Today’s Solutions: October 26, 2021

Laarni San Juan, 42
Registered nurse, San Francisco, CA
“After delivering my first and only child at age 34, I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. I haven’t had a period since, so even though I’m relatively young, you could say I’m in the latter stages of menopause. I’ve definitely experienced hot flashes, dryness, insomnia and mood swings. The most unpleasant thing about my experience is that it happened so much earlier than I expected. I had predictable periods throughout my life, worked out regularly and am healthy and fit. Initially, I kept asking, ‘Why me?’ But even though I didn’t see it coming, I have come to adore my body in the state it is now in and have become more mindful about what I need to do to complement the body changes that occur with aging. While the initial symptoms are earth-shaking—you feel your body sweat, cool down and then sweat again in a matter of minutes; you feel your skin dry up more and more each day; you feel your libido sink and can’t understand why; mood swings come and go; insomnia kicks in—the new body sensations don’t last forever. Menopause is just a body’s way of telling you that womanhood has shifted into a new category and one that confirms, ‘I am woman, hear me roar!’”
Lisa Lofthouse, 56
Yoga instructor, Fayetteville, NC
“I own a yoga studio and teach yoga to women mostly between the ages of 40 and 70, so in addition to my own experiences, I’ve gone through menopause with a lot of these women. I thought I would reach 50, stop having my periods and be done with it all. Instead, it’s dragged on for five long years. My biggest complaint has been migraine headaches that have persisted even after my periods stopped. It was so bad that I began a natural hormone replacement therapy to even things out and try to decrease the severity of the migraine, and it has worked wonders. The most surprising thing about the entire experience has been the spectacular benefits of my yoga practice. I do not suffer from hot flashes as much or as severely as my friends who do not do much yoga. Yoga has also allowed me to feel healthier, more confident, more vibrant and more clear-minded. Plus, the yoga classes have given us all a great sense of community. Once a week, we all go out to breakfast after class and the laughter and energy rock the room. Together we’ve learned that menopause is not the end of our lives; it’s the beginning of a new way of thinking, acting and being that’s merely different from other stages of life.”
Francine Filion, 54
Director of communications, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Ottawa, ON
“My mother died from breast cancer when she was 39, and my sister had her uterus removed in her 40s, so neither really had a ‘natural’ menopause that I could relate to. Before I stopped menstruating, I was waking up at 3 a.m. every night for no reason at all. When I began menopause, I stopped drinking coffee, stopped eating processed foods and started taking a mild anti-depressant. Something worked, because my mind-racing 3 a.m. wake-ups have stopped. I’m also loving the money I’m saving from not having my period (Tampax, pads, etc.) and not having the huge pimples I used to get, even at 50 years old. I’ve even been pleasantly surprised by my hot flashes. I thought they would be massive tropical vacations that would interfere with my life and work, but instead they’ve been more like very occasional short heat waves. Overall, I’ve been lucky. Every woman is different, but menopause isn’t a nightmare stage in life, and it’s not the end of femininity as defined by society, at least not for the French-Canadian gal.”
Barbara Kellam-Scott, 58
Writer, Sussex, NJ
“I can’t imagine how my mother’s generation got through menopause alone. The best part about going through menopause now is how my generation is beginning to open up and share our experiences. This process has taught me how to trust my sisters-in-body for anything, accept their care for me and know that it’s a shared experience that’s just our amazing system’s last hurrah. Menopause is in no way predictable, and every woman is different, but what we can rely on are our friends.”
Read more on  menopause in The meaning of menopause, Still on the journey and “Menopause is a wake-up call.”

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