Although some women have difficulty coping with menopausal symptoms, the truth is that most women welcome this life transition and experience little or no problem with the bodily changes associated with menopause.
If the physical symptoms become a problem, women can deal with them in several ways. Some women will choose to use hormone replacement therapy to address the symptoms and reduce the risk of heart disease and Osteoporosis. Many women refuse to take drugs of any kind because of a personal lifestyle choice or because they are in a high-risk group for breast cancer.
There are many safe, natural alternatives for women who choose not to use the more traditional hormone replacement therapy. The most natural alternative is to get plenty of exercise, eat well-balanced healthy foods, take vitamin or food supplements, and effectively manage the emotional stress in your life. There are some excellent books available on natural remedies. Women are discovering that there are numerous healthy alternatives to prescription hormones but you must be prepared to do some research. You also have to be sensitive to your body and take some time to find the right combination that works for you.
The emotional symptoms of menopause are most often seen as being related to the changes in hormones and the loss of childbearing ability. Both of these theories say more about what men think about women than they say about what really happens to women during this time in their lives. Traditionally, whenever women get upset about something, their behavior is attributed to PMS or to menopause. This judgement has left women feeling frustrated, angry, and questioning the soundness of their own character.
Women are no longer willing to be dismissed in this manner. It’s time for women to talk to each other and to affirm each other’s experience. Women need to talk to their mothers and their sisters. The course of menopause is often similar in families. Women need to talk to their friends to know that their experience is shared and they are not alone.
Women are not just physical beings, the victims of their hormones. We are also intellectual, emotional, and spiritual beings who are in control of our bodies and of our behavior.
The truth is the majority of women welcome the transition of menopause. They are grateful to be finished with their menstrual cycle and the worries associated with birth control. It’s true that there are immense rewards related to giving birth, to being a mother, and to raising children. But it’s also true that once your children are grown, you are ready to take your life back and be your own person again.
Women are experts when it comes to handling the changes in their bodies. Every month since the time of early adolescence, a woman learns to adjust to the changes in her body. And there is no greater change than when a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby. Menopause is not a whole lot different, a woman’s body is simply changing again.
Women can handle the changes that are associated with this normal cycle of life. A healthy attitude and lifestyle, sensitivity to your body, open and supportive relationships with other women, and the confidence to make your own choices will ensure that you effectively manage this transition.
Shirley Vandersteen, Ph. D., R. Psych.