For World Menopause Day I thought I’d send a shout-out to all the girls out there who’ve just started to experience those lovely hormone changes and to all the women, no matter what age, who’ve gone from puberty to menses to perimenopause and beyond.
I GET YOU. I HEAR YOU. I AM YOU.
The Joy of Menses?
To my next-in-line Menses…
Welcome this phase in life. Throw a party every time your friend, the Red Devil arrives.
When you’re running to the drug store for some tampons, grab yourself a bottle of wine while you’re at it! Throw on a nice comfy sweater and wrap yourself in one of those cozy warm blankets, and then crash in front of the TV and watch those cheesy romantic comedies. I know some of you will want to, even if the moody Red Devil has possessed your body. Yes, I get it, you’ve got cramps and you’re bloated during this time, but lucky for you, this only lasts during PMS.
Soon, the time will come when you’ll hate that romantic comedy full of the characters always madly in love by the end of the story. A nice Happily Ever After, tied up in a pretty little bow. And when your menses goes away, you won’t be able to even look at someone wearing a sweater and if that cozy warm blanket even brushes your leg on the couch, you’ll turn into a ball of fire.
Soon enough those one-a-month Red Devil visits will be an everyday occurrence, and you’ll start to think, the Red Devil didn’t leave, I have become the Red Devil.
But…I digress…like I said…enjoy your menses! It’s a wonderful, beautiful time in your life where you are just beginning to bloom.
Transitioning To Perimenopause
To my Perimenopause friends…
Hang in there. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re losing control. You know what I’m talking about, right?
You have an-outer-body experience where the real you watches the peri-you scream at your kids, husband or significant other, one minute and falls into a blubbering mess the next.
Know that one day those hot flashes will subside, so no more hanging your head out the window in below zero weather or keeping the A/C on in the wintertime. Yes, it all calms down over time. Promise.
What to Expect from Menopause
And, to my Menopause women…
At 54, I’m walking the tightrope between menopause and post-menopause.
I still get hot flashes every so often, but they are nothing compared to what they once were. At one time, my hot flashes were so intense that I would strip the layers down to a tank and not care where I was. I could’ve been in front of the Pope himself, and still, I’d take it all off.
The only thing I wanted—I needed—was to put the fire out that was burning inside. Every sliver of clothing would be drenched from sweat. And, what happens to sweat when it sits on the body? It tangos with the bacteria on your skin and releases bad odor. No amount of expensive perfume will cover this up.
This is why one of the first products I worked on was our Cool Flash—a roll-on cooling product that instantly cools you down (currently working on new packaging for this so for those customers who love this product, it will be coming again soon!).
There’s a lot that comes along with the perimenopause and menopause stage of life for women. We deal with an onset of migraines, anxiety, depression, weight gain, brain fog, insomnia, anger and so on.
Enjoying The Changing Seasons of Womanhood
My 20's was like the blurred scene you see when you're peering out the window of that fast train you're riding. Women like me have gone through her 40’s—maybe she even loved her 40’s like I did. I felt beautiful in my 40’s—even more so than I did in my 20’s and 30’s. So, if you’re in this stage—ENJOY every minute!
The way I felt in my 40's was in stark contrast to the way I felt when I turned 30. I celebrated a little too much, so much so that my husband pulled me out of the bushes in the front of our house after a night out with friends (someone pushed me—I swear!).
I told myself and others that I was "depressed" about turning the BIG 3-0. Looking back, I wasn’t depressed, I was just having a difficult time transitioning into a new phase of life.
My 30’s were wonderful. It’s when I reached goals that I never thought possible when I was a young awkward kid with learning disabilities. And my 30’s was when all four of my children were little and lived with me, under the same roof. It was when I'd look forward to Friday nights, just so we all could play family games and watch movies together, all curled up on the couch.
So by the time I reached 50, I just knew I was ready to take this decade on! For my 50th birthday I even celebrated by going to a rock concert (and I was even invited up on the stage😉). I even checked off something on my bucket list and rode a mechanical bull. I thought, “I got this!” Nothing can knock me off my saddle!
But, unlike my 40’s, the beginning of my 50’s was rocky. I was not prepared for what was to come.
Look Back at All You've Accomplished
As you approach your 50’s, your estrogen takes its slippery slide down. You just need to make sure you don’t go with it. When you hit this phase of your life, you’ve been through too much and it doesn’t make sense to throw in the towel now.
Think about what you’ve accomplished in your life. What are you most proud of? For me, it’s my kids. When I look at how close they are to each other, I think, I did something right. I know my time and energy was spent well on them.
And, speaking of time and energy—guard this in your 50’s. You’ve earned it and you deserve it. Spend your time and energy on the things you most care about—especially YOU.
Take time to take care of yourself with regular visits to your doctor and annual tests, like your mammogram. My guess is you’ve spent all these years working and building up your career or raising your kids or both! Now is the time you can relax a bit and think about you.
How to Manage Your Hormones
I’m here to tell you that even though it seems like the world, as you knew it, is unfamiliar territory and you’re having trouble navigating the rockiness, there are lots that you can do to manage your hormones.
If you don’t want to go on hormone therapy, don’t. If you think it’s the best for you, do it. If you don’t trust your doctor to have these conversations with, find a new one.
My doctor has been with me every step of the way and I am so grateful that there are still good health care professionals like her in this world. She allows me to make the decisions.
No one knows your body better than you. There are so many options out there, just find what’s right for you. Whatever you decide, I’m sending lots of love and brave thoughts to all the women reading this.
With that, here are 4 tips I’ve found useful to help you through menopause:
Tip #1: Family.
Not everyone has a strong family core.
I know my mother went through menopause with an abusive husband and mega stress in her life, so she’s my hero for this.
My situation is different. At this stage of my life, I am blessed beyond a thousand stars to have a supportive family unit.
It wasn’t just a natural thing. We worked on it with honesty, openness, humility, and humor.
Putting work into my relationships with my husband, children, mother, siblings, and others is one of my biggest accomplishments. I’d include my grandchildren in this, but they’re not work in my eyes. They are my Prozac.
Tip # 2: Friends.
I cannot express how important it is for women to have other supportive women in their lives.
Because biologically we connect on the deepest level. Most of us get periods until we don’t. All of us will go through hormonal changes.
Having women in your life who you can trust—someone who can offer a shoulder to cry on with no judgement; a friend to laugh with; to vent to; to check out with so that you can pull up your “big girl pants” and tackle that next step in life, is priceless.
I’m blessed with many friends, all of whom I adore. I have a range of friends, who are in different places in their professional careers and personal lives. Some of my friends differ politically, but somehow, even when it has gotten crazy, we haven't allowed our views to stand in the way of our friendships. Maybe it’s because our children attended school together and we have gone through various life events that have been some of the highest and unfortunately, the lowest times of our lives.
All I know is, other women supporting other women, no matter what, is a healthy environment to be in.
Tip #3: Eat right.
Yes, I know. This one is a difficult one to manage.
I’m not sure how you are, but when I get stressed, I am known in my household to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, only to eat half the dough. Of course, I question my sanity as I am immediately attacked by hot flashes and mood swings after eating such high sugar content.
When I eat healthy, I have fewer hot flashes and mood swings. Diet effects the way you feel, especially during the hormone changes. I try to focus on those foods that are high in isoflavones (soybeans, peanuts/nuts, etc.) and stay away from sugar.
Choosing a diet high in isoflavones could offer a better outlook on life (2,3). Studies are not sure if this is because it lowers the blood pressure or because isoflavones contain small amounts of plant estrogen, but whatever the reason, it works for me.
I also try my best to avoid too much salt since it raises your blood pressure, which is not only unhealthy, it will also bring on hot flashes and mood swings. I also make sure to get enough calcium and Vitamin D in my diet. If not, I’ll turn to supplements.
Tip #4: Exercise.
It’s not going away—the importance of exercising is here to stay.
I’m from the Jane Fonda and fitness club days—the leotard and bright-colored spandex era, where we jumped, crunched, and stretched in full hair and makeup.
Today, I tend to hit the treadmill, elliptical and yoga mat in comfy workout clothing sans makeup and hair hardly brushed. I keep my yoga mat in my office so that I can stop and complete a 20-30min exercise break, just to get my brain going.
It’s super important to exercise at any age, but especially when a woman reaches her perimenopausal years. Not only are you losing collagen quickly you are also losing muscle mass and bone density. And, to throw another stone at us, you gain weight quicker during menopause.
Weight gain can cause high blood pressure, which, again, in turn causes more hot flashes and mood swings. Gaining weight could also cause real health issues, like raising our risk of cancer.
Exercising can help with weight control, bone mass, muscle strength, mood, hot flashes, and back pain. People who are physically fit will have an increase in bone mass and muscle strength. They will control their weight, have fewer hot flashes, and have a better outlook on life (1,4).
When I say “physically fit” it doesn’t mean you need to be skinny, instead it means healthy.
There are programs out there that are “women only” and I think this is a great way to connect with other women. But, if your schedule is anything like mine, I don’t have the time to pack up and go to the gym. Instead, I workout at home.
I have found some great free exercising routines through YouTube. My favorite, go-to YouTuber is a woman from Germany who is a certified fitness trainer. Her YouTube channel is growingannas and she has free workout plans, both low and high impact, that you can follow along to from home. You don’t need any equipment for many of her routines, so you can do the routine practically anywhere.
Whatever you choose, do what's right for you.
Wishing you all a healthful (menes, perimenopause, or menopause) season,
Founder and CEO of Healthful Seasons
- Bondarev, Dmitriy MSc1; Sipilä, Sarianna PhD1; Finni, Taija PhD2; Kujala, Urho M. PhD3; Aukee, Pauliina PhD4; Laakkonen, Eija K. PhD1; Kovanen, Vuokko PhD1; Kokko, Katja PhD1The role of physical activity in the link between menopausal status and mental well-being, Menopause: April 2020 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 398-409 doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001490
- Gacek, Maria. “Soy and legume seeds as sources of isoflavones: selected individual determinants of their consumption in a group of perimenopausal women.” Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review 13,1 (2014): 27-31. doi:10.5114/pm.2014.41081
- Mitsuru Fukuda, Maki Kobayashi, Yoshitaka Honda, Chapter 6 - Functional Components and Health Benefits of Fermented Soymilk, Editor(s): Alexandru Mihai Grumezescu, Alina Maria Holban, In Handbook of Food Bioengineering, Soft Chemistry and Food Fermentation, Academic Press, 2017, Pages 145-178, ISBN 9780128114124,https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811412-4.00006-0. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128114124000060)
- Mishra, Nalini et al. “Exercise beyond menopause: Dos and Don'ts.” Journal of mid-life health 2,2 (2011): 51-6. doi:10.4103/0976-7800.92524