Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

For those of you not lucky enough to have gone under the knife and had all your girly parts removed in one fell swoop, causing an immediate onset of menopause in all its glory, it will likely sneak up on you somewhere in your mid-40s if not sooner. (I went the full hysterectomy route five years ago).

Menopause means “absence of periods for 12 months.” Perimenopause signifies the beginning of the body’s change, where many of the symptoms, including irregular periods, begin. In addition to hot flashes, night sweats, and irritability, other common symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, memory loss, and dryness (skin and vaginal).

Menopause is a highly individualized experience, but one thing all women should know: menopause causes the risk of heart disease to increase dramatically, so if you are in your 30s (when perimenopausal symptoms can begin) or your 40s (when perimenopausal symptoms are in full swing) or in your 50s (when the onset of menopause is imminent) there is no better time to focus on your health.

Work with your doctor to determine whether or not hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the right choice for you; while HRT can help reduce the risk of heart disease and weight gain, it can increase the likelihood of certain cancers. There are natural supplements available to help ease the symptoms of menopause as well, and lubricants and estrogen creams that can aid in lubrication.

The best thing you can do for your changing body, however, is to focus on your health. Choose healthy foods and regularly exercise. Find time to meditate. Prioritize you.