Menopause Madness

Friday, October 18, 2019

This post is made possible with support from AARP's Disrupt Aging.  All opinions are my own.

Menopause hit late for me.  I sailed through my early and mid 50's feeling unscathed by the midlife monster.  I felt fine---super good as a matter of fact! Bring on menopause, I can take it! 

And then I hit 56 and all hell broke loose.  

It started with irregular periods. I went six months without one, then they started up again. This lasted for two years warranting several biopsies and lots of trips to the doctor.  Every time I threw the tampons in the trash, back to CVS I went to buy more. 

One day at the supermarket my body officially became a furnace.  I was so hot that I had to leave my groceries in the cart and head to the car for a blast of air conditioning.  And this was in the middle of winter!

Then came the night sweats. They're the worst.  I'm up every night alternatively sweating and freezing.  We keep our bedroom at 60 degrees throughout the year and I have a fan stationed next to my bed for hot flash emergencies.  Warm pjs and heavy blankets are my worst enemy. I wake up constantly tossing and turning like a mad woman desperately seeking a small patch of cold sheets to cool me off. Covers on...covers off. Poor Richard sleeps in a state of deep refrigeration combined with turmoil.

And let's not forget hair loss. One day at the salon, I was shocked to see my hairline receding! I have always had extremely thick hair, but now it's thinning due to hormonal changes. My stylist reassured me that it's a normal part of menopause.  Great!

Of course there are other changes too, like dry skin and hair (dry everything), brain fog, brown spots on my face and body, and an extra sprinkling of wrinkles, droopiness and lines-- just for good luck.

Yes menopause is a part of life but let's be honest, it's not an easy transition.  There are so many changes that occur all at once--it's scary and stressful, physically and emotionally.

At age 57 (ok almost 58), I've come to accept the inevitable, but I'm fighting hard to not let menopause win out.  I try to stay positive, tap into humor, eat healthy, exercise and try every anti-aging product that promises results. 

Belly laughs with my good friend Rosie is the BEST!

So yes, menopause can seem like an uphill battle, but there are also some benefits to this stage of life...
  • I no longer have to shave my legs as often (thank you hair thinning).  
  • No periods make life a heck of a lot easier and cheaper!  The money that I used to spend on pads and tampons, now earns me an extra mani!
  • No more worrying about birth control or getting pregnant...woohoo!
  • It takes me less time to blow-dry my hair because I have less of it.  
  • I've mastered the art of dressing stylishly in layers.
  • I know how to fold a mean paper fan.
  • I speak my mind more.  Don't mess with a menopausal woman!
  • I try new things.  I started a non-profit called Uncommon Threads in my mid 50's!
  • And the most important benefit of menopause is the open and honest dialogue I can have with my friends.  We laugh, cry, and bond over our crazy life changes.  There's a type of menopausal sisterhood hat comes with the territory.
So ladies, we're in this together.  Let's talk about it (why keep a normal part of life a secret?), laugh, and try to come up with ways to stay sane during the upheaval.   Here are some things that have worked for me...
  • Get a small fan to cool you off at night.  
  • Keep ice water on your bedside table--sipping something cold can help with hot flashes.  This bottle will keep your water cold all night.
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol. Sorry, this is a time in your life you'll want more not less. However both can make hot flashes worse.  My new favorite "drink" is organic pomegranate juice in a pretty wine glass (closest thing without the alcohol).
  • Eat as healthy as you can and reduce your sugar intake.  These sugar-free cookies have become my daily treat. They're SO good!
  • Exercise--even if it's just a walk!
  • Dress in layers so you can peel them off when you need to.  I tend to wear sleeveless tops with a jacket or cardigan.
  • If painful intercourse is an issue for you, talk with your gynecologist.  There are lots of ways to make this better!
  • Finally, find your tribe of menopausal sister for support

And check out Disrupt Aging, a place to have a conversation about getting older.  Because the more we share, the less we fear.

XO Susan

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