Celebrate menopause? Should we soon expect "Happy Menopause" sections in the local card shop? How would you decorate a cake for that event, and how many candles would be on it?
A menopause party sounds like an oxymoron, but it is really a bit more of a misnomer. When we reached our early 40s, my friends and I collectively felt a growing anxiety about reaching that milestone in life. We had many questions. Are hot flashes inevitable? Will weight gain become the new norm? What about our sex lives and the impact on our marriages?
Have a Party and Get Educated at the Same Time
Then a brilliant idea suddenly presented itself. We still don't recall who came up with the idea of a party. It seemed as if each of us had the same thought at the same time. Let's not dread the unavoidable change of life. No, let's embrace this new phase as an opportunity, an exciting transformation that will free us to explore newly found strengths and talents. Let's become educated and prepared for the path to adventure ahead of us.
Plans for the shindig came together quickly. I live in San Diego, which has a broad presence in the international medical, biotech, and pharmaceutical industries. So, I contacted the local medical school and invited a clinical medical professor to come and outline some of the physical changes we could expect. She was delighted to do so and had never heard of the novel idea of a menopause party.
There were 12 of us, and we are all fantastic cooks. We had champagne and lobster rolls as well as a delectable array of salads and fruit. The atmosphere was replete with candles and music, and of course, no men!
Our demographics were diverse. Several of us were Christian, but some were atheist. One was Hindu and one was Buddhist. Many of us were native to California, but we had several other countries represented. We were all women facing menopause, and our primary goal was to be positive and discover the hidden opportunities that life would now be presenting to us.The Changes to Come and Options for Intervention
We settled in to listen to the clinical professor. We had already informed her that we wanted to know what physical and hormonal changes to expect and the potential impact on our bodies. She started with an overview, which touched on how the follicles on our ovaries decline in responsiveness to two hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. These two hormones work to regulate estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, decreasing their effectiveness as we move into menopause. In addition, our estrogen levels decline as we age, and that can impact our overall well-being.
She gave us information on how hormone depletion affects the heart, brain, nervous system, reproductive system, bones, urinary system, skin, and vagina. All of this was a bit clinical, but we felt starting with the facts was the best approach to embracing the years to come.
We wanted a holistic approach to menopause, so we asked for information on medical interventions available, as well as nutritional, homeopathic, and other options.
Other Ways to Cope with Menopause
We discussed nutritional needs to be faced in the coming years. Let's just say that embracing changes to our diets is a given, although as we have moved into post-menopausal phases, some of us have not faced the weight gain challenges that others have. Limit alcohol (bye-bye champagne!), increase vegetables, limit carbohydrates (including fruits as the sugars are carbohydrates), and increase isoflavones.
One particular focus was on exercise and its importance as we age. An emphasis on strength training to counteract the decline of estrogen and its impact on bone density loss. The risks associated with osteoporosis climb dramatically after menopause, and strength training can help build bone density, strengthen muscles (good for burning fat), and help your metabolism. Yoga and meditation were also considered good, non-medical options for dealing with hot flashes, irritability, and fatigue. Cardio was important for heart health and overall feelings of well-being.
On a personal note, weight gain was one issue I didn't expect for myself. I have always been slender and very physically active. Still, it snuck up on me, and I'm now adopting the nutritional changes that were recommended as well as changing my exercise routine.
There was much laughter and merriment involved in our menopause party, while gaining knowledge was our prime objective. We wanted to enter this next phase, a phase that could be 30 to 40 years in length, to be our most robust and productive. We saw ourselves as resilient, brilliant mothers, sisters, and daughters, and we were determined to face the future with confidence and knowledge.
Wendy began her writing career while working at a top 10 Wall Street investment banking firm, where she researched and penned a weekly, compliance-approved newsletter detailing the events of the tax-exempt securities market.
Subsequently, she moved from Wall Street to Main Street as a senior manager for a $2 billion retailer with operations across the globe including the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Iceland. In that position, she wrote numerous business plans, scope statements, RFPs and marketing materials. This experience gave Wendy a deep knowledge of supply and demand chains for various retail sectors such as luxury cosmetics, fashion apparel, home goods, fine jewelry, and electronics. Moreover, she gained top-level experience with hotel and other hospitality industries.