Deanna Pizitz, 55, is a health and life coach who focuses on helping women be healthy as they age.
Three years ago I asked my doctor to take out my IUD. The average age of menopause is 51. So, I figured I was probably menopausal and didn’t need it anymore. I thought maybe I hadn’t noticed any symptoms of “the change” because of the hormones in my IUD. But after running some blood tests to confirm my suspicion, my doctor told me I wasn’t in menopause yet. I was shocked. My husband joked that he wouldn’t touch me until I got my IUD back in, which made me laugh—I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to get pregnant at 52.
A year later, I went back to my doctor and had my hormones tested again. It was official: I was in menopause. I know a lot of women feel nervous or upset when they start menopause, but I didn’t feel that way. Instead, I almost felt like it was a rite of passage.
I’ve had some unpleasant symptoms, though.
One of the biggest is belly fat. My stomach had always been pretty flat in the past—I used to gain weight in my hips and thighs—and suddenly that changed. I’ve always been a healthy eater, but I needed to be even more mindful of what I ate to feel comfortable in my skin again.
I also experienced hot flushes and I still have them occasionally. I notice them more when I don’t eat as well as I can. So, I now eat less sugar and more vegetables. Sugar is a big problem for me and, if I indulge too much, it’s pretty much a given that I’m going to have hot flushes afterward. I carry peppermint oil around with me, too. If I start having a hot flush, rubbing it into the palms of my hands and dabbing it behind my neck helps me feel cooler.
“My libido has dropped, and that’s frustrating since I’ve always felt like a sexual being.”
Menopause has impacted my sex life, as well. My libido has dropped, and that’s frustrating since I’ve always felt like a sexual being. I also have a lack of lubrication that comes and goes, and it can make sex uncomfortable at times. That’s a big problem. You still want to feel sexy when you’re going through menopause but, let’s face it: If you don’t have any lubrication or desire, it can be tough.
Since going through “the change,” I’ve changed to a female obstetrician-gynaecologist who seems to understand menopause more. She put me on bioidentical hormones, which are man-made hormones that are designed to help raise the levels of oestrogen and progesterone in my body and lessen the side effects of menopause. I really think my medication—along with my diet and lifestyle changes—has been key to me feeling as good as I do at 55. Sure, things aren’t quite how they were before I went through menopause, but I’m starting to feel comfortable in my own body again.
Life isn’t over with menopause.
I work with menopausal women as a health and life coach, and I feel frustrated with the way our society views menopause. Oh, and the myths! Don’t get me started on those. We’re told that we just have to accept the way that our bodies respond, but there are options, including finding the right medical care provider for you. I have several clients who say that they’ve gone to their doctors to talk about their weight, lack of lubrication, or hot flushes, and they’re basically told to just accept it and sent away. That’s a problem.
“I always thought, ‘Man, you’re old when you hit menopause,’ but it can be a really fun time in your life.”
When I was younger, I always thought, ‘Man, you’re old when you hit menopause,’ but the reality is that it can be a really fun time in your life. Maybe you’re an empty nester and have more free time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do, or you’re more established in life. People tend to think their lives are over when they hit menopause, but that’s not true at all.
I want women to view menopause as a time to learn more about themselves. Instead of feeling bad about going through this natural phase of life and being upset about the symptoms, be more intentional about your choices. Learn more about your body and what does and doesn’t work for you, whether it’s with food, exercise, or sex—and then focus on the positives over the negatives.
I really believe that if you can reframe the way you think about menopause, it can be an amazing time in your life.