Telling the truth about menopause.

For some women, going through life transitions brings two simultaneous scripts. One script may include the lines a woman may say to those around her, what she shares with her partner, girlfriends, loved ones, even doctors and mental health practitioners. And then there is the other script; the internal dialogue going in her head that she doesn’t tell anyone because it goes against what she thinks her character role should look and be like.

This phenomenon can play out for some women as they navigate the menopause process and feel like the role they are supposed to play is someone who only complains or jokes about hot flashes, is happy to have an empty nest, is enjoying spending more time with her partner, and feels more confident with her body than she did in her 20’s and 30’s. While this may be the experience of some women going through menopause, it is not universal and many women do not feel like they have the space to tell the truth about what they are really going through. In addition, many women feel frustration that they weren’t more aware of the confusion and ambivalence they might feel going through menopause, and that it’s normal to feel cognizant of the losses as much as the gains they may be experiencing.

In her book “The Wisdom of Menopause”, Dr. Christianne Northrup describes the years leading up to menopause in the following excerpt:

“…in addition to the hormonal shift that means an end to childbearing, our bodies — and, specifically, our nervous systems — are being, quite literally, rewired. It’s as simple as this: our brains are changing. A woman’s thoughts, her ability to focus, and the amount of fuel going to the intuitive centers in the temporal lobes of her brain all are plugged into, and affected by, the circuits being rewired.”

Clearly menopause is more than just a cessation of menses and represents a much larger fundamental shift in a woman’s general functioning. Change can be scary and it’s even scarier when you’re feeling isolated in what you’re going through. This is especially pertinent when it comes sexual dysfunction that can accompany menopause and the shame around it keeps so many women in the dark. If this does apply to you, please do try to speak to your doctor about what’s REALLY going on for you, and if your doctor doesn’t have time to hear you or tells you to “just do it” when it comes to your sex life, keeping shopping for a doctor who gets you and is helping your issues get better.

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