Sunday, April 1, 2007

Not ready to be put out to pasture?

Not ready to be put out to pasture?
Inside Jolie's Head - 4/1/2007

Years before the end of your periods, a woman goes through a transitional time that is called perimenopause. This transition - puberty in reverse - occurs as your hormones are gearing down from the high levels needed to reproduce. This transition can take between a year and 10 years, but averages about three years. After a full year without a period, a woman is proclaimed menopausal.

Hormonal changes are responsible for the onset of perimenopause. As a woman reaches the end of her childbearing years, production of her ovarian hormones begins to fluctuate. During perimenopause, many cycles are annovulatory (do not include ovulation) and estrogen levels can sharply rise and then quickly drop. This causes menstrual periods to become shorter, then more and more irregular until they stop.

In the United States, the average age of menopause is 51.

Health A to Z


As a 44-year-old woman, I'm experiencing a very interesting period in my life. Specifically - perimenopause. I'm early. Many women don't get a taste of this until they are in their 50's. Indeed, my girlfriend, who is three years older than me, recently said to me, "this is something I have to look forward to."

For me, it's been a reality check. I've always felt young, but am I really? Are you young when you're dealing with hot flashes, mood swings, missed periods, skin changes and weight gain?

It's easy to feel sorry for yourself. It's easy to give up - eat whatever you want, stop exercising, lay around and surrender. But what if you're not ready for the pasture? What if you still would like to feel vibrant and sexy even if you're middle aged? It's possible.

For me, it's not about looking good for a man. It's about feeling good for myself. It's about not letting the affects of perimenopause stop me in my tracks.

So, these are the five things that I intend to focus on. I'm no doctor, but I believe they will be good for me and help me to feel as healthy, and as sexy, as I can:

1. Exercise - I've always exercised, but recently I've stopped because I've been wallowing in self pity. Why exercise when you're putting on weight faster than you can take it off? (That middle aged spread really comes into play during the stages of perimenopause, at least for me. ) But, I've decided to snap out of it and get back to the gym. I know that when I get there, and get back into moving my body, my body will feel better. Will I ever be a size 5 again? Probably not, but I'm 44 not 24.

2. Reduce the caffeine - Because I'm a writer, this one will be hard for me. "She died from a lack of sleep and too much coffee." I can see that on my tombstone. But hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause are aggravated by caffeine, so it's best, at least for me, to reduce it or avoid it. When I drink coffee, I'm much more likely to get hot flashes.

3. Put soy in my cereal instead of cow's milk - Recently I've returned to cow's milk. I'm not sure why. I always drank soy before and now I'm going to return to it. Soy is good for women experiencing perimenopause because soy is a plant-based estrogen.

4. Drink lots of water - When I drink water, I feel better. It doesn't matter what age I am. I've always felt better when I drink water. I find the best thing for me to do is to keep bottles of water with me. That way I'm more likely to reach for it. (Maybe it's something about the bottle.) Water flushes me out and keeps me feeling hydrated and fresh.

5. Bring on the fruits and vegetables - As with water, I always feel better when I eat a piece of fruit or a green leafy salad.

Jolie du Pre is an author of lesbian erotica and erotic romance.
(Music for 4/1/2007 blogging - Fiona Apple.)

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