When I get to heaven, likely after some time in purgatory, there is one woman I can’t wait to meet. It isn’t Joan of Arc or Janis Joplin. It is the woman who so infuriated and provoked God, that the rest of us have had to pay. At some point, we will finally be done having calendars with big red dots on one day a month, done with cycles and cramping and childbirth, done with PMS and birth control. It should be a time to celebrate. Instead, it is a time to sweat. What is that all about? Someone has to have the answer for this. Why does the journey through the reproductive years have to be so tough? Isn’t it bad enough we have to change diapers, save for college and carpool? Once that is over, shouldn’t we finally get a break — at least before the grandkids are born?
1. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
2. The levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone decrease steadily as we get older. At some point, they almost completely drop off and menstruation stops. The gradual decline helps your body adjust, with symptoms usually worst in the first one to two years after your last menses. If the hormones drop suddenly, as is what happens after some medical treatments, symptoms will be more severe.
3. The decreasing hormones change everything. The irreversible changes in the reproductive system are that the vagina shortens, the walls become thinner and lose elasticity. Breasts become smaller (is that even possible) and lose tissue and fat — the only place you don’t want to lose fat. While these changes are normal and benign, it is critical to pay attention and to seek medical attention for anything that concerns you.
4. Temporary symptoms include hot flashes, racing heartbeat, night sweats, insomnia, headaches, irregular periods and mood swings. Symptoms that may also appear during menopause are decreased libido, forgetfulness and vaginal dryness.
5. In addition to all these uncomfortable symptoms, menopause also marks a time when the decline of other body systems speeds up. Heart, bone and colon health all take a nosedive. Despite the distraction of the atmosphere inexplicably heating up, it is an important time to take extra steps to care for yourself and your body. More on this tomorrow.
Really!?! I am going to start becoming a firm believer in reincarnation. At least then there is hope that I can come back as a man in my next life.