You probably think you know plenty about menopause. After all, it affects half of the population, so it’s not like you’re the first one to go through it. And thanks to a more open attitude regarding our bodies and our sexuality, there are all kinds of resources that can help you figure out what to expect. Still, you may not be entirely prepared when the change comes upon you. So here are just a few things that many women don’t know about menopause.
- There’s no set age. You probably know that every woman’s body is different, but thanks to healthier living and improved medical practices, some women are going longer and longer before menopause sets in. Just because your mom started “the change” before the age of fifty doesn’t mean you will. Heck, there are women having babies in their fifties and even sixties! Although this is fairly uncommon, you should be prepared for the fact that your monthly visitor could keep showing up well past the age of retirement. And just so you know, the rule of thumb has been that your childbearing years are over once you’ve missed your period for a year. But in some women menopause can drag on…and on. So don’t be surprised if you think you’ve finished menopause and it turns out you’re wrong.
- Hot flashes? They’re more like marathons! The term “hot flashes” implies a situation that passes just as quickly as it arrived. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is a myth. Hot flashes come on quickly and then they tend to linger. The heat builds in your body until you’re sweating up a storm, but it doesn’t stop there. If you’ve ever run a 10K in 100-degree heat or done Bikram yoga, you might have an inkling of how hot you’re going to feel. And the burn is slow to fade. So bring extra tees wherever you go (along with a paper fan) and stock up on sheets. You’re going to need them…frequently.
- Get ready for hormone fluctuations, and everything that comes with them. Some women are lucky enough to have periods that come like clockwork. And over time you learn to deal with your own particular issues, such as acne outbreaks, cramps, headaches, insomnia, and so on. But menopause will mess with everything you have come to understand about your monthly cycle. It may cause your cycle to be heavier or lighter than average, come early or late, or stay a few extra days. So plan for anything, because you just might get it.
- Libidinal issues. You might assume that your libido goes the way of the dodo once you hit the menopause stage, but this is far from true. You’ll go through hormonal peaks and valleys throughout the process, and there will be times when you feel like a teenager, or more likely a woman in her peak childbearing years. The point is that your sex life is far from over. If ever there was a silver lining (aside from giving up your menstrual cycle), this is it.
- The hairy truth. You might think that hot flashes and heavy flow are the worst of your worries, right up until you start to notice new hair growth…on your face. Thanks to hormone fluctuations, you could end up with some dark bristles on your chin and upper lip or an abundance of peach fuzz all over. But with a little plucking over herefollow and some depilatory cream over there you should be able to keep this unwanted aspect of menopause under control.