According to the National Institutes of Health, the time during which menopause occurs often includes other transitions in a woman’s life. During this time frame, women may be ushering their children into adulthood, taking care of aging parents, or taking strides in their careers. There is often a lot taking place in their life, in addition to this physical change.
It’s also true that there are a lot of negative stereotypes about menopause. Many women feel apprehensive about this change; it’s scary, and it’s new. The more we (and we really do mean we - all of us, women and men!) understand about this natural process, the more prepared women can feel to take it on with grace and acceptance.
What is Menopause?
Just like puberty transitions us into the reproductive years, menopause transitions a woman out of her reproductive years. While the average age for menopause is 51, most women can expect to experience this transition anytime between age 40-55. Some women may enter menopause before age 40, and this is considered premature menopause.
During perimenopause, the transition time leading up to menopause, the estrogen and progesterone hormone levels fluctuate wildly. Nearing menopause, though, they start a downward trend until they both eventually reach low baseline levels. Frequently, women think they’ve reached menopause when they begin experiencing symptoms related to the perimenopause stage. In reality, this first phase happens before menopause, and lasts around four years on average. Then, menopause will occur naturally when estrogen levels drop and the ovaries are no longer releasing eggs.
There are a few reasons why menopause may happen outside of the natural process. Undergoing surgery to remove both of the ovaries will put a woman into menopause immediately. Note that the same is not true for a hysterectomy when only the uterus is removed. Other reasons women might enter menopause early include medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, genetic conditions, or other medical conditions that cause the ovaries to stop functioning prematurely.
What Can I Do About It?
Menopause happens to every woman. There’s no stopping it, and that’s ok! But when we have a better understanding of what’s happening, menopause can be another beautiful chapter in our lives.
Some women look forward to this time in their life. They feel freedom from food cravings, monthly mood swings, and store runs for feminine products. Some even look forward to the ‘post-menopausal zest’, a phrase coined in the 1950s by anthropologist Margaret Mead to describe the surge of energy and enthusiasm that’s felt at that time. She stated, “There is no more creative force in the world than the menopausal woman with zest.”
There are currently available treatments that can reduce and even eliminate menopause symptoms. Everyone’s different though, so we advocate for exploring options with a doctor or menopause specialist! Doing this early is critical since some treatments, like Hormone Replacement Therapy, are most effective when taken during a specific time frame of the menopause transition.
Zillion’s newest program, RestoreBalance, will be launching soon to help women learn more about the menopausal changes they may be experiencing and to empower them to take action - whatever that may look like. We’ll be providing updates and information about the launch soon.