What’s Good About Menopause?

September 24, 2013
By

funny menopauseNight sweats. Mood swings. Vaginal dryness.  September is Menopause Awareness Month.   If you knew that already, you are lucky enough to have retained some of your memory and cognitive functioning (more on that later, I’m having trouble following more than one train of thought.)  But we don’t need a catchy calendar title to remind us about the physical changes associated with menopause, do we?

Just listen to any conversation among boomer women at any given moment: “I can’t remember shit,” one will complain.  “A three-inch hair grew out of my chin last night,” another will grumble. “I haven’t slept well in a year,” a third (me) will whine.  For some, menopausal symptoms are simply annoying, for others, it can be a living hell.

But could it be that we’re just not looking at menopause the right way?

Inspired by the lessons from the founders of Life is Good, my rabbi told us the other day about reframing how we think about our every day lives in order to feel more grateful.  He suggested turning the “I have to’s” of our lives into “I get to’s”.  He gave us some examples of how we might do that:

I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work, if I am lucky enough to have a job.

I don’t have to go grocery shopping, I get to go grocery shopping, if I am lucky enough to have the resources to shop for groceries.

I don’t have to make dinner for my family, I get to make dinner for my family, if I am lucky enough to have a family.

Lately, because of this well received sermon, I have been overhearing the pre-menopausal young mothers I know (yup, I still know a few) saying that they GET to drive the carpool across town at 10pm after their kid’s dance class ended.  No complaints, and it’s so refreshing to hear.

But that got me thinking (which is sometimes dangerous these days) that we need to reframe menopause in the same way.

We don’t HAVE to go through menopause; we GET to go through menopause!   And we GET to go through menopause, if we are lucky enough not to be dead. I feel better already.

Reframing menopause isn’t all that hard.  Let’s try another.   We GET to go through menopause, because we save money on tampons, pads, pain relievers and birth control pills, and can spend our money instead on a great pair of Jimmy Choos.  Just the thought of this is making me happier.  I think I’m on a roll….

We GET to pack on the pounds at midlife, because skinny, shriveled up old women look absolutely horrific!  

We GET to be testy, because we are lucky enough to still have our middle fingers to flip the bird at people who piss us off.

We GET to sweat like pigs, because it’s fun to jam our heads in the freezer and experiment with interesting ways to use popsicles.

We GET to be up in the middle of the night, because we have so many more productive hours in our days to worry about stuff.

We GET to be filled with anxiety, because we can suck down dark chocolate and red wine to calm ourselves down.

We GET to have a loss of libido, because we are lucky enough to have a credit card and the internet where we can experiment with all sorts of fun things to fix that.

We GET to have dry Va-Jay-Jays, because that is just the price that we happily pay not to worry about getting pregnant, ruining our pretty new underwear, or having PMS.

We GET to have crushing fatigue, because we now have an excuse to say no to things we really don’t want to do.

We GET to have those disturbing memory lapses, because now we have a really good use for all those Post It Notes we have laying around.

We GET to have hair loss, because we never really liked waxing down there anyway.

We GET to have newly acquired facial hair, because we always wanted to know if we really looked like our dads.

We GET to have mood swings and sudden tears about our empty nest, because we also get martinis and ice cream for dinner.

We GET to have osteoporosis, because those chocolate calcium chewy things are awesome and we can now soak up that sun for a bit of much needed Vitamin D.

We GET to change our underwear after we sneeze because… because….hell, I had an answer for this one, but I forgot what it was.

Here’s hoping that you are now done complaining, and can truly see the good in menopause. Go buy a pair of shoes, and feel grateful you’re not dead.

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15 Responses to What’s Good About Menopause?

  1. Marlene Clayton on September 24, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Ha,ha very funny but definitely a positive way to look at something that can’t be changed. How do you know all these things you are not old enough?

  2. Annette on September 24, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Always good to look at things in a positive light and an upbeat, humorous reminder like this is even better. BUT (yes, the big however), you think it’s better than being dead, but then realize that you ARE dying a slow death. Death by menopause, or more specifically, lack of hormones! I’m sure there are other women in this menopause boat from h**l with me, and believe me, I’m a master when it comes to positive thinking!

    Some of us have such severe symptoms it’s no laughing matter, and no amount of positive thinking helps. Personally speaking, menopause symptoms completely eroded my quality of life and well-being. I was caught in a downward spiral of poor health. Relentless hot flashes or chills every 30-45 minutes 24/7. I am not exaggerating. With each—rapid heartbeat, very loud ringing in my ears, and a highly nauseous feeling…like I’m coming down with not just a run-of-the-mill flu, but a bad, bad flu.

    No reprieve during the night time. Every 30-45 minutes, at the onset of each flash, I would wake up and then it would take me 15 minutes to get back to sleep once the flash was over. Imagine waking up very hour for at least 15 minutes! No one can function with sleep disruption on this scale for a prolonged period of time. I was severely sleep deprived and felt like the walking dead all day long. My immune system was beaten down so I started getting sick and couldn’t stop cycle. Add on a perennially foggy brain state, weight gain around the middle section so for the first time in my life I began sporting a muffin top, and, as if that weren’t enough, my cholesterol level went sky high so I have to take statins. Until menopause my doctors would marvel at my great cholesterol/triglyceride levels.

    For me, no amount of humor or trying to look at the positive side of menopause was comforting. At the rate I was going, I had no life. After nearly one year of suffering I broke down and started taking bio-identical hormones. I had tried black cohosh, soy, red clover – you name it- to no avail. Although it’s debated whether or not bio-identical hormones are any safer than hormones produced by the pharmaceutical industry, I decided to choose this risk over an extraordinarily poor quality of life. So now I can read this blog and laugh. Before, not so much. For many of us, menopause is no laughing matter. Our symptoms are so severe and relentless that our health and lives become completely disrupted. The worst part is that it’s not temporary; it’s for the rest of your life.

    • Ronna Benjamin on September 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      ok, you have bummed me out. So sorry about all your symptoms. Hope I brightened your day even a little!

      • Annette on September 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm

        Ronna,

        I didn’t mean to bum anyone out, and as Wendy said, thank you for the laughs. Plus I’ve been on bio-identical hormones for a couple of years. I went off them a few months ago forgetting how terrible things were and hoping for the best, which was one of the most delusional ideas I’ve ever had. Anyway, now my symptoms are reasonable again–something that can be laughed about. About 10 hot flashes/day vs. 30+, and most are not accompanied by nausea. Ibuprofen PM helps me sleep most of the night, whereas before nothing would, not even Ambien.

        What I was trying to say – for women who have truly severe symptoms, there’s no bright side to it. Maybe at first you laugh about it, but as the years go one, the joke is on you. So I chose to do something about it even with the potential risks. And, I’m not a weak, whiny type of woman who can’t deal with a little discomfort. I’m strong and have been graced by Mother Nature with what I jokingly call a happy camper gene.

        Concerning your list of positives, I think aside from not having to hassle with a monthly “visitor”, I love only having to shave my legs once a month!

        Still, I’m not going to “holler and hoot” about menopause symptoms when what I experienced were so severe. Perhaps my case is atypical, but everyone is indeed unique.

        • Ronna Benjamin on September 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm

          Well said. Please be sure to read some of Dr. Phuli Cohan’s articles on BA50 about menopause and alternative treatments. I don’t know, but maybe some of that information would be helpful. Just search her name on the home page of BA50 and her articles will come up.

  3. Wendy Weiss on September 24, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Thank you Ronna. I really chuckled when I read your piece.

    With all due respect to women like Annette, who are presently feeling the strong physical impact of hot flashes, I think it is good to laugh a little about things that we can’t control. I mean the giggles are good for the soul.

    So I think we should hoot and holler about hot flashes, and take them over, or at least re frame their meaning. Like Annette says, they are reminders that we are at a different stage in our lives. But I would take that more positively. Hot Flashes remind us that we are standing at the beginning of the next phase of our lives, one that a writer (forgive my menopause, I forget her name but her book is called My Time) has called “Our Bonus Decade.”

    Hot Flashes are then a sign, or a prompt, or a nudge or a prod that reminds us it is time to look at our future and develop a PLAN for it. That plan has to include a careful, organized approach to our money and our future.

    (See my story about former Texas Governor Ann Richards in my guest blog on Better After 50 Hot Flashes and Your Finances.)

    We girls have to take ourselves seriously, and take this step. It might mean we learn a few things and practice a new set of skills. But we are “older and wiser now.”

    So what are you waiting for, your chin hairs to grow in?

    • Ronna Benjamin on September 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks Wendy! Great advice! Thanks for the reminder about your article in BA50. I will make sure it gets some FB time this week!

  4. Kathy Marris on September 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Ha ha ha. Loved your take on menopause. I had never thought to look at the positives. We all tend to dwell on the negatives. Great post!

    • Ronna Benjamin on September 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks Kathy…menopause doesn’t take away the sense of humor! Thank goodness!

  5. Haralee on September 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    You have to have a sense of humor with menopause side effects! I think you left out the 24 hour make-up. As a breast cancer survivor who can not take any hormones or even over the counter remedies, I have become an expert on which make up can stand up to hot flashes. Yes I have the pleasure of watching my carefully applied makeup slide down my face!

  6. Ellen on September 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Oh no, your article made me laugh and now I have to change my underwear!

  7. JUD on September 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    AS WITH ANY ISSUE, THERE ARE PROBLEMS WHEN ONLY ONE SIDE IS AIRED. MENOPAUSE FOR WOMEN IS NOT A SINGULAR EVENT WHEN THERE IS A LOVE/PARTNER. THE UPS AND DOWNS WITHOUT ANY OBVIOUS REASON STRAINS ANY RELATIONSHIP BECAUSE THE ONCE SHARING HAS BEEN SUBLIMATED TO “SELFISH BEARING”. WHEN THERE IS A LOVING PARTNER INVOLVED, THE PROBLEMS THAT ARISE FROM MENOPAUSE ARE JUST ANOTHER (TEMPORARY) IMPASSE IN THE LIFE OF THE BEARER. YOU SHARE ILLNESS, LOSS OF A JOB OR LOVED ONE, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS. WHY IS MENOPAUSE NOT OPEN TO SHARING. I PERSONALLY WENT THROUGH THE SHARING. I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND IT, I DIDN’T LIKE IT, BUT I LOVED HER AND THAT SAYS IT ALL. JLA

  8. Jackie on September 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    This was great! Love it. Commented on HuffPo, too!

  9. Laura on October 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    As a result of the affordable care act (I.e. obamacare) birth control is paid for 100% by insurance. So, if you are lucky enough to have insurance, your birth control is free!

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