Our Bodies, Our Lives
By Drs. Tristi Muir and Catherine Hansen

Not all women realize they are menopausal. Many women go through midlife changes without needing to seek medical advice or noting any problems at all.

If you are in this category, don’t worry about your lack of symptoms and don’t go looking for answers to questions you don’t have.

There is no need to test your hormones or start any medications. But some of the following advice might help to maximize your preventive health strategies as you negotiate menopause gracefully.

Menopause, by definition, is one full year without a period. The process leading up to that point can last up to 10 years.

Since the average age of menopause is 51 years, the entire process can begin in a woman’s early 40s.

The most bothersome complaints of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and bladder changes.

Some women also notice memory or cognitive decline, insomnia with or without night sweats, generalized fatigue, joint and muscle aches and pains, unstable mood and decreased libido. We suspect the latter two might be related.

While all of this might sound horrible, many women gently and gracefully welcome the changes in their bodies that signify a new era for them and their partners.

Along with a leveling off the hormones comes greater patience, inner peace and a calm presence not previously known during the chaotic reproductive years and the rocky perimenopause.

Our brains become ready to refocus inward and redirect our energy to new frontiers now that children have grown and careers are well underway.

Women today spend more than one-third of their lives in menopause, and with a little guidance from within, these can be our most satisfying years.

Our Bodies, Our Lives focuses on issues surrounding women's sexual, gynecological and emotional health. Drs. Tristi Muir and Catherine Hansen are gynecologists at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Learn more information at utmbhealth.com/pelvichealth.