My First Menopausal Moment

The dictionary defines menopause as "The period of cessation of menstruation, occurring usually between the ages of 45 and 50. Also called "change of life."

The problem with this definition is that it doesn't define the meaning of "change of life." No one tells you how long menopause lasts--- The doctors politely tell you that if you're experiencing some of the symptoms, you are merely pre-menopausal. Nor do they tell you how long this period of hell can last.

My so-called symptoms started a week after my 40th birthday when I woke five pounds heavier. No, I did not binge on Krispy Kreme donuts or Papa John's pizza. I ate normally and exercised regularly, but over the years the weight kept piling on.

There were other little signs of a mid-life invasion: waking more frequently at night to pee, body aches, irregular periods, constipation, fatigue and general crabbiness (just ask my family).

Rather than calling it a "change of life" --- this sounds like a gentle transition from one happy place to another WHICH IT IS NOT -- the experts should call it the SUCKY PHASE OF LIFE you just have to tough out until you're too old to notice or care.

Who came up with the name menopause in the first place? Men? They have nothing to do with this---except maybe the part about dealing with their wife's rapid hormone changes. Sort of like living with a Jekyl and Hyde spouse. Men-o-pause is not a happy word like "Barrel-O-Beer" or "Bucket-O-Shrimp." Men do not "pause" for anything.

This awful phase in life should be called "Women-O-Pause," because every woman deserves a big pause from life when they are going through these symptoms!

If younger women can get away with erratic behavior due to PMS-ing, then we older women deserve a break for our sudden, verbal outbursts and tears, high electric bills (Is it warm in here or is has the Earth suddenly shifted into a closer orbit to the sun??) and a huge monthly budget for diet aids and gym memberships.

And what about increased dental bills? The doctors didn't warn me about that when they told me I was premenopausal! The surfaces of my teeth began eroding in my early forties. Don't get me wrong---I have nice teeth (Thanks mom and dad for all that orthodontic work in the 70's!) and I am religious about their upkeep. But sometime in my 40s, the situation in my mouth started heading South. Next thing I knew, I needed crowns, gum work, a few root canals and God forbid, a mouth guard. Now that's something for my husband to see every night -- nothing like going to bed with a linebacker in full gear!

I always thought I was the lone wolf sporting a clear appliance across my teeth after the sun went down. But lo and behold, there are others out there who share my pain. Middle-aged women going through menopause and the stress of everyday life! We suppress the hormones raging inside us by clamping our jaws tight, thus causing teeth to crack. We even grind our teeth in our sleep, which wears down the enamel. Dentist see it in middle-aged women all of the time, which explains why there are so many female linebackers crawling into bed each night beside their befuddled husbands.

This is our way of life. Welcome to menopause!

This post was first published at Menopausal Mom.

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