Technically, this term refers to the cessation of menstruation as a result of decreased estrogen production but it actually covers a sometimes quite lengthy period of time know as the peri-menopausal period usually between the ages of 45 -55, where menstruation becomes irregular and the production of female sex hormones goes through periodic fluctuations in intensity and quality. The result can be a decade or more of unsettling physiological and psychological changes that can leave a women feeling unplugged, turned off, and out of touch.
Many of the uncomfortable changes seen in our bodies will reflect past and current states of health. During the peri-menopausal period the body is undergoing immense changes which can alter its normal balance. Some of the more noticeable changes are in the skin as a lack of estrogen causes the skin to thin and lose its elasticity.
Other uncomfortable and disturbing symptoms can be night sweats that disturb sleep, lack of sex drive, weight gain, headaches, depression, and the most disturbing symptoms of all increased risk of coronary artery disease and osteoporosis. And it all comes at a time when we may be at the top of our careers either in or out of the home. Such a deal if you don't laugh you'll probably cry.
If you're reaching that magical age now's not the time to throw in the towel. Many women emerge on the other side of menopause with a new and balanced sense of purpose with energy to spare.
Some women choose to use natural herbal remedies combined with diet and nutritional supplements to support their changing needs, others choose to use hormone replacement therapy or HRT. The most important thing is not to let your symptoms paralyze you and do nothing. One of my favorite books on the subject of menopause is also an insightful look at the baby boomer generation, The Silent Passage by Gail Sheehey, available in the Galesburg Public Library.
Next week a look at natural versus HRT. Stay tuned; till next time, Rebecca.