Approximately 6,000 women enter menopause every day in the United States. That means by Friday, we could populate a small town with sweating, crying inhabitants with indigestion and hairy toes. By the end of the month, we could have a city the size of Gilbert, Arizona with 180,000 women helplessly hurled into hormonal havoc. Get out of their way because some of them are in a testy mood.
It’s a crying shame that we could live to be 100 but only twenty of those years come with youthful vigor, shiny hair, smooth skin, multiple orgasms, and a flat stomach. Only the strongest species on earth could survive hot flashes, incontinence, hair loss, age spots, uncontrollable flatulence, and erratic mood swings after forty. Someone give us a crown and a plate of cookies!
While it is better than dying too young, living past forty often comes with unpleasant and bewildering challenges. For the most part, every single symptom of menopause is caused by one reason, and one reason alone: hormones. It seems that your body makes several different kinds of hormones that love to cavort through your body and play havoc with your sanity. Two major players are called estrogen and progesterone. In medical terms, estrogen is produced in your ovaries and acts as a chemical commander in chief, telling your female body what to do. In not-so-medical terms, imagine a teeny tyrant running through your brain yelling, “Grow pubic hair now!” “Ovulate from the left ovary!” or “Make that boob bigger than the other one!” As with most power-hungry rascals, estrogen likes to change the rules every now and then just to confuse you.
As perimenopause begins, your ovaries are tired of taking orders, so they decide to reduce the production of estrogen. “Attention All Sectors. Estrogen is leaving the body. Farewell party at noon in the pituitary gland.” Then all hell breaks loose and you start to experience symptoms of perimenopause. The fact that you live through this chaos is definite proof of your magnificence. A lesser species would have become extinct millions of years ago.
But why not make it a multi-generational issue! It’s a rather cruel trick of nature that you could be raising teenagers and caring for aging parents while your Generalissimo Estrogen is barking orders at your female parts, your Busy Bee Progesterones are frantically fixing up the uterus for the Sperm and Egg Combo, and your Naughty Testosterone is working your libido like a tigress in heat. Don’t give up! Soon, these symptoms will pass and you’ll be too old to remember anything.
To survive the physical and mental annoyances that assault your body and mind during menopause, here are some helpful suggestions that have absolutely no basis in medical fact:
- Take all your pointy-toed shoes and line them up in the driveway. Then drive over them several times before you throw them away. Your feet will feel fabulous and you’ll get rid of some latent aggression.
- Cool your steaming head with a boxes of frozen diet food that have been languishing in your freezer for the past ten years. You’re never going to eat them anyway so you might as well put them to good use.
- The next time a telemarketer calls, start explaining your ailments and frustrations in graphic detail. Don’t stop until the caller starts to cry. Then hang up.
- Feeling lonely? Email your friends that you’ve decided to give all your money to that nice young man who emailed from Nigeria. Then sit back and wait for them to scurry over for a visit.
- If you experience uncontrollable urges to shop and eat (and who doesn’t), just blame it all on menopause. You can shop and eat for less than $30 if you wander through the aisles at Costco and feast on all the free samples. Then buy a case of wine, a huge jar of chocolate covered peanuts, and a twelve-pound pie and then call your friends over for a party. To be prudent, don’t forget the year’s supply of toilet paper.
- Symptoms of menopause can make you forgetful and absent-minded. Write your kid’s names on their foreheads with a Magic Marker Pen so you don’t have to go through the irritation of memorizing their names every day.
- Menopause can make you magnificent! That’s baloney, but claim that as your mantra if it makes you feel better. Remember, this all will pass someday and then you’ll be too old to care anymore.
The main goals of surviving menopause are to stay alive and to sleep with both legs under the covers. If we can achieve these noble visions and avoid arrest, we’ll laugh all the way to bingo night at the Senior Center.
Adapted from the book Menopause Sucks by Joanne Kimes and Elaine Ambrose.
Published by Adams Media.