Thanks to advancements in modern medicine, more and more women have the honor of experiencing menopause first hand. Menopause marks the end of a woman’s childbearing age, as the production of estrogen and progestin drops dramatically and eggs are no longer released. During this time women can experience a wide range of symptoms, including hot flashes, depression and sleep deprivation.
The average age a woman goes through menopause is 50, which means that some women may experience it as early as 40 or as late as 60 years old. Early menopause can also be triggered by chemotherapy, smoking, illness, and a number of other factors. In some women, symptoms are surprisingly severe and can be treated with hormone replacement therapy.
So physically, menopause sucks. We get it. It’s annoying and a downer and quite frankly just interferes with what would otherwise be a great time in our lives. Sometimes it makes us feel old or masculine and we wonder whether we’ll ever get through to the other side to enjoy a normal sex life again.
We do look forward to finally getting off the hook with the whole period thing, though. No more tampons or debilitating cramps? Cool. Spotting and dealing with the hassles of an irregular cycle for a few months? Not so cool. It’s not that we fear the end of our reproductive cycle; we simply fear the transition. We want to talk to others about what we’re going through, but we also don’t really want them to know, and we certainly don't want to be embarrassed by divulging personal information.
Some of us find comfort in the fact that men do go through a graduated form of menopause. While testosterone levels don’t drop dramatically overnight, there is information to show that as men get older the production of testosterone slows. Many men suffer from low libido, depression, and fatigue as they get older and while this hasn’t definitively been linked to low testosterone levels, male hormone replacement therapy has been proven to treat these symptoms.
Arguably, the best thing about menopause is that after you’ve been through the change you no longer have to worry about pregnancy, babies, and birth control. Can you imagine being able to have sex like a man – that is, being intimate with the knowledge that there’s absolutely no possible way it can end in you carrying a baby for nine months? It’s a rush that many women find empowering and, dare I say it, sexy! Call it an open window in what might otherwise be a dark and lonely room.
If you’re having problems with vaginal dryness after menopause, then lube can be your best friend. Just make it a part of your regular bedroom routine and you’ll be good to go. As for the other symptoms? Your primary physician would be a good place to start as well as the ear of a trusted friend.