A few weeks ago I was chatting with a relative who recently turned 46. She asked me “when does menopause typically start?” I said “the average age is 52.” Then she asked “and when does it end?” My response “never.” She looked at me quizzically so I explained.
“When you go through menopause you lose the hormones that constituted a major factor in your physiology up until that point. They never come back.”
I could see the dawn break as the proverbial light bulb went on in her head; she was a smart woman.
Who has been telling us that menopause lasts for anywhere from a few years up to ten years? How are they defining menopause? Because in my estimation, if something occurs in your life to remove a critical substance from your body and you know it’s never coming back – that’s forever! You don’t hear doctors telling diabetics “if you take this insulin for the next few months your body might reverse itself and start producing its own insulin again.” Right?
If what they really mean about going “through” menopause is “it takes a few years for your body to adjust to the cataclysmic loss of your youth enabling hormones,” then why don’t they say that? Instead, they lull us into a false sense of security “this will all be over in time – maybe even a short time.” Bullshit! This is your new life – get used to it!
Now for those irritating women who love to announce at cocktail parties “I don’t know, I went through menopause and never noticed a thing. I was never grouchy or weepy. I never had a hot flash or gained an ounce.” I used to hate all your guts!
Don’t get me wrong; I still find you extremely annoying, but now I actually feel sorry for you. You never felt a thing; so you never did a thing about menopause. Just because you haven’t become flabby and homicidal, doesn’t mean a lack of hormones isn’t doing bad things to your body. How many of us have been killed by silent attackers that have snuck up on our bodies without so much as a hint? What do you think is happening to your hormone starved body? Well, I’ll tell you – things are shutting down; and while you may not see the impact now – trust me – you will. Bones will get brittle and bodily functions will falter. Unless, of course, you’re aliens from the planet Zolon and your bodies run on diet soda and cabernet!
For a long time I wondered when menopause would be over. Because I am on HRT it is impossible to get a true reading of when my hormone level hits the floor, marking the end of any part of my life that required hormones to keep those motors running. And frankly, I hope I keep them guessing right up until the end – because the alternative makes me shudder to my very core!
I used to think “I can’t wait until I’m through with menopause.” Now I know, if I play my cards right the medical community will never have a measurement that tells me I’m bereft of those very important chemical messengers. Because there’s only one good way of growing old – and that’s gracefully!