Most of us think that menopause worries are for those who are over the age of 50, but in reality menopause can hit much earlier on. As a woman, a pharmacist, and a NAMS* Certified Menopause Practitioner, I was very pleased recently when I heard Ada Calhoun, the author of Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, identify perimenopause and the hormonal changes of midlife, as one of the causes of Gen X women’s struggles.
It certainly is refreshing to hear people talking about menopause because it is still a taboo subject, hardly spoken of in private, much less in public and on the radio! Ada had clearly researched the subject. She explained how some women experience symptoms similar to mental illness — anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and stress — during perimenopause.
Perimenopause Can Start in a Woman’s Late 30’s or Early 40’s
Just because it’s natural and all women go through it, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The challenges of perimenopause can affect a woman’s quality of life, relationships, and work. Most women in their 40’s don’t associate what their minds and bodies are going through with menopause – they aren’t aware of menopause and it often catches them by surprise. Most women also don’t know that the fluctuation and decline of estrogen in midlife can cause physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. Some women start to believe that they are experiencing physical or mental illness. Moreover, menopause affects not only the woman but also those around her: her partner, children, family, friends, and co-workers.
Ada writes, “In the middle of the night, I wake up feeling warm. I open the window and pull my hair back into a ponytail and drink some water. Then I glance at my phone, delete a few things, and see some spam. I hit unsubscribe and go back to bed. Then I lie there thinking, ‘What if by opening that spam email I got myself hacked? What if I just sent everyone in my contact list a Burger King ad at two in the morning?’ Now wide awake, I move on to other concerns: my parents’ health, my stepson’s college tuition, pending deadlines and on and on.” This sort of experience is common among women in midlife.
Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, NCMP, and Executive Director of NAMS*, says, “The unique confluence of stressors and hormonal shifts poses a sort of chicken-or-egg problem for Gen X women: the symptoms of hormonal fluctuation (like sleeplessness) are exacerbated by stress, while those symptoms (like not sleeping) in turn raise stress levels. How well your ovaries function depends on your cycle and your mental and emotional state. It’s all tied together.”
Help Can Be Hard to Find
Most doctors have very little menopause training and aren’t familiar with how to help; and the way our healthcare system limits the amount of time one can spend at the doctor’s office at each visit doesn’t even give a woman time to explain her troubles.
I don’t want to medicalize menopause, but as a pharmacist and NAMS* Certified Menopause Practitioner I know how hard it is for women to find the right care. Women want to be listened to, taken seriously, and reassured that it’s not “all in your head” and that they’re not alone – millions of women are going through similar challenges, and of course they want to hear that there’s help to be had.
That’s why I founded MenopausED – to educate and support women in midlife, especially in menopause, to raise awareness about menopause, and to break the taboo. I offer a range of services:
- One-on-one consultations with women, both in-person and online. I offer FREE 15-minute discovery calls — book yours today! · Workshops on corporate health and wellness (menopause in the workplace), both in-person and online
- The Women’s Health In Midlife (WHIM) Network is for women 40+ to get the best information, learn the latest, and connect with other women going through similar challenges. Join us, make time for yourself, and learn from the best!
Written by Teresa Isabel Dias
Teresa Isabel Dias is an RevolutionHER™ member based in Toronto, Canada and is the founder of MenopausED. As a pharmacist and Certified Menopause Practitioner, Teresa helps women 40+ navigate the menopause transition, induced menopause, and lifestyle changes to optimize healthy aging. She provides one-on-one consultations, in-person and online, workshops, discussion groups, and she helps organizations and businesses support female employees during the menopause transition with educational presentations in the workplace and education and training of managers and HR professionals—because besides affecting quality of life, menopause can also affect women’s work performance.
*NAMS, the North American Menopause Society, is North America’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to promoting women’s health and quality of life through the understanding of menopause and healthy aging.