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Hope Amidst the Doom & Gloom of Menopause

Updated: Apr 26

pink flowers with a pink background
Photo credit: Micheile Henderson, Unsplash

The online narrative about menopause is heavy

Maybe it is because of who I follow, but I see more and more information about menopause on social media every day. Much of it is informative, some of it is accurate, but very little (if any) is positive. If you're a woman with a period who has yet to go through this phase of life, it can fill you with dread for what lies ahead.

Mid-life can be challenging

It's true this phase of life (our 40s & 50s) can be overwhelming. Our once youthful bodies are changing and we are fighting our hormones and googling symptoms until we’ve diagnosed ourselves with everything from cancer to crazy. Our parents are aging. We are beginning to see them struggle and, maybe for the first time, seeing them as older. We are deep enough in our careers that our plates are full and our responsibilities are many. Our marriages are aging and strengthening or aging and falling apart. Our babies are growing and our sentimental hearts grieve the loss of their smallness and our family togetherness as they find their own paths. Our now teenage children may struggle in school or with friendships. Our own friendships are changing as we evolve.

Cultivating hope

In spite of all of this, I want to share a message of HOPE for what this next phase of life can be. I am an eternal optimist but also a post-menopausal woman who has lived through this change and I know this: if you are intentional about cultivating hope it will never leave you.

Here are some things I've learned going through menopause:

  1. Perimenopause will be different for every single person who goes through it. Don't expect the worst of what happens for others to be the same for you. Stay grounded in your own experience.

  2. You may have (peri)menopause symptoms and you may not. You may have them for a time but not forever. They may change as you move through this transition. You won't know until you know, but you are absolutely not doomed from this point forward to be out of shape, foggy-headed, or unhappy.

  3. The levels of your hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc.) affect you less in terms of symptoms than the FLUCTUATION of the levels of those hormones. This means that post-menopause will likely be easier on you than the moving target that is perimenopause.

  4. The loss of estrogen does mean we need to pay closer attention to maintaining healthy bone density, preserving muscle mass, and knowing our numbers for heart health. This does NOT mean that problems here are inevitable without HRT!

  5. Speaking of HRT, this is a very personal choice for everyone and it is not an easy one to make. You may feel absolutely fine without it or you may need some help with symptoms or other concerns. Work with your doctor, trust yourself, don't let the internet decide this for you.

  6. You ARE aging- we all are. Don't ruminate on what you're losing. Instead, be intentional about building a strong, healthy body for the older woman you are becoming. It is true that strength comes from weathering hard things, but resilience can be cultivated in positive ways too. Take good care of the new and next you.

  7. You will need to pay a little more attention to what you are eating and drinking. Getting enough protein, drastically reducing (or eliminating) alcohol, and eating the right amount of food to fuel your body and preserve bone density and muscle tissue is very important. This is not "diet culture" talking (ignore anyone who says that!), this is learning to properly fuel your body so you can feel how you want to feel. Think about extending your "health span" instead of just your lifespan so you can comfortably live the life you desire deep into old age.

  8. Sleep may become a challenge for the first time. You will need to be intentional about sleep hygiene and it will be immensely helpful to recognize your daily experience of stress and learn to regulate your nervous system so things don't snowball into a restless night.

  9. You will need to be really honest with yourself about how the things that you have always done are making you feel now. Alcohol and sugary treats are good things to reflect on here.

  10. Get in touch with what truly serves you well and do those things regularly. Don't overcomplicate things with a lengthy "morning routine" or force things on yourself that add more stress by creating a long to-do list. Build your toolkit with what works for you and use it when you need support or loving care during tougher times. Don't forget to keep a little hope in that kit- there is a big, bright light beyond every hard time.

  11. Tread lightly with supplements. There are so many things that are touted to help with menopause symptoms and your milage will absolutely vary. The best case is you will find something that works for a specific and bothersome symptom. The worst case is that you take something that makes things worse or causes more harm than good. Know what you're taking and how it will affect you and interact with other things. Avoid blends of ingredients and don't try more than one thing at a time- you want to know exactly what ingredients you are responding to (positively or negatively).

  12. Beyond crossword puzzles and sudoku, trying new things is a wonderful way to maintain brain health. Physical activities (especially in nature!) can improve mood, health, and social connections. Consider joining a hiking group (look for these on Facebook), trying a new sport (maybe pickleball? surfing? Search for Surfer Susie on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube if you want to see a septuagenarian dropping f-bombs but CLEARLY feeling the "stoke" when she's out there surfing- laughter is good for you too 🤣 ).

This is the end of something big but it is also the beginning of what's next and that is FULL of potential. Be intentional about supporting yourself through the harder times and cultivating hope. Sometimes the things we are forced to let go of create a feeling of freedom we could not have imagined. xo


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