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Journey Through Menopause

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Information and resources about the journey from peri-menopause to menopause and the physiological and emotional changes a woman can experience during this time.

Specializes in Whole Health and Behavioral Health.

Are You Experiencing Symptoms of Menopause?

Journey Through Menopause

According to the National Institute on Aging, “Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman's last period. The years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are called the menopausal transition, or perimenopause.  The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55.” 1

While the old discomforts of speaking about menopause openly have changed, what has not changed is its impact on many women’s physical and emotional daily lives. Back in the day, menopause was often treated as a pathology. Books and journal articles were written about the disturbing changes women go through and menopause was often given a diagnosis identifying it as a related mental or emotional pathology. The famous Phyllis Chesler's book, "Women and Madness"2 is such an example.

Much emphasis was placed upon the physical changes of menopause as just part of what a woman can experience during this time. Medicine didn't have much to offer women who were suffering through this transition. The emotional changes of a woman during menopause were often referred to as “hysteria”, depression or melancholy. This labeling suggests a pathological quality to any woman who experienced those symptoms during menopause and the treatment was usually a popular tranquilizer or sedative.

Some of us do not necessarily welcome the signals of the ending of our reproductive years. For many women, it can impact not only physical body changes but also their sexual drive and experience. Many of us fear this transition because of hormonal shifts that take place and produce unwanted effects such as hot flashes, night sweats, or insomnia.

Other issues like facial hair growth, thinning of hair, weight gain and fatigue can also accompany the hormonal changes that take place during menopause. *While menopause is a natural, inevitable, and even healthy part of our reproductive experience, there are many women who do not have an easy time with it. On the other hand, some women have little to no discomfort at all.

I have taught the subject of reproductive health for many years. Thankfully, the options, treatments, and our ability to have control over the resulting symptoms have changed significantly. Yet, we are not given information about this process that could greatly reduce our concern about the symptoms that happen during this time. Many of us did not necessarily have all the information we needed to make the experience
easier in those years of transition.

As many of us are aware of but don’t necessarily connect with, the physical symptoms that can accompany menopause until they are in the process themselves. Some of the changes that can be difficult to deal with are:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism

The National Institute of Whole Health (NIWH), an accredited Whole Health education organization since 1976, has made available a free video course titled Journey through Menopause that is entertaining and informative. This course can give you a different perspective and understanding of menopause. It also provides 4 ANCC-approved contact hours.

The video offers you new insights and tools to make your own Journey through Menopause less challenging and easier to move through. Understanding the 5 Aspects of Whole Health™ * can help an individual reduce or greatly control the symptoms of the menopause process.

The course video addresses the accompanying aging issues women experience as well as common physical and emotional challenges that can accompany them. The course is filled with evidence-based information on the subject, yet is fun and engaging. You can access the course online for free at this address:

https://wholehealtheducation.com/journey-through-menopause-free-ce-webinar/.

If you or any of your friends or relatives are experiencing this “change of life” it may be helpful and greatly appreciated if you share this free information with them as they will come away with a clearer, deeper understanding of what the journey through menopause is all about and what they can do to take more control over the process.


References

1. National Institute on Aging, 2017
2. 5 Aspects of Whole Health™
3. FREE CE – A Whole Health Approach to Experiencing Menopause
4. Women and Madness: Revised and Updated | amazon Book

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16 Comment(s)

walkingon, CNA, LPN

Specializes in LTC, Assisted Living. Has 10 years experience.

Thanks for raising awareness on this topic!  Just wanted to add that, for those on Reddit, there is a sub with a wealth of information and support for menopausal women.  It’s been super-helpful to me and lots of others.  r/menopause

Dr Georgianna Donadio, PhD

Specializes in Whole Health and Behavioral Health.

Hello Walkingon -

Thank you for sharing that resource with everyone!
It is so helpful to have the information and resources we need
to navigate the transition of menopause.
Kind regards,
Georgianna

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I was never so glad to be done with anything like I was with my reproductive years. I’d always had horrendous periods, but in my early 40s I began to have ones that were so long and heavy I almost needed a transfusion once. Things got so bad that I was going to have a hysterectomy, but my insurance decided I hadn’t suffered enough and would only pay for an ablation. I had that and still had periods, but they were lighter and didn’t interfere with life as much as before. 
 
Fortunately, I only spent about five years in the morass that was perimenopause, living on Paxil and Ativan, and by age 47 or 48 I was done. SO happy not to have to deal with all that anymore. I’ve never felt like I was less of a woman because I could no longer have babies, in fact I have felt *more* feminine since passing through “the change”. No more hot flashes and night sweats for THIS gal. 

 

Dr Georgianna Donadio, PhD

Specializes in Whole Health and Behavioral Health.

Hello VivaLasViegas,
Yes, its really different for each woman....some of us are happy to be done and others are not, some have no symptoms (or very little) and some of us suffer considerably.

Glad your transition was not a bad one! That's a blessing and its great that you feel better and more feminine since your change. 

Thanks for sharing your experience!
Kind regards
Georgianna

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

I am pretty disappointed that menopause is still a "dirty" subject among so many. It's whispered like it's some big secret that won't happen either surgically or naturally to all women.

I wanted my mom to tell me about hers so I could have an idea what to expect. She refused to discuss it. She is only 18 years older than I am.  I thought Boomers were more open about discussing such things. Not my Boomer family members.

I am going though it all  now and I gotta tell you it's been a rough journey. I am hot all the time.  Even in the dead of Winter. My poor husband ----I have to have my room at like 65 degrees to not feel like I am suffocating. I have to have a fan blowing on me at home to keep sane. I thank God we got air conditioning in our house some years ago. Most homes don't have it here in the PAC NW unless it's added.  I am glad I thought ahead.....

My skin-----oh my skin----- feels like pin pricks when I get my "flashes". I don't sleep any more. Like literally. I went to bed last night at 2130 (had to be up at 0300 for work). Guess who woke up at 0045? Yep me. This happens all.   the.  time.  It is exhausting and depressing. I cannot get back to sleep any way any how. Migraines, I have them. But now they are like every other day, not week or month....

Oh and depression? I have to be on two different antidepressants to keep the gloom at bay so I can function. This all became a huge issue during perimenopause, one I did not expect to exacerbate so badly. I have a history of moderate depression but now it's in high gear.

I have never been fatter. I eat my emotions and my metabolism is eclipsed by that of the average tortoise.

The good thing is no more periods-----and it's awesome. But I feel like I have PMS about 3 weeks out of each month........

NO ONE told me it would be like this. Not even my doctor. I feel like I am blindly finding my way through a major life change that is natural, but is not fun or inspiring.

Yes there are books---- but reading about it versus talking about it can't be compared. I deserved and should have had more guidance from the older female members of my family (mother, cousins, etc) but everyone clammed up when the "m" word was mentioned by me. How sad.

I will discuss w/ my own daughter and granddaughters my experience if they ask, not to scare them but to give time to prepare and cope better than I have----helping them on their way through such a huge change event in life.

Thanks for this article. LET'S TALK ABOUT IT!  And talk more---- And then talk about it again,  until it's no longer taboo.

As sisters we need to have each others' backs.

I am so sorry to complain so much but it feels so good to let it out. My poor husband can't understand and he tries, bless his soul.....ah life.

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

20 hours ago, VivaLasViejas said:

I was never so glad to be done with anything like I was with my reproductive years. I’d always had horrendous periods, but in my early 40s I began to have ones that were so long and heavy I almost needed a transfusion once. Things got so bad that I was going to have a hysterectomy, but my insurance decided I hadn’t suffered enough and would only pay for an ablation. I had that and still had periods, but they were lighter and didn’t interfere with life as much as before. 
 
Fortunately, I only spent about five years in the morass that was perimenopause, living on Paxil and Ativan, and by age 47 or 48 I was done. SO happy not to have to deal with all that anymore. I’ve never felt like I was less of a woman because I could no longer have babies, in fact I have felt *more* feminine since passing through “the change”. No more hot flashes and night sweats for THIS gal. 

 

Your post is encouraging to me. There IS an end to this madness. Or at least abatement. Thank you so much.

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

I am not on hormone replacement. I was for a while but realized the risk is not worth any benefit, especially the older I get. I take black cohosh but heard it can take 6 months to really make a difference. Well, 6 months will pass,  on it or not, so it's worth a try!!

I just want to feel "normal" again. My mother in law did say she has gotten much better in the last 6 or 7 years or so. She is about 15 years older than me. I wanted to cry and kiss her feet for giving me hope....

On 6/18/2021 at 6:35 AM, walkingon said:

Thanks for raising awareness on this topic!  Just wanted to add that, for those on Reddit, there is a sub with a wealth of information and support for menopausal women.  It’s been super-helpful to me and lots of others.  r/menopause

I will have to check this out. Yes, I am passionate. I am sorry to hog the thread; please forgive me. I just want to stop my personal madness here.

Dr Georgianna Donadio, PhD

Specializes in Whole Health and Behavioral Health.

Hi Smiling Blue Eyes - a privilege to hear your story.

I had a horrendous menopause and went on transdermal, bio-identifcal hormones and they changed my life. Was on them for a year and that did the trick! The transdermal doesn't require your liver to process the hormones and the concerns about any pathology is so minimal that unless you have a genetic marker for breast pathology, they are worth a try!

My sister has been on them for quite a while and she is so happy she is on them because when she's not - she is a mess emotionally and physically. I could write volumes about why, but instead suggest you watch the video on menopause that is mentioned in the post and hope you enjoy it! Let me hear from you after you watch it and let me know your thoughts :)

Warm regards,
Georgianna

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

On 6/20/2021 at 3:41 PM, Dr Georgianna Donadio said:

Hi Smiling Blue Eyes - a privilege to hear your story.

I had a horrendous menopause and went on transdermal, bio-identifcal hormones and they changed my life. Was on them for a year and that did the trick! The transdermal doesn't require your liver to process the hormones and the concerns about any pathology is so minimal that unless you have a genetic marker for breast pathology, they are worth a try!

My sister has been on them for quite a while and she is so happy she is on them because when she's not - she is a mess emotionally and physically. I could write volumes about why, but instead suggest you watch the video on menopause that is mentioned in the post and hope you enjoy it! Let me hear from you after you watch it and let me know your thoughts 🙂

Warm regards,
Georgianna

From whom did you get the bio-identical hormones? My doctor just tells me to take black cohosh and I am not thrilled w/it so far. Thank you so much for your encouragment and help. I really do appreciate you. I will watch the video when I get the time. I did not notice it at first; thank you for the reminder.

Dr Georgianna Donadio, PhD

Specializes in Whole Health and Behavioral Health.

Hi Smiling Blue Eyes,
I went to my MD gyno who is a holistic doc. I live near the Needham, Massachusetts area where he practices, but believe there are a number of docs who would prescribe it. 
Good luck and let me know how you do with that!
Kind regards,
Georgianna

 

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

1 hour ago, Dr Georgianna Donadio said:

Hi Smiling Blue Eyes,
I went to my MD gyno who is a holistic doc. I live near the Needham, Massachusetts area where he practices, but believe there are a number of docs who would prescribe it. 
Good luck and let me know how you do with that!
Kind regards,
Georgianna

 

Thank you. And again, my sincere thanks for opening the conversation! It's an important topic as more women than ever in history enter this life change.

Dr Georgianna Donadio, PhD

Specializes in Whole Health and Behavioral Health.

Absolutely! A very necessary conversation ~
Warm regards
Georgianna

kbrn2002, ADN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis. Has 19 years experience.

I was one of the women with thankfully few menopausal symptoms. I started menopause with either skipping an occasional period or worse having one every 2 to 3 weeks for a period of several months. As much as I hated that at least I never did have any issues with excessive bleeding or cramping. 

I stopped menstruating at 52 and was so glad I had essentially zero problems, and then when I thought it was over and I had gone through "the change"  then the hot flashes started! 

No idea why my body decided to wait until I was done with my period for over a year before that started but boy it felt like some kind of mean prank. A ha-ha and you thought you were done with this moment. Holy gates of Hades it's awful!  It sounds kind of funny so I can see why why it's ripe material for comedians. I mean one second I'm fine, then out of the blue it feels like I walked into a furnace going full blast. Complete with breaking out into a sweat and skin flushing in weird patches.  At home I can at least peel off some clothes, I'm guessing they'd probably frown upon that if I tried it at work! 

 Even happens when I am sleeping apparently since I wake up naked and freezing after throwing all my covers off which my dogs then steal!  No clue how long this will go on but I have talked with a few elderly women that have suffered from these hot flashes for years, so I doubt they are going away any time soon. I will never ever again make fun of a woman with hot flashes, it is not funny in any way shape or form!  

I guess I should be somewhat thankful though that the hot flashes have been my only menopausal symptom. 

Dr Georgianna Donadio, PhD

Specializes in Whole Health and Behavioral Health.

Hello KBRN 2002,

Just when you thought you had escaped the dreaded hot flashes! I am sorry you had a delayed response to "the change" but that does happen.

From my research on the subject what appears to be happening when hot flashes occur is this: - The endocrine system is a group of glands that are interdependently connected to one another and act synergistically with each other, either stimulating or suppressing response.

When we stop ovulating, our body still needs to have steroid precursors so another gland needs to take over to compensate for the missing hormones that were once produced by the menstrual cycle.

That gland is the adrenal gland - the same gland that you get a rush of heat from if you are blushing, become embarrassed or over stressed. It's the same gland that impacts so many functions, including blood pressure, and until our bodies find the new pathway to producing what we need from the reproductive system, these hot flashes are telling us they are trying their best to help regulate our system.

Your adrenal function kicked in a little later than usual but that is basically the process that occurs. There are many alternatives out there for you to try. I have written about my own bio-identical transdermal hormone experience. I don't suggest the oral use as it has a different metabolic pathway than transdermal use.

Sometimes very little of the bio-identical hormones can make a huge different. The herbs never did it for me but everyone is different.

Good luck with your process. If you were an exerciser before menopause, the transition appears to be easier and you can start off slowly exercising and build up with it and that seems to help as well.

Thanks for sharing -
Kind regards,
Georgianna

Peachpit

Has 31 years experience.

I am in the same boat as everyone here. The anxiety and depression I've dealt with for decades has worsened, the hot flashes, nausea, weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, the insomnia, irritability, tearfulness, anger/rage issues. My personality has changed, I'm quieter, less outgoing, my voice has changed some too. Never knowing from one day to the next how bad one or more of these symptoms will be makes the transition worse. I feel bad more days than I feel good but am beginning to accept that this is as good as life is going to be from this point forward. I'm trying to deal with it as best I can one day at a time.  

I too have tried various supplements and used the Estradiol patch which did nothing. I read about this product Estrolife https://smnutrition.com/  and have used it for several years. While not perfect, it has definitely helped with the hot flashes. They aren't as intense, as often or as long.

There is also a blog that has some helpful information if anyone is interested. It's https://www.menopausegoddessblog.com/

 

Dr Georgianna Donadio, PhD

Specializes in Whole Health and Behavioral Health.

Hello Peachpit,
Yes, menopause can truly upend our lives. Happy to hear you found something that has helped to some degree.

From my understanding and experience, Estradiol by it self is not necessarily effective as it does not have the opposing components of progesterone in it. Also many women get too much estrogen from the patch and that can cause problems and does not support stopping the hot flashes.

You would think given that the majority of the population are women, and most of us experience changes with menopause, that there would be lots of research and options about treatments to address the symptoms. Maybe as more women enter the field of medical research we will see more focus on this health transition.

Thanks for sharing Peachpit.
Kind regards,
Georgianna