“The mother-daughter relationship is at the headwaters of every woman’s health,” writes menopause expert Dr. Christiane Northrup. “Our bodies and our beliefs about them were formed in the soil of our mother’s emotions, beliefs, and behaviors.” Wise thinking and so true!
I’ve tried to model an upbeat attitude about menopause for my daughters. At ages 30 and 33, they aren’t too interested in specifics, but I bet they will be someday. Here are some personal insights I hope will prove helpful for them and others as menopause approaches:
Weight Gain: I’d heard so much about menopausal weight gain that I figured it was a done deal. I let my weight creep up some. If I could to do it over again, I’d be more watchful, and I’d look for ways to foil my intense cravings. My best tip is one you’ve heard before: Have one bite of chocolate to satisfy the craving and then put the bag away. Happily, I’ve been able to take the weight off again, proving menopause doesn’t have to mean megapounds.
Periods: I had a few unnerving periods, including an incident women fondly call “flooding” and a period that lasted several weeks. When I thought my periods were finally over, I was surprised by one more eight months later. This happens to many women. Stay cool about the period stuff. It’s a happy relief when they’re gone forever.
Dryness: One day, I noticed pain in my pelvic floor. Two days later, even walking was difficult. I endured three scary and miserable weeks waiting for an appointment with a gynecologist. It turned out the only thing wrong with me was vaginal dryness, which was quickly cured with estrogen cream. If only I had known.
Self-doubt: About the time my periods became erratic, I began to doubt myself. The author of 20 books, I suddenly stopped writing, thinking I had no future as an author. I started writing up a storm again a year later. That’s when I connected my self-doubt to menopausal mood issues. Bottom line: If you start to doubt yourself, ask, “Could this be the changing hormones of menopause?”
Openness: I felt comfortable discussing the physical aspects of menopause with my husband but not the emotional ones. I wish I’d been more open. He knows how to lift my spirits, and he would have been glad to do so.
Treat Yourself: Be extra good to yourself during the menopausal years. Nurture your relationships, reach for happiness and success in your careers, and be generous with the world, but spoil yourself too. I like to remember what my mother always said, “When it doubt, shop or go out to lunch!”
A Good Doctor: In my late 40s, as perimenopause set in, I didn’t have a doctor I saw regularly. A good doctor would have forewarned me of issues such as vaginal dryness and helped me with my emotional ups and downs. By the time my girls reach menopause, doctors will have even better ways to help menopausal women. A doctor whom you trust is an important ally.
My age: “Menopause is strongly genetically linked, so you’re very likely to fall within a few years either way of the age your mother was at menopause,” WebMD reports. I had a late menopause at 55, meaning my daughters might too. If so, they have about 20 years to go. Enjoy your youth; it speeds by. But when you’re my age, you’ll love life too and continue to add your own brand of gusto to the world.
Reviewed March 28, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Mother Daughter Overview. Christiane Northrup, MD. Retrieved March 16, 2016. http://www.drnorthrup.com/mother-daughter-overview/
When Will You Reach Menopause? WebMD. Retrieved March 12, 2016. http://www.webmd.com/menopause/features/menopause-age-prediction