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So many women, specifically Black women, suffer in silence during their transition into menopause. It could be that they’re embarrassed, ill-informed, uninformed, or just don’t know where to start when it comes to looking for answers to what their body is going through.
A few women have said to me that they feel betrayed by their body. Some say they feel blindsided by what their body is doing. This lets me know that we are not being well-educated in our younger years of what to expect of our bodies when we go through this transition.
Going through menopause is more than just reaching the end of your childbearing years and dealing with hot flashes. It’s the beginning of life with no periods, a new level of fluctuating hormones, vaginal and vulva dryness, losing interest in sex, gaining weight, shedding hair, mood swings, excess sweating, fatigue, and many more symptoms.
We throw the word ‘menopause’ around pretty loosely when referring to the symptoms we’re dealing with when we reach a certain age. We’re usually perimenopausal when we’re dealing with these symptoms, which is the second stage of menopause. Technically speaking, however, we are only in actual menopause for ONE DAY! It’s the one day where you have gone an exact 365 days with no period. We actually go through four stages of menopause throughout life.
The Stages of Menopause
Usually begins in your early teens (but could occur sooner or later, depending on when you got your first period), and lasts until somewhere between your early 40s to mid-50s (depending on when your body starts showing menopausal symptoms). In a healthy female, the hormones of your reproductive system direct your body to have a regular, monthly cycle. This first stage of menopause begins at puberty and ends when you begin having ‘menopausal symptoms’.
-You know how this goes: periods, PMS, breast tenderness, cramps, irritability, mood swings, and PREGNANCY!
When the quality and quantity of eggs you have remaining start to decrease, the better term for this is a ‘diminishing ovarian reserve’. In this stage you will have consistently inconsistent fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, causing the nuisance that we call ‘menopause symptoms’, including mood swings, irregular periods, night sweats, hot flashes, loss of libido, and vaginal dryness. There are actually 34 symptoms of menopause, but not all women will experience all of the symptoms.
When you have gone without a period for 12 consecutive months, establishing the end of your reproductive years. The average age at menopause is 51, but some say Black women reach menopause earlier, with an average age of 49. Technically speaking, menopause is this one day. This is it….you made it! Now a new chapter begins…
The day after you have transitioned into menopause. The symptoms you had during your perimenopausal years may still affect you in this stage, in addition to new health issues you may encounter. These include frequent UTIs, incontinence, osteoporosis, heart disease, and painful sex (also known as dyspareunia).
If your childhood and teenage years robbed you by not informing you of what your body was going to go through later in life, I hope this gave you a little insight on your current stage of menopause and what to expect when you reach the next stage of your reproductive cycle. We will continue to explore these stages so you can be more informed and better prepared to be your own feminine health advocate.
Brooklyn is a Post-Partum/Mother-Baby and Pediatric Registered Nurse, turned stay-at-home mom, who is making it her mission to keep women informed on how their individual bodies work, so that they can be their own feminine health advocate when something is 'off' for them. All bodies are different, and women need to know that what's normal for others may not be normal for them, and vice versa. She has personally battled with vaginal and vulva dryness and has gone through multiple treatments, medications, and even surgery to find relief. It started in her mid-20's which made talking to friends and family difficult, since they couldn't relate. She is focused on helping women find relief and stop them from suffering in silence.
This was very informative!
I feel like I’m going through perimenopause. It actually started when I turned 41 this year. I wanted to know what can I use to lesson the hot flashes.