Menopause and change

Menopause Awareness
Embrace the Change!

By Michelle Prince


Menopause is a natural life transition experienced by every woman in the world in her own unique way. As baby boomers age, an unprecedented number of women are reaching menopause every day. Still, many remain unsure when "the change" will occur, what to expect, how to prepare for it and how to safely and effectively address their symptoms. Far beyond mood swings, hot flashes and the end of your child bearing years, the journey through perimenopause and menopause impacts every aspect of your life - mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

Understanding the Phases of "The Change"

Perimenopause: The years leading to actual menopause are known as perimenopause. The beginning of this phase is marked by a decrease in progesterone which allows estrogen to become dominant. This hormonal imbalance triggers the onset of symptoms including irregular periods, heavy bleeding, mood swings, breast tenderness and more. Many women are reaching perimenopause earlier in life due to estrogen mimicking chemicals known as xenoestrogens.

Premature Menopause: While the average age of menopause remains at about 51, more and more women are reaching menopause much earlier. Premature menopause can be naturally occurring, surgically induced (hysterectomy) or the result of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Menopause: The word menopause refers to a point in time rather than a span of years. A woman "reaches" menopause when 12 consecutive months have passed without a menstrual cycle. As menopause approaches, estrogen levels begin to drop. After the wildly fluctuating hormones during perimenopause, this phase often brings a sense of balance. However, dropping estrogen levels also introduce new symptoms and new risks for hormone and age related health conditions.

Post-menopause: Post-menopause refers to the years following a full 12 months without a menstrual cycle. Today, the average woman lives one third of her life after menopause. Women can take command of hormone and age related health risks such as breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and vaginal prolapsed by utilizing prevention strategies and initiating positive lifestyle changes now.

Steps to Embrace the Change

1. Menopause is a natural life transition experienced by every woman in the world. Toss away any old, outworn beliefs about how "terrible" this time of life is. Adopt a positive attitude by becoming aware of what's really happening and why. Knowledge is empowerment!

2. Understand the important difference between perimenopause and menopause. Each phase has a unique set of symptoms (with only a few common to both) and each requires a completely different approach. What works to relieve your symptoms in menopause can actually make you feel worse during perimenopause.

3. Identify your symptoms as estrogen dominance or estrogen deficiency. Ours is the first generation to experience extreme estrogen dominance. Understanding estrogen dominance will empower you to make wiser choices and could help you avoid unnecessary medical conditions and surgical procedures.

4. Eliminate the possibility of hormone related health conditions. Don't dismiss all of your symptoms as "just hormones". Undiagnosed hormone related conditions are common in midlife. Their symptoms both mimic and intensify your normal symptoms and can put you at risk for more serious health conditions later in life.

5. Follow current, accurate information. Use caution when searching for information and products on websites, articles and books. There are far too many unqualified people offering downright dangerous information, not to mention misleading and confusing pharmaceutical company funded clinical studies. New discoveries and products are constantly introduced, so be sure what you're following is current.

Dynamic Living Magazine Issue Vol. 2  March/April 2011 continued on next page