As I get closer to the age of 50, there are some things that I am experiencing that my mother never warned me about. So it dawned on me that if my mom never got around to telling me about these things that perhaps some of you may be going through a bit of the same. So I thought it would be good to have a series on “What Your Mama May Not Have Told You About…”
When I was growing up, I always heard women talk about going through “the change,” or the medical term for it, menopause. It is the biological process that our bodies go through, and it marks the end of our menstrual cycle. For some women, this can happen as early as your 40s, but the average age for beginning menopause is 51. Some of the most common side effects that are often talked about or joked about when referring to menopause are hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain due to a slowed metabolism, vaginal dryness, and sleep problems. But something I’ve discovered is, some symptoms aren’t so stereotypical that you don’t hear anyone talk about. Some are physical, some are emotional, but all can have a debilitating effect, depending on the severity. Let’s talk about some of these symptoms that our mothers never really talked about but more than likely experienced at least
one of them:
- Memory Loss – This could be considered more of what we would call a “brain fart” today, but never the less, when you’re going through menopause, this happens quite often. It’s considered memory loss when you’re having trouble remembering even the smallest things like, the name of the person who sings your favorite song, or if you have more than one child, you may call them by two or three names of your other children until you get it right. If you’ve never experienced menopause, you may read this and say, “Oh! I do this all the time!” But for women going through “the change”, this happens more often than not.
- Your periods become irregular – If you are one of the blessed women to have normal regular periods, your world may soon be flipped upside down when you realize that “Aunt Flow” who has always been a reliable “family friend” now turns into an evasive foe. Some women consider the lack of a menstrual cycle a benefit of menopause; however, it is not as smooth as one would like to believe. It goes through a series of events before “Aunt Flow” takes her final bow. New PMS symptoms may occur such as cramping, moodiness, heavier flows, and longer cycle durations. Yes, it could get worse before it gets better. Menopause can make your cycle become unpredictable, meaning, you can’t easily plan for vacations anymore because you don’t know when your period is coming.
- Depression – As if we don’t already have enough to deal with from going through menopause, our hormones, especially estrogen, go through a roller-coaster battle and destination depression can sometimes feel like the final frontier. The depression could stem from a combination of not feeling physically well and the mental and emotional struggles that come with feeling like you’re transitioning into a new period of womanhood associated with so many negative things. Not only that, but deficient estrogen levels can contribute to feelings of depression as well. Menopause can be a very challenging time for women, and there are a few things that our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc., probably neglected to mention they suffered
However, you don’t necessarily have to suffer through this transition. Today there are treatments such as hormone therapy that you can discuss with your doctor. You can also do some things yourself to lessen the effects of menopause. These things include; eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, eating lots of fruit and veggies, and, most importantly, avoiding trigger foods like alcohol, caffeine, and high sugar. Doing these things and being kind to yourself can help you move into this new phase of your life more comfortably.