In our recent live Q&A for the Blood Cycle Conference, Vivid Menopause received a question that really made us sit up and take notice. I wanted to expand on this question:
“How can women in their twenties prepare for this transformative journey? Is there anything that can be done to help our bodies prepare for menopause?”
I love that women in their twenties are asking about menopause and how they can prepare! The whole feminine life cycle is one interconnected journey, from menarche through sexual awakening, birth (births and creativity of all kinds) through menopause and the wisdom years. Menopause is not an isolated event.
Menopause/perimenopause is a gradual transformation, over many years, of our hormonal landscape and menstrual cycle, culminating in its cessation; it is an integral part of our menstrual journey and our feminine life cycle.
Remember how, as a young girl, you were eager to know everything about puberty? Even at such a young age, you understood that puberty is not a singular event. You understood that it is a transformative journey, a gradual change one goes through over a number of years. You eagerly—and with some dread—awaited the first signs, you asked questions of your peers and watched very carefully as those ahead of you on the trail entered this strange territory. You got some misinformation, to be sure, but the people and institutions around you all acknowledged your transformation, and agreed that you should be prepared for your journey.
Menopause is the same kind of transformation: a hormonal rite of passage, playing out over years, that carries us into a new realm of being. Yet, the acknowledgement and preparation are lacking.
Let’s clear some of that up.
Perimenopause typically begins in our late thirties or early forties, and menopause itself (defined as the cessation of your cycle for one full year) occurs on average at the age of 52. So we are talking about a momentous hormonal transformation, a rite of passage, that can take up to fifteen years. For us to embrace our hormonal and menstrual health, for us to embrace the full meaning of our cycles and our feminine selves, we must embrace the eventuality of menopause, and prepare for the journey.
Too often in the past, and even into the present, women suffer through menopause in isolation, and without information or support. There is an epidemic of unnecessary hysterectomies in the US and Canada and many women turn to synthetic hormones to handle the symptoms of menopause. This need not be the case. As with any physical challenge, how we handle the symptoms of menopause is profoundly affected by how society treats these symptoms, how much we know about what is happening, how supported we feel, and how well we have prepared both emotionally and physically for the changes.
There are many things we can do as young women to prepare ourselves physically, emotionally, and on a soul level for a positive menopause. Here are a few:
One common element I have seen in women’s emotional experience of menopause is that menopause calls us to resolve unhealed wounds from the past. If you develop a skill set for resolving grief and trauma, if you get the help you need as you go along in life, if you build emotional resilience, and allow yourself to heal and resolve, your menopause will be a more gentle experience emotionally.
Protect our adrenals
Many of us run ourselves ragged in our thirties and early forties, building families and careers. We often care for others at our own expense. We freely burn through our vast stores of energy, we push our limits, and we seldom take time to rest and refuel. Now is the time to build positive habits for managing stress. Integrate simple self-care strategies into your life now. Things like meditation, true days off, regular joyful exercise, and healthy sleep will all help you build the physical and hormonal resilience you will need so that you don’t enter perimenopause already in burnout.
Forge bonds with older women
Nothing matches wisdom borne of experience. We have lost continuity in the generational transmission of women’s wisdom. So many of our mothers were not able to move through their own menopause in an empowered way, and those mother daughter conversations have been silenced. Talk to your mother, but also talk to other older women. Be curious.
Equip ourselves with knowledge
Every woman should understand the facts about our female hormonal journey through life. Books like Christiane Northrup’s Wisdom of Menopause are not just for women already in menopause. I read this book for the first time when I was in my mid-thirties, and the knowledge gained has been invaluable.
Change our minds
We all need to begin to view menopause as a positive transformation. It saddens me to see young women turning away from the subject of menopause with looks of disgust and dread. If we are lucky enough to live into our forties, we will experience menopause. It belongs to all of us as women, just as menarche and our bleeding years do. Menopause is an initiation into wisdom, to be experienced with pride, power, and excitement.