The thought of menopause usually brings to mind an array of unwelcome emotions, including fear and symptoms ranging from hot flushes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, thinning hair, sleep disturbances, and feeling old before our time. The list is long and often dreaded by women as they approach midlife. But menopause can have a positive impact on your life as well; for one thing, not all physical changes caused by reduced female hormone levels are negative. For another, many of the emotional and social changes can be energising.
In many ways, menopause can be a welcome change. Even a change for the better…
No More Periods
Menopause marks the end of the menstrual cycle, which is a cause for celebration in itself for many women. It means no more fussing with tampons or pads, no more worry about leakage, and no more menstrual cramping. And after the perimenopausal years, when periods often become irregular and bleeding may be heavy, it puts an end to the guessing game of when your period will start or stop.
Goodbye to PMS
In the week or two before your period, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause a host of physical and emotional symptoms, ranging from breast tenderness and headache pain to food cravings and irritability. PMS is ubiquitous: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, at least 85 per cent of all menstruating women experience one symptom or more each month. In perimenopause, PMS can temporarily worsen as oestrogen levels rise and fall. All the better, then, to have PMS disappear after menopause.
Sex Without Pregnancy Worries
Women in menopause can enjoy sex without having to think about a possible pregnancy. This change makes a big difference; some women even find that, because they no longer have to worry about the unanticipated outcome of sex, they can enjoy it more once they reach menopause.
The End of Hormonal Headaches
Women are affected by migraines three times more often than men, according to the National Headache Foundation. About 70 per cent of these women have menstrual migraines, headaches that coincide with ovulation and menstruation. Like other migraines, these headaches cause throbbing pain on one side of the head, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and light- or sound sensitivity. In a normal menstrual cycle, fluctuating levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone can trigger menstrual migraines. But after menopause, levels of oestrogen and progesterone fall, and often the number of hormonal headaches declines too.
A Chance to Take Stock
Menopause is a natural time for women to take stock of their lives. Many decide to take a fresh look at their relationships, their professions, the ways they're caring for their health, and the ways they want to expend their energy. They want to decide if they're headed in the direction they want to go, both professionally and personally, and whether the way they're spending their time is meaningful to them.
It's not uncommon for postmenopausal women to report feeling empowered, partly because of the biological changes in menopause and partly because of the point in life at which menopause occurs. Your children are growing older at this time, and you are freed to pursue your professional and personal ambitions. After 50-plus years of life experience, including the ups and downs of relationships, child-rearing, and careers, women are more likely to go after what they want with a greater sense of confidence that they can handle whatever comes their way.
A Time to Take Risks
You still potentially have the second half of your life to live at menopause. It's time to feel energised to do something new. This is a message that women in menopause are primed to hear because midlife is when women are inclined to take more chances. Some switch careers, perhaps turning a hobby into a business. Others try online dating or other adventurous pursuits like mountain climbing or figure skating. If there's something you've been putting on hold, there's no time like the present to taste what life has to offer.
Focus on Caring for Yourself
With children grown or on their way to independence and a career that's well established, women in menopause have more time to take care of themselves. Many women in menopause are receptive to making changes that will maintain or improve their health. These changes can start with regular health check-ups and routine health screenings, such as mammograms, bone density scans and Pap tests. You can also put your best foot forward by eating a healthy diet that's low in fat, high in fruits and vegetables, including foods rich in naturally occurring oestrogen, such as foods containing soy and flaxseed. Engage in regular physical activity — anything from walking, biking, dancing to your favourite music, gardening and housework counts. And finally, it's essential to take time out and reduce stress; meditation, relaxation techniques, or tai chi can help.
It's time to future-proof your health – ensuring that you are as healthy as possible to enjoy life post-menopause. By following the advice in my latest book, ‘Manage Your Menopause Naturally’, you can create the good habits needed to have a healthy life.
You will also find a self-help library a free Midlife Refuel Club. You are most welcome to join my community.
Are you feeling demotivated?
Have you lost your mojo?
Are you feeling tired and achy or old before your time?
Are you scared because you can't think straight or lose track of what you were saying mid sentence?
Have you put so much weight on and your clothes are tight?