Random Thoughts from a Woman in Perimenopause
Just thinking out loud...
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WHAT A WEEK
Hope you had an incredible week. I can’t wait to share mine with you in the weeks ahead. Right now, I’m still decompressing + reflecting from the whirlwind.
As you know, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. as part of an advocacy group to encourage members of Congress to support several bills that address the lack of regulation in personal care products - banning harmful chemicals, increasing transparency in the supply chain + protecting vulnerable communities.
I learned SO much. It was incredible! I’m not sure how I am going to recap all of it into practical information you can apply to your day-to-day life. But, I am committed to doing so in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned!
THINGS TO EXPLORE
When I started The LIFT, I wanted to focus this newsletter on the topic of aging - aging well, aging differently. I have been fascinated with women’s health (particularly as it relates to perimenopause + menopause) for decades. I don’t know what the fascination is or where it started. I’ve read dozens of books + articles throughout the years. And now, at 53, I am getting to live the experience first-hand. It’s exciting!
This stage of life is as pivotal as puberty. The way your body changes. Your hormones. Your sexuality. Your identity. Your place in the world.
I find it really bizarre that we talk so little about it, other than an occasional joke about hot flashes or brain fog.
I also find it bizarre that we, as a culture, try to either ignore or resist this stage. Like we are supposed to ‘stay the same’ or something. I mean, can you imagine telling a young girl to resist puberty? To stay a girl. Not let your body change. How bizarre would that be? And yet, we kind of do that to ourselves. To each other. Right?
I wish I could ask my grandma about her experience in the years surrounding her menopause. I know it wasn’t too long ago that women were often labeled ‘crazy’ during this stage. We treated it all like a mental illness rather than a physical stage of life.
I would also love to know how symptoms have changed or stayed the same for women over the decades. Which symptoms have been around for centuries + which ones are new due to stress, environmental toxins + modern life? I don’t know if that history exists?
The other thing that doesn’t exist? Medical studies.
Medical studies have traditionally focused on men’s health + use male subjects. We are just beginning to recognize that you can’t treat women like ‘smaller men’ when extrapolating results from studies.
Until recently, women have been pretty invisible after 50. There isn’t a lot of science around this stage of life, which is crazy considering any woman who lives long enough gets to menopause at some point.
The same is true for common diseases. I guess when it comes to medical studies there is not a lot of interest in studying ‘old women’. It’s like once we are past our reproductive years - who cares?
Of course, medical studies are not the only place we have been invisible.
Do you remember Nielsen ratings (the system that tracked TV viewers for advertisers)? Did you know they only tracked information on women up to age 54. After 54, women just didn’t exist. They didn’t count. How’s THAT for invisible?!
Speaking of TV, do you remember the TV show “All in the Family”? I recently read an article about how the writers addressed the topic of menopause with the character “Edith” + how groundbreaking that was. I need to see if I can find that episode on YouTube.
These days, advertisers are waking up to the business opportunity in serving women over 50. Guess we are making a name for ourselves as a newly discovered market! We make our own money + live longer than men. The marketplace can’t help but see dollar signs when they see ‘older women’ these days. (Or at least it’s starting to trend that way.)
DOTS TO CONNECT
I realize this is a random dump of thoughts + doesn’t follow my normal format for The LIFT. I am just thinking out loud + wanted to share these thoughts with you before I dig deeper in exploration.
This week really got me thinking about my age group + where we are missing in important conversations.
Part of my D. C. trip included a science symposium with a panel of doctors + experts in environmental health. They discussed the impact of endocrine disruptors + toxic chemicals on fertility + health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease + more. The panel addressed the importance of reducing exposures during pivotal stages of development - primarily prenatal + puberty.
What about menopause?
I can’t help but wonder what the impact of these exposures is during the years leading up to menopause considering it is a period of time where there are significant hormonal + physical changes.
When asked, the panel confirmed that there haven’t been many studies on women in + around menopause - period - but, especially related to this topic of endocrine disruptors + toxic exposures. Once again, we continue to be invisible.
PATHS TO CARVE
My generation might be the first to start to appear on the radar in the years surrounding menopause + beyond. We talk about it more than previous generations + more women are working in science + medicine, which will lead to more research + data.
I feel like my daughters will have a very different experience when they reach this stage. But, only if my generation is actively participating in these conversations, these studies + in the businesses that emerge to address the gaping void in the marketplace.
I truly hope that women are the ones that end up developing the solutions. We know us best.
What do you think? Do you want to talk about that stuff here? Do you want me to share what I’m learning in relation to women’s health? Would you join the discussion + share your experiences in some capacity? Either through comments, discussion threads or one-to-one? Maybe a private group?
Let me know your thoughts. We’ve been sharing this space here every week since last fall. Maybe we can put it to use for the larger good.
Meanwhile, if you have been reading or researching + have something you’d like to share from your own experience in perimenopause, please let me know.
And, if you are on the other side of menopause, I’d love to hear what you wish you had known when you were going through it. Would you share?
See you next week?