The Over-50 Resource
Menopause and Me
Post-menopausal serenity is an old wives’ tale.
by Gwen Chase
Menopause was fairly uneventful for me — or so I thought. I assume I started
perimenopause at age 43, when I skipped one period. I missed three periods the year I
was 45, experienced some night sweats and became fairly cranky on a regular basis.
That was it. No hot flashes (darn — I’m always cold), no sleep problems, no need for
hormone replacement (thankfully). By age 50, it was over … no more periods, the end of
menopause. Bring on the post-menopausal serenity!
Sadly, I’m still waiting for that part at age 59. I think many baby boomers harbor some
misconceptions about menopause and how it actually works. Here’s what really
happened to me after age 50.
- I noticed some increasing anxiety about … well, nothing, really.
- I became easy to anger and had to give up caffeine so I wouldn’t end up in fist
fights with other menopausal boomer babes on the commuter train.
- At age 55, I had a complete hysterectomy. For six months afterward, I became
melancholy for a few days right around the anniversary date of the surgery. I
mean, paper-towel ads on TV made me bawl like a baby.
- Since then, I have experienced daily hot flashes, sleep disturbances, brain fog,
bone/hair loss, more anxiety and all the sexual problems associated with
menopause — vaginal dryness, disappearing libido. (Geez, no wonder I’m anxious!)
Finally, my gynecologist told me what was going on. I’ve always been overweight, and
he explained that our fat cells retain estrogen, so overweight women often have a
dragged-out menopause. In other words, less severe symptoms but over a longer time
period. Even our ovaries retain some estrogen, which accounts for my weepiness after
they were abruptly yanked out.
Next year I turn 60, but I’m not counting on reaching that illusive physical nirvana
anymore. With a good diet, yoga, daily walks and anger management classes, I’m
thinking I’ll make it to retirement without seriously injuring anyone.
Health & Nutrition Over 50