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Linda Russell
From Live Better America
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What My Mom Never Told Me About Menopause

There was a time in my life when jeans and money were tight, and I was proud to be called, or at least thought of, as a hottie. With the onset of menopause, my jeans are again tight but my hotness is not the attractive kind.

Which brings me to the middle chapters of my lifebook. Why, I ask, is the term "menopause?" Isn't "womenopause" more accurate? "Menopause" sounds like women are supposed to be taking a break from men, which can indeed be an offshoot of all the sweating, bloating, drying out and sleep loss women on said "pause" are going through.

To be honest, the only man I'm currently interested in is a little grand one who just turned 1. His presence reminds me that, although I cannot bear more children, that's probably a good thing, seeing as I forget at least once a week where my car is parked. Were women my age to give birth, we would need a "Where did I put my baby?" phone app.

I accept that my eggs are dead or dying; however, I don't see why they have to fry. Why must the transition, with its hot flashes and insomnia and memory issues, be so brutal? Change is hard, and uncontrollable change within one's own body is even harder.

There has to be a way to manage this change with grace, and I sense that it's by not sweating it out alone. Entering "menopause support" online turns up innumerable chat rooms and support groups, a phenomenon that didn't exist for my mother. We didn't talk about our bodies or women's things in my family, so the concept of commiseration and maybe even occasional celebration is new to me.

My mother and grandmothers all lived in the same small town and, although I grew up nurtured by excitedly whispered gossip in their kitchens, the words "sex" and "menopause" were never uttered. My mother was barely able to hand me the menstruation booklet that came free with pads; mentoring my menopause journey was nowhere in her library.

The best support has come from the women friends with whom I have grown older. My book club has been together since our now-grown children were kindergarteners. We shared child rearing, school choices, college hunting, parent funerals and grandchildren stories. Now we share estrogen creams and soy additives, sources for fans and waterproof makeup.

My mentoring advice? Talk and talk and talk to the women in your existing circles: your tennis partners, yoga buddies or baristas.

Menopause needs to be a natural discussion we have with our friends, partners and, especially, our daughters. A generation from now those online websites will be just one of many forums for discussion and support. A healthy acceptance plus a record of how and when and what one's mother went though during menopause should be a part of family health records, not an unspoken secret.

So, womenpausers, speak up and speak out.

Where do you turn for information about and support for the "pause?"

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