Monday, December 17, 2007

What Is Menopause?

Like all major turning points in women?s lives, reaching menopause can be challenging and even a little frightening. Like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth, menopause carries with it a whole host of natural, but nonetheless challenging and sometimes uncomfortable, physical changes. Moreover, it also carries with it a plethora of normal emotional and spiritual reactions, ranging from denial, confusion and even grief. After all, menopause marks a completely new phase in a woman?s life. It heralds the end of our childbearing bearing years and ushers in a different phase of deep female maturity. And, since unfortunately we still live in a culture that equates femininity with sexual fertility, it?s no wonder that many women regard menopause as a negative thing. Sadly some regard it as a nullification of their worth as women, something that couldn?t be further from the truth. Menopause also reminds us we are getting older and our are bodies are naturally aging. That fact in itself can be a difficult to accept.

But what is menopause exactly? Menopause is an intermediary stage that takes place when a woman?s reproductive organs fail to produce eggs, causing her menstrual cycle to stop. Typically menopause begins after or around the age of 50, however there are exceptions with some women commencing menopause earlier or later in life. And, more often than not the symptoms of menopause begin some time before onset.

There are a whole host of symptoms that can accompany menopause. Some of the more common signs are hot or cold flushes; weight gain; mood swings and irritability; emotionality; decrease in libido; muscle and joint soreness; depression; rapid or irregular heart rate; disordered sleeping patterns and irregular periods as well as lighter or heavier menstrual bleeding. In fact, the symptoms of menopause are so many and so individual that it is almost a case of ?expect the unexpected?. Some women even say they feel as if their skin is crawling!

The truth is that menopause should not be feared. Instead we should embrace and celebrate it as a normal stage in our cycle of health and wellness. That said, the symptoms and signs of menopause can be difficult to live with, and women should not face it alone. Think about it this way. If men had to go through menopause, just imagine the level of support, public awareness and caring workplace practices that would be established to help them through it! As it is, women have to muddle through menopause as best they can, dealing with it day-by-day, with their friends and sense of humor as their best allies.

Like all health matters, being well-informed about the sorts of symptoms you might experience allows you to physically and mentally prepare. Indeed, some women do not even realize they are going through menopause because they simply lack the information to explain what they are feeling! It?s not until they research and explore the signs that they make the connection. And it?s no wonder, given that the list of potential symptoms is so long and diverse.

Kathryn Whittaker has an interest in Menopause. For further information on Menopause please visit or .

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