Menopause. It’s one of those things we either joke about, or mention in fleeting, but are basically ashamed to discuss.
Written by Elizabeth Kromer/Co-Founder, VADU (Value Added Dwelling Units) Hot flashes and mood swings are the jokes we can banter about, but what about the rest? And there’s a lot. (see below for a non-exhaustive list of menopause symptoms)
When I went “through” menopause, I thought because I ate well, exercised and was tough, it was just another thing.
I was wrong. I did not have hot flashes, but I became much more anxious, woke early and could not go back to sleep
and started losing my hair. A lot of other things were probably happening, but I didn’t even know to know about
One funny outcome was that during this hair loss period (the hair loss stopped, thank God!) I went to a new hair
stylist, and she asked if I noticed any changes in my hair…
“Why, yes—it’s falling out,” I said. She didn’t respond. Got serious. Leaned in and asked, “Do you think you could be
Well, I then knew it would be the last time anyone would ask me that (how often do we know the last time we’ll
experience something?), but still I couldn’t bring myself to say I was pretty sure it had to do with menopause. I did
leave her a humongous tip though.
So, actually, I was in the beginning. The beginning of something that we don’t freely discuss, know way too little
about and suffer through needlessly. Menopause comes with a plethora of symptoms, suggested therapies, and
support; but if we don’t discuss this, how would we know? Also, most medical research is not on menopause, but on
“important” things that really pay, like male pattern balding or impotency.
One thing I knew for sure, I thought, was that hormone replacement therapy was dangerous. Now, experts
say estrogen therapy actually is considered safe and the benefits typically outweigh the risks. Those benefits include
around a 90 to 95 percent reduction in hot flashes and night sweats, along with a reduction in bone loss and
cardiovascular risk. Hot flashes, meanwhile, are often treated as a mere annoyance. But emerging research shows
they disrupt people’s sleep, which can increase the risk of cognitive impairment and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Luckily, I have Billye in my life. Billye is about a dozen years older than me, gregarious, beautiful and honest. I told
her I was rather distraught. First, she told me to quit my “horrible corporate job,” which she was right about, but I did
not do (at the time). Next, she told me it was menopause. She said she had been miserable. She did not want to be
miserable, went on hormones and her life was immeasurably better, or at least how she thought about it was.
And so, I visited a Physician’s Assistant who specialized in menopause—which was a game changer. A woman
older than me, and so much wiser was there for me to talk about…menopause, her specialty. We spoke for a very
long time. I left with solutions* and support.
The other issue with menopause is that we go through it as we get older, and as you know we’re not supposed to get old, because getting old is [considered] a bad thing. This is not universal. For example, in Uganda, where age is
revered, women talk to their aunties, who they look up to. And menopause is something that is discussed and
celebrated. You are getting older, you are getting smarter. That’s good.
So, let’s talk seriously about all stages of our lives, and celebrate them. Let’s realize we need not suffer at all, and
not be isolated. If anything as we get older and wiser, let’s get more help. Let’s belong to one another.
Co-Founder, VADU (Value Added Dwelling Units)
‘The older I get, the more I see how women are described as having gone mad when what they’ve actually become is
knowledgeable and powerful and f–ing furious.’ Sophie Heawood
*Solutions could include hormones, acupuncture, exercise, diet, supplements, etc.
Common side effects of menopause:
Burning mouth syndrome
Hair loss or thinning hair
Inability to concentrate
Loss of breast fullness
Metallic taste in the mouth
Light-headedness or dizziness
Dry, brittle nails
Cardiovascular diseases (heart and blood vessel)
Sleep problems or insomnia
Vaginal dryness and itching
Weight gain and slowed metabolism
High blood pressure
Osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
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