Did you have a coming-of-age party when you started your period?
In my home growing up, we did. I remember my mom made it a whole celebration with a special lunch and an afternoon of shopping—pretty much my favorite things to do as a pre-teen girl. My mom wanted me to associate this transitional time of my life with positivity even though, at the time, I was pretty uncomfortable… what with puberty and all that.
Does that sound familiar?
Perimenopause is like second puberty and finally getting through menopause is like finally getting your period. So why don’t we celebrate it the same way?
The Power of Stigma
The truth is, a lot of women struggle during perimenopause and menopause. The symptoms can be brutal, of course, but for many of us, it’s the implications of menopause that really hold us back. After all, we live in a patriarchal society that likes to associate a woman’s worth with her youth. Now, as grown women with years of accomplishments behind us, we know that’s B.S. rooted in both sexism and ageism. A human being’s value has nothing to do with their age or their fertility. In fact, many women would argue that they feel higher self-esteem with age and experience compared to the foolish and insecure girls they used to be.
Yet the burden of societal expectations can get even the best of us down. And that’s why many women suffer during perimenopause and menopause. The stigma around menopause has real power to affect a woman’s state of mind and how she experiences this natural transition in general. After all, if you’re told something is horrible repeatedly, you’re going to experience it horribly.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy… but not one we must step into without a fight.
Not All Bad
Instead of deciding that menopause must be terrible and shameful (and then feeling terrible and ashamed), why don’t we celebrate this life transition the same way we celebrate with our daughters as they enter their menses years? After all, life is a privilege, and we should be grateful for and celebrate every year and milestone.
More importantly, choosing to celebrate menopause is a way to shift our collective mindset concerning the topic. Yes, we can’t escape the reality of symptoms, but with modern medical advances, we are better equipped to deal with them than we ever have been before. Whether you choose HRT, microbiome support, or any other method of symptom relief, you should do whatever you need to do to relieve yourself from suffering during menopause, no matter how minor the symptom.
Many women experience menopause as incredibly freeing. In The Upgrade: How the Female Brain Gets Stronger and Better In Midlife and Beyond, neuroscientist Dr. Louann Brizendine explains how menopause allows women to escape the tumultuousness of fertile hormones that create “urges, obsessions, and delusions around relationships and intimacy.” Without all that mental chaos, you come out on the other side with a newfound sense of clarity and self-esteem. Dr. Brizendine writes that without all that hormonal chaos, the brain is “free to explore and expand intellectually and emotionally.” Dr. Brizendine also notes that women who’ve gone through the menopause transition show less of a desire to people-please. Instead, she says compassion and joy increase, curiosity takes center stage, and “a new ease takes over, even in difficult moments.”
Now doesn’t that sound like something to celebrate?