causes a woman’s period to become less consistent over many months or years and then boom(!): one day you find yourself landing in menopause—the day that marks 12 months from your last period.
So why does no one talk about it?
Despite the fact that up to 75% of women experience hot flashes and night sweats at some point during perimenopause, and another 66% after menopause, many women continue to feel uncomfortable talking about menopause. A quick scan of some sample symptoms may explain why:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep disturbance
- Decreased libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary incontinence
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness
Yuck! Not a single one of those sounds fun, and let’s not even talk about dealing with more than one at a time! BUT, every day, millions of women are struggling with these challenging symptoms in silence and this is the very reason we want to engage in a conversation around menopause.
At MiraKind, we believe that information is power and we as women are strong! Let’s start talking to each other about menopause, what it means for us personally, how we can tackle it head-on, and what decisions we can make in our own lives to manage menopause in a way that may actually have beneficial impacts on our health in the long run.
Have a question or story to share? Tell us in the comments below and let’s start the discussion here!