Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Talking about what was happening in my body created an expansion in how I viewed menopause. Applying the tools I have used for years as a sensual researcher I began to notice and describe the sensations I was feeling that I had previously lumped all together under the heading menopausal, otherwise known as something weird is happening to me.
For example, I noticed the frequency of hot flashes, one easily identifiable sign of my transition into menopause. With a researcher's curiosity I noticed that all my hot flashes are not the same. Heart pounding sometimes comes with a hot flash, sometimes not. I noticed the differences in intensity and duration, the various times of day or evening they happen and so on. Quickly the fear faded and curiosity came to the forefront.
I became interested in my body in a new way. I was ready for information and more importantly, I wanted a specific type of information about menopause. First I wanted to know from a physical standpoint what changes do occur in women’s bodies in the transition. Honing in on that topic I informed myself in an intentional way. Although the book Wendy gave me about menopause was over 650 pages, I simply went straight to the chapter on the physical foundation for what women experience. I read with a just the facts ma’am attitude, which was only about 20 pages, and then put the book away to digest what I'd read.
There are some key things that I took away from that first quick reading. I was introduced to the term perimenopause. I realized it is a transitional period of time that is comparable to going into puberty. Great shifts in hormones take place in both. I found out that our ovaries do not stop functioning altogether just because they no longer release a mature egg each month.
I was surprised by the fact that our hormone levels during this time do not simply decrease in a linear fashion down to minuscule amounts, but in reality various hormone levels may dramatically rise while others fall. Then they shift around again, until a new balance is reached within our bodies, a balance that is healthy and normal yet not mandated any longer by reproduction. Contrary to the popular myth that I believed, we do not lose all of our sex hormones. In addition, our bodies are capable of producing all the hormones we require to be healthy sexual women for a lifetime.
I also learned that entire populations of women in cultures different from the USA experience the change into menopause without discomfort and without medical hormone replacement therapy. I had heard of a few exceptions to the rule that menopause is very rough on a woman, but they were just that - exceptions. This really got me thinking. Where did I get the beliefs I have about menopause? Until I was experiencing it myself I didn't realize I had such firmly held viewpoints on the subject. Except for the rare women, the lucky few, I had never considered that menopause could be gone through without discomfort for entire populations. It was not a part of my reality, nothing I'd ever heard before. Hummm really, entire populations of women…the menopause myths I had constructed were crumbling, a new story was emerging. Could it go that way for me?
A new possibility opened up as I rolled this new information around in my mind. What I’d been led to believe would be an unpleasant but tolerable period of my life suddenly switched into the possibility that I could have a somewhat neutral experience. I did not see how any of this could realistically be good or pleasurable. That would come to me later, but at this point I was grateful for the information and interested in what I would uncover next.