What’s your immediate response when you hear the words perimenopause and menopause? Do they fill you with dread? Irritation? Excitement? Anticipation? Apprehension? Or just plain fear?
Thankfully the subject of menopause is much more present in the social consciousness, and women are finding it ever easier to share their experiences. By maintaining awareness, all generations have the opportunity to learn more and more about the shifts that midlife women are moving through.
I’m choosing my language very carefully here…I could have said “that women are going through”. By choosing a language shift, the possibility is opened up that menopause need not be viewed as an endurance test; rather as time of discovery.
Hear me out!
There’s so much fear shared about menopause. Perhaps part of that fear is because we are pushed to medicalise this natural transition in our lives. When the language is medicalised, sometimes a women’s experience of menopause is reduced to a list of symptoms and nothing else. Menopause offers us so much more than this, it’s an opportunity for growth.
Again, hear me out!
Over time I’ve been drawn to bin the term menopause symptoms, preferring instead to talk about menopause manifestations.
By shifting the language from symptoms to manifestations, I found, a little of the pressure of medicalisation is taken way. We are invited to look at what our bodies and psyches are asking of us when these manifestations arise.
It can become a time of enquiry.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m coming from a space deep in perimenopause, so I’m living with the challenges and discomfort daily. The physical shifts, the pain, both physical and emotional, are all staring me squarley in the face.
However, I feel that I have a container holding me steady. Knowing that each manifestation of menopause is leading me to self-exploration, being given the opportunity to grow with each prick of discomfort that comes my way.
So how can we reframe the some of the common manifestations that may be present on the peri/menopause journey?
- Hot flushes/Night sweats – am I being asked to address stress management? Am I responding to excitement? Is my body responding to food I’m eating such as spicy food, alcohol or coffee?
- Joint pain – are my joints asking for less inflammatory foods, sugar, and more anti-inflammatory foods? Am I being called to explore nourishing movement such as yoga to feed my body? Is my body asking me to slow down, speed up, or move differently?
- Vaginal dryness – Am I being called to explore my sexuality in a different way? Tenderness of self-touch? Self-pleasure? Am I being called to create juiciness in my life in another way? Through creativity? Through anything else that gives me pleasure that isn’t in the vagina vicinity!
- Irregular periods – am I being asked to face the unknown, the unpredictable, relinquish myself to my changing cyclic needs? Where else in my life is calling for something similar?
- Mood swings – am I being called to connect in deeper with my cycle if I’m still bleeding?
- Our responses are heightened during perimenopause, so our premenstrual phase may take on a new intensity.
- Often our entire cycle takes on the tone of being in a perpetual premenstruum!
- If we no longer bleed, are we being called to look at the lunar cycle to ground us? The lunar cycle guides us in a similar way to the menstrual cycle. The full moon holds a similar energy to ovulation, and the new moon holds a similar energy to menstruation.
- Brain fog – am I being called to look inward? What in my outside world am I being asked to adjust to ease the pressure? If cognitive thought processes are a challenge, am I being pulled more to connect with my intuition?
- Weight gain – am I being asked to look at more health-giving foods? The appropriate kind of exercise for midlife? Or am I being called to acceptance that my body needs to hold on to some extra weight to store oestrogen? To be more accepting of the softness of the midlife body?
- Insomnia – nope – I’ve actually got nothing at all!! Lack of sleep is a bloody soul killer! But Kate has some ideas here.
When you’re in the midst of all the discomfort, the hot flushes, the effects of insomnia, etc, exploring menopause manifestations may feel like just something else to add to the to do list…. but, dear women, give it a try!
In some South Asian cultures, midlife women don’t experience menopause manifestations in the same way we do in the West. The culture reveres rather than fears the transition. They speak of entering a Second Spring post menopause.
We are so much more than a list of medical symptoms.
Shift the language and see if you’re led to a different perspective on your menopause journey, where self-care and self-kindness, the real calls of menopause, are waiting for you.
It IS challenging, and what we’re called to look at may also be challenging, but aren’t you just a little curious…?
You may just discover the gold held within you.
In our wonderful Woman Kind Facebook community, Commit to Kindness, we offer a space to drop your bundle, just be and if you wish, to explore what your menstrual cycle or menopause journey is asking of you.