Lots of things change as women continue on their journey through mid-life. Some, like increased confidence and less worry about what others think, are fantastic aspects, others like unwanted changes in our bodies can be frustrating to deal with. What’s worse? Insensitive comments, such as the one’s I’ve compiled below.
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• Is that a beard? Have you ever considered electrolysis? – The fact is that during the menopause transition, lots of women start to lose the hair on their heads and around their pubic areas (which is probably age related) and at the same time discover alarming new hair growth where we don’t want it! – Our upper lips, chins and necks.
Blame hormonal changes for the thick, coarse hairs that seem to sprout every day. Plucking, waxing, threading are good temporary measures. If the hair is dark then laser will still work. Personally, I have my electrolysis expert on speed dial. She has vanquished both dark and light hairs over many months.
• When’s the baby due? – Really? Did you just ask me that? And, by the way, I’m not amused! The truth is that many women do develop a little extra padding around their middle. I call it, the Meno-Pot-Belly and it’s happens when the hormonal roller coaster that is menopause effects our metabolism, weight distribution and how we burn calories.
Research has shown that our metabolic rate actually decreases! That’s why you can eat the same amount of food and calories, skip dessert and still gain weight. Maintaining a flat tummy without industrial strength Spanx is much much harder now. What to do? Exercise 10-20 minutes more than you do now and increase your intake of vegetables by an added 1-2 servings each day. You’ll feel fuller from the fiber, have better bowel movements, and over time your calorie intake will decrease and help you shed those added pounds.
• I can’t believe you have to use the bathroom again! – Well, believe it because 1 in 3 women experience a little bit of light leakage (stress incontinence) or feel the urge to go much more frequently. Gravity plays a role here, as our bladders tend to migrate lower and lower. This can be much worse for women who have had 1 or more vaginal deliveries.
Fear not and while you’re out buying more absorbent pads, call your health care provider or search on-line for a pelvic floor physical therapy program. These are not your Mother’s Kegels! Seriously, there’s more that can be done now without medication and surgery. My patients are happily surprised that they are lots drier after just a few classes, and others have seen dramatic benefits from individualized treatments from certified pelvic floor physical therapists.
p.s. don’t forget to talk about whether vaginal estrogen might help improve the overall health of your pelvic floor.
Barb Dehn, also known as Nurse Barb is a North American Menopause Certified Menopause Practitioner, sees women in Silicon Valley, lectures at Stanford and is the author of The Hot Guide to a Cool Sexy Menopause.