Katie Brind’Amour is a freelance health and wellness writer. She has graciously agreed to share some of her knowledge with us in this guest blog:
As if menopause weren’t hard enough, some women experience it more than ten years ahead of schedule. The hot flashes, mood swings, decreased sex drive, and sleepless nights are accompanied by a slew of tumultuous emotions and questions.
Will I ever be able to have a (or another) child?
Is this an indication of another serious health problem?
Why is this happening to me so young?
What the %^#*?!
Coping with Early Menopause
Just as with traditional menopause, every woman will experience her premature menopause symptoms in a unique way. Each woman’s circumstances are different. The younger you are, however, the less likely your friends will be experiencing the “change of life” with you, making your social support network potentially limited in its ability to offer comfort and understanding. You may be shocked to find that no one wants to talk about problems from your bout with “over the hill” life when they are just worried about looking half-decent in a bikini by June.
First and foremost, turn to family. Share your concerns and emotions with your significant other or talk to your mother or sister about it. In many cases, premature menopause runs in families, and it is possible that your female relatives have experienced the same onslaught of hormone havoc as you. Simply having the support of loved ones during this time can be incredibly useful – look at the situation like any other health issue for which you would request the understanding of your family. Finding a female ancestor you can blame for crappy genes may also bring you some peace.
Second, don’t forget to keep a health professional involved, particularly if you are planning on trying to have a baby before you permanently stop menstruating. Consulting a physician is also crucial if you have not officially been diagnosed with premature menopause, as other health problems can cause menopause symptoms. After all, it would be sucky to think you’ve gone through premature menopause only to find out it was something else and you have to do it all over again when you turn 50.
Third, consider joining an online support community or local support group to meet other women who have been experiencing the same sweaty battle with fatigue and “I’m way too young for this!” feelings as you. In many cases, just knowing you are not alone and that there are other women experiencing the same combination of physical and emotional symptoms can help relieve some anxiety, stave off depressive tendencies, answer important personal questions, and supply you with the support and camaraderie of women who truly know what you are going through. If you look down your nose at support groups, at least watch a chick flick every week and pretend you have a group of soul sisters who will bear the bane of premature menopause with you every step of the way.
Life After Premature Menopause
It should be a relief to any woman experiencing premature menopause that there is, indeed, a life and a potentially very happy and rewarding future in store for you. Getting through early menopause is not easy, and the symptoms may last for several years. Just keep repeating this new pre-menopausal mantra to yourself “I am one HOT mama/accountant/dog-lover – literally!” Learning to laugh and smile about your situation gets you closer to acceptance and understanding.
Many women are still able to achieve pregnancies during the onset of premature menopause, and many others find joy in adopting children. If motherhood is out of the question, just be glad that you may get through adulthood stretchmark-free. Alternately, consider using the experience as an opportunity to meet new friends, embrace a healthy lifestyle, recommit to your partner, or totally reinvent yourself. Try a new hairstyle or color, take up a new hobby, sign up for a class at the local college, or follow a life-long dream.
Most importantly, don’t let premature menopause hold you back. Remember that there is more to being a woman than just having a period – and your life is what you make of it.
Katie Brind’Amour is a Certified Health Education Specialist and freelance health and wellness writer. She enjoys blogging about friendship and life in the not-so-fast lane while she chips away at her PhD in Health Services Management and Policy. She is also certified in Mental Health First Aid and enjoys helping others achieve the full potential of their life and health.