Menopause signifies the permanent cessation of ovarian function and the end of a woman’s reproductive potential. A universal experience in women’s aging, it is the culmination of some 50 years of reproductive aging—a process that unfolds as a continuum from birth through ovarian senescence to the menopausal transition and the post menopause. The menopausal transition is known to play a major role in the etiology of many symptoms common in middle age and may contribute to chronic conditions and disorders of aging such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. Menopause transition is a time of great change, inspiration and reflection and can also be an inherent difficult period, to some women and to some can be a newfound sense of experience and maybe personal growth. It is definitely a time of choice and about finding out what women really want and shape the remaining chapters in a her life.
A quote so aptly describing Menopause – ‘’it is the adolescence of older age but better than adolescence of youth because menopausal women have confidence and experience.”
Our attitudes will play an important impact on our choices of behaviors such as positives thoughts and the so many negative myths and beliefs we hear from our elder fellow women. There are lot of body changing taking place during the menopause transition such as vaginal atrophy, due to decreased estrogen and testosterone levels, frequent urinary infections, decreased libido, lessening of bone structure due to calcium diffusion from the bones, thus a risk to osteoporosis, insomnia, fatigue, and joint pain and a susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases.
A taboo subject is on sexual activity during the menopause transition. Sexual function is an important component of women’s lives. It has been reported that low sexual function adversely affects women’s quality of life and interpersonal relationships. Sexual function in women is determined by multiple aspects, including biological, medical, and psychological factors. It is associated with socio-demographic and also behavioral characteristics of women, such as degree of education and physical activity. One’s relationship with a partner and the length of marriage has a great impact on sexual function.
Sexual function declines with ageing and throughout the menopausal transition in middle-aged women. It is further affected by reduced levels of estrogen and androgen during menopausal transition and ageing, respectively. The decrease in levels of estrogen and androgen may influence sexual desire, and this decrease is also associated with vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy may lead to unpleasant sexual experiences due to vaginal dryness and dyspareunia in middle-aged women, further adding to a disruption in the intimacy-based sexual response cycle.
Women also experience cognitive changes and depression during menopause in not uncommon.
The following tips can help you transform your menopause experience.
Watch Your Thought
There is growing evidence that the absence of positive thoughts has a greater negative impact on our health and well-being than does the presence of negative ones. One way to cultivate positive thoughts and emotions is to keep an “appreciation journal.”
“Appreciating and enjoying a beautiful spring day because it’s beautiful.”
Laughter brings us closer to people, moves us into more positive mind-sets, can stimulate our immune system, enhance our learning and memory, and help us cope better with the stressors in our lives. Laughter is a great menopause help.
Make Time for Yourself
Exercise, eat right, and incorporate relaxation techniques into your day. This practice moves you out of the stress response, which is harmful to our health. Eliciting a “relaxation response” increases muscle relaxation, quiets the mind, promotes positive emotions, learning, concentration, creativity, and can reduce such symptoms as hot flashes, insomnia, post menstrual syndrome, and pain. When women actually make themselves a priority (even 15 minutes a day), dramatic changes can occur.
“The fundamentally transformative thing is discovering that I’m worth that time. I take yoga class once a week. The whole thing has really snowballed into taking over my own post-child life for myself.”
“It’s very empowering to learn what your triggers are and to be able to change your lifestyle so that you feel good. And, it’s not a sacrifice. You’re really giving yourself a gift.”
Social support is key to health and can even help you live longer. It is one of the first pieces of advice women share.
“At this stage, women need other women — friends with a rich life experience and wisdom to share.”
“I measure my success in terms of the richness and closeness of my connections with good people.”
Stay in the Moment
Try to be mindful (aware and present) of each and every moment of your life. This practice prevents you from worrying about the future (often fraught with anxiety) or dwelling on the past (often tinged with regret).
By combining positive thoughts, a healthy lifestyle, and relaxation techniques, many women are changing the menopause experience.
“I feel that I’ve acquired, and taken to heart, tools and techniques that fortify me when I feel my body is a stranger. I can quiet it with deep breathing and meditation. I have techniques to help me sleep better. I am kinder to myself. More empathetic to others. I have new thoughts and behaviors that help me change my mood before I feel at the mercy of the blues. I walk daily (after years of detesting exercise). I feel my energy rebuilt and my mood lifted with exercise. I have the new power to be positive.”
“I am more aware than ever of my own ability, and responsibility, to change the course of my life, and to choose happiness, joy, and peace, rather than waiting for someone else, or fate, to deliver it.”
“If this is in fact ‘midlife,’ I have another half ahead. And that’s a lot of time to use the wisdom gained in the first half to make the second half richer and more joyful.”
Women should empower themselves with information about their body and ways on how to look after themselves.Stay healthy and watch your diet and yourself.
“Life is what I make it for myself and no matter what the externals, at the end of the day by attitude and outlook I decide whether the glass is half full or half empty.
Written by: Arifa Turabali (MPKA, HSM, MPH)
(A practicing Pharmacist/Health system manager in private practice)