Who of the seven dwarfs of Menopause are showing up as the trusted support crew for you as the 40+-year-old Snow White...
Can SNOW WHITE Escape the Seven Dwarfs?
Snow White has left the building.
Where can we find that young, vibrant, unwrinkled person that we once identified with as self?
Grimm's fairy-tale of Snow White and the 7 Dwarves made for quite a generation of women.
You know, the June Cleaver of the 50s.
She can cook, keep the house tidy, and takes care of the kids, while concurrently wearing her best-ironed clothes with a smile.
Meanwhile, she puts out her best efforts to show that she has no menopause symptoms because they might disrupt the king.
GURRRRRL. JUST STOP!
SEVEN DWARFS OF MENOPAUSE (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS)
Hey sweaty lady!
Have you been up all night with looping thoughts?
Are you waking up in the morning feeling totally exhausted and fogged out?
Did you just watch a dog commercial and then consequently burst into tears?
Did you laugh and all of a sudden pee yourself?
Welcome to Club Menopause!
Where feeling like Snow White or the Wicked Witch is entirely acceptable!
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
If you have seen the Disney movie, you can probably identify your inner Snow White (as your young self). The wicked Queen (as the aging process) and the little guys that trip you along the way (the diabolical dwarfs that make you transmute into someone you eventually don't recognize).
Get "kissed by the prince" and you are saved. (Insert eye roll here).
Where did she go?
SHE'S LONG GONE!
She's too busy:
- managing fluctuating hormone levels
- figuring out how to (finally) set proper boundaries without feeling guilty
- learning the art of channeling her inner "Sexy Years" a la actress Suzanne Somers
And if you are in the online dating world as an aging hetero female, let's get real! The only "prince" liable to come and kiss you will probably not be young and hot. Society has saved that romantic encounter for aging men.
So, forgo the apple and grab your own fabulous peaches!
The Change of Life
Menopause. Officially defined as when a woman stops having her period after one full year.
What is changing as a result of menopause?
YOUR. ENTIRE. BODY!
Not that you can remember what it was like to go through puberty (unless you happen to be the mother or aunt of some young girls right now), it wasn't pretty, I'm sure.
Getting flooded with new hormones is never easy when you are young.
In the same way, having them taken away on the backend when you are older isn't easy either.
Moody, weepy, sensitive, acne, period cramps, bloated, can't focus.
The lead-up to Menopause is perimenopause and in some women, can start as early as 40.
Women's reproductive hormones naturally start their gradual decline at this time, like a slow leak in a car tire.
Medical conditions which speed up the menopause process:
- large fibroids
- breast cancer
- reproductive cancers
- the need for a radical hysterectomy
- medications that block estrogen
Snow White's agreement can change quickly as a result of any of these intense situations making Menopause even harder to handle.
Symptoms of perimenopause can be similar to Menopause and can include:
- skipping a period
- heavier or lighter bleeding
- hot flashes
- feeling "flat"
- longer recovery after a workout
- dry skin, hair, and nails
- trouble losing weight
INNER SELF CRITIC
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL....
...WHO'S THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL?
Midlife and the Aging Process
"Mirror mirror on the wall; who's the fairest of them all?"
Aging is not for the faint of heart. Who you saw in the mirror at 20 or 30 is not the woman looking back at you now.
Embracing the process and making space emotionally for this change can be a gift of self-love, self-compassion, and self-care.
Being tempted by the beauty industry's idea of a perfect-looking apple exteriorly cannot change the interior core.
So, befriend the witch; she isn't wicked at all and understands that she is the woman who might actually be the one that holds the magical powers.
The Seven Dwarfs of Menopause
Statistically, more than 80% of all menopausal women feel the heat rush through their body like a bolt of liquid molten lava...welcome, the HOT FLASH.
- Thanks to a decline in estrogen, our internal thermostat gets tripped up, leading to difficulties in maintaining an average body temperature.
- Our internal temperature rises (like a fever), causing our blood vessels to widen.
- Our pores open to let the heat escape causing us to sweat.
- Our pores then close, leaving us feeling chilled.
Do you find that you have been much less thirsty in your getting older years? Estrogen and progesterone play a significant role in thirst. When they decline, our blood becomes a bit thicker, and our ability to regulate water gets tougher leading to swelling and bloat.
63% of menopausal women experience insomnia which typically accompanies night sweats
Insomnia is defined as:
- hard to get to sleep
- hard to stay asleep
- waking up too early and can't get back to sleep
What's going on?
- recent medical studies report that the decline in estradiol (a type of estrogen) and reduction in melatonin hurt our ability to sleep
- melatonin is a hormone that is released by the pineal gland and follows the light/dark, dark/light cycles of the day/night rhythm
- as melatonin declines, our circadian rhythm becomes an out-of-sync orchestra leaving us tired during the daylight and wide awake at night
According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), approximately 23% of women deal with sudden mood shifts or changes during their menopausal years.
These women might experience:
Menopausal women often feel like they are on an emotional rollercoaster.
Moodiness and sudden behavior changes come from imbalances in hormones.
When estrogen is in free fall, we have trouble keeping our thoughts and emotions stable.
Don't worry, you aren't "going crazy"...thank goodness we aren't living in the early part of the century when religion believed that a woman's moodiness and hot flashes were a result of being possessed! Or when women were committed to institutions due to their "hysteria".
Hysteria and hysterectomy sound eerily similar...what do you think they did to women going through menopause way back when?
Up to 60% of women going through Menopause deal with brain fog. Our reproductive hormones collectively contribute to our ability to process and learn new activities. They even play a part in how we comprehend and word-finding skills.
When these hormones drop during Menopause, a woman can lose her "sharpness."
These women might deal with:
- loss of ability to find words
- attention deficit
- decreased balance
- reduced coordination
Poor sleep quality and stress can take make a major impact on how well women can concentrate during menopause.
A recent 2022 study published by Menopause 2022 study published by Menopause, the Journal of the North American Menopause Society, revealed racial and ethnic differences in those women dealing with menopausal bloat and gastrointestinal (GI) distress.
The results per ethnicity revealed:
- more distress came from the non-Hispanic White woman (nausea, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite)
- Hispanic women reported high severity of constipation, weight gain, and bloating
- non-Hispanic African American women reported more elevated amounts of weight loss
- non-Hispanic Asian women suffered the most minor and reported minimal GI symptoms overall
Once again, the drop in hormones plus a rise in the stress hormone cortisol can directly contribute to digestive problems. Hormones play an essential role in how we metabolize food and fluids, so when they begin to go wonky, so does our belly.
In addition, as we age, our GI tract also changes and becomes less efficient in moving waste products.
Insulin resistance also plays a role in the aging female as she becomes less tolerant to eating carbohydrates, which quickly turn to sugar.
This can lead to the "Meno-pot," or the fat layer tube that appears around the midsection.
Women can experience:
- bloating after meals
- water retention
- swollen ankles/feet
- under-eye bags
- gassy and flatulence
Up to 50% of menopausal women deal with chronic urinary incontinence. Recurring incontinence is referred to as "the genitourinary syndrome" (GSM) 1. Menopause and GSM are directly linked to a drop in estrogen.
The implications of GSM are:
- vaginal dryness
- insufficient lubrication
- painful intercourse with occasional bleeding, burning, or itching of the vulva after sex
- chronic UTIs (urinary tract infections)
- decreased sexual desire
- loss of orgasm
Urinary tract infections further reduce the amount of estrogen, leading to a negative feedback loop. In addition, estrogen is responsible for the elasticity of the urethra, so when it declines, it can cause the urethra to shorten up to 1-2cm.
Suppose a woman has gone through labor or had multiple vaginal births. In that case, her pelvic floor can also be traumatized and damaged, leaving the bladder's muscles weak, leading to an "easy leak."
Not All the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause are Sinister Beings
Can we just take a minute here and discuss how hot and bothered middle-aged women became when they read Fifty Shades of Grey?
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY GOT 68% OF WOMEN OVER 40 AROUSED!
During and after reading that book, 71% of married women admitted having more sex with their partners.
Of those in committed relationships, 70% felt freer to explore their sexuality while reading this book.
Suppose ovulation and pregnancy are now off the table. What is stopping us from expressing ourselves in ways our younger selves might have been too shy to explore?
Menopause allows us to stand in our sexual power and to own our beautiful selves.
Despite the hormonal decline, the opportunity to elevate ourselves sexually, spiritually, and emotionally is at this time of Menopause.
Love yourself, be brave and find the strength to stand in your power.
Embracing Menopause means wrapping yourself around the most beautiful, mature, self-loving you.
Seven Dwarfs of Menopause (Invasion of the Body Snatchers)
by DR. BIANCA BELDINI
July 13, 2022
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read full disclosure here.