Menopause

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Forty-five

Joyce found these neat doors at the stadium in North Carolina where the Hickory Crawdads play. The Crawdads are a farm team for the Texas Rangers.

This is Iguana Joe’s Caribbean Bar and Grill in Aruba, photographed by Cathy.

Susan took this door at the brand new nail salon near our gym in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

IMG_7189

I found this door when I went back for a check up at the Gynecological Oncology Clinic at the Women’s Hospital at UNC in Chapel Hill. The receptionist told me that someone added the hearts on Valentine’s Day, and they’ve been there ever since.

This is a unisex door at The Scrap Exchange in Durham, North Carolina.

Becky sent these doors from The Fiesta Mexican Grill and Cantina in Oneonta, New York. Hers:

And his:

This is the sign that leads to the ladies room at Bandido’s  Mexican Cafe and Restaurant in Hillsborough. I’ve been there dozens of times but never noticed the sign.

Candace found this door at Fat Boys Crab Shack in Croton, Maryland.

This is a rustic door at the recently renovated Village Diner in Hillsborough.

Candace ran into this funky door at the Rendezvous Tavern in New Orleans. Hers:

And his:

And finally,  Haralee discovered the doggy restroom at the Las Vegas Airport.

A happy woof woof to all of you who contributed doors to this edition of our Ladies Room Door Art Series. Thank you!

Menopause

Birthdays: Are You Happy on Your Birthday?

Birthdays. Lots of people loves them. A few are indifferent. Some have an actual aversion to birthdays. Here’s a thread on Psych Cafe where people discuss how much they hate their birthday and why.

I am in the camp of liking birthdays. I think it’s important to be grateful for our existence. I think it’s lovely to celebrate ourselves. I like presents and cards and flowers and I LOVE cake. Sure, I get a bit freaked out as my birthday numbers creep up, but all in all, I enjoy birthdays for myself, and I love helping others celebrate theirs.

I had a great-aunt who would look at me on my birthday and say in the most sincere voice, “Happy birthday.” Just two words, but she said them in a way that made me understand as a little girl that your birthday is a day of happy significance.

I’ve been painting birthday cakes, and here’s a poem I wrote about birthdays that was published a few years ago:

Before I make a wish

And blow out the candles,

I’ll take this moment

To admire my cake and

To look at the faces around me.

Thank you family

And thank you for friends.

Thank you for cakes

With plenty of frosting

And for one more candle every year.

What about you? Do you like your birthday?

Menopause

Menopause: Only 19% of Women Know What to Expect

talking-about-menopause_0

I’ve written before about the importance of women understanding menopause BEFORE it happens. Had I known more, I would have worried and suffered less.

This info, sent to me by BodyLogicMD, speaks to the perceptions about menopause by both women and men and the actual experiences of women. Here’s the link to the full study. Lots to ponder here. With the permission of BodyLogicMD, I’ve posted it for you:

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she learns about what will happen during puberty. Understanding the dramatic shift to womanhood is an essential part of growing up, and many techniques are used to explain the details of what’s to come as a girl enters her teenage years.

Why then, if educating girls about the first stage of hormonal change is so significant, do we try to keep the inevitable second stage of adulthood so hush-hush? Menopause is a tricky subject for both women and men to understand. Why are so many women and their partners in the dark about the facts on menopause? What are some of the preliminary symptoms? What effect does knowledge have on our overall experience with menopause?

To answer these questions, we conducted a survey consisting of women who’ve experienced menopause, men whose partners have experienced menopause, and women who’ve not experienced menopause. We asked them a range of questions about menopause.

Read on to learn about this extraordinary process of the human body.

What Is Menopause and Why Don’t People Know More About It?

talking-about-menopause_1

Menopause occurs around age 51, on average, when a woman’s natural production of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone decreases. This is characterized by the end of menstrual cycles, the beginning of hot flashes, and a slew of other symptoms. Knowing what’s to come can better prepare women for the next few years of their lives.

Gaining as much knowledge about menopause as possible will help you later in life. Women who’ve not yet experienced menopause were more likely to believe this stage of life was way worse than it actually became. In this case, knowledge is power. Having at least a general idea of what a woman can expect is extremely helpful when understanding these changes firsthand.

For women who’ve experienced menopause in some way, the overall effect menopause had on their lives was less than those who didn’t have a clue about what to expect. We found a correlation menopausal and postmenopausal women’s awareness of what to expect from menopause and the effect it had on their lives.

Positive and Negative Feelings Toward Menopause

Women had a range of emotional responses to menopause, dealing with both maturity and frustration toward what happened to them.

People who didn’t know what to expect scored higher in every negative parameter we included in this survey. Feelings of anger, disgust, shame, and sadness were felt more by those who went into the experience blind than those who knew how to treat and react to the symptoms. However, one parameter was felt by respondents relatively equally: fear. Many women experience anxiety attacks during menopause, due to changing levels of estrogen and progesterone. Being afraid of or anxious about what’s to come is a natural and normal part of menopause, and overcoming those fears is a part of acceptance.

Women who were prepared to acclimate to their new lives with menopause were more likely to experience positive emotional responses. Feelings of femininity and maturity were common among women who were educated about the symptoms versus women who weren’t. This showed a healthy and happy shift of their mental state going into menopause. Acceptance of menopause also offered feelings of healthiness and even relief.

Nearly 53 percent of women who were not informed about menopause were angry, while less than 18 percent of women who knew what to expect felt anger toward these changes. Feelings of anger can induce high levels of anxiety,putting a negative impact on our physical bodies and mental health. This means that, for our mental health’s sake, we ought to value the open discussion of menopause more.

Women who had yet to reach their 40s didn’t begin to think about menopause until many symptoms had already started. Younger women were less likely to think about menopause, as it hadn’t affected them yet. However, eventually, the time will come when thinking about it is almost too little too late to be prepared for symptoms that can come unseen.

The Most Visible Symptom: Hot Flashes

One of the symptoms that aren’t unseen, however, is the hot flash. In fact, it is the most apparent sign that a woman is reaching menopause. Hot flashes are unpredictable and can heavily impact the day-to-day life of a woman undergoing menopause-related changes.

A hot flash begins with an intense feeling rushing to the upper half of the body with sudden overheating, specifically to the face and chest. Lower levels of estrogen in the hypothalamus – the part of the brain that manages sleep, appetite, sex drive, and body temperature – can cause this reaction.

Hot flashes can seem intimidating. However, this interference might not be as dramatic from the other side.

While it seems overwhelming to think about, women who had dealt with hot flashes said they weren’t as life-altering as they thought they’d be. While most women admitted some effect on their day-to-day lives from hot flashes, they reported a low interference in their lives from these episodes. Women who had experienced a hot flash also admitted they weren’t as debilitating as women who hadn’t experienced them predicted these episodes to be.

The most affected part of a menopausal woman’s life is sleep disruption. Across the board in all categories, hot flashes had the highest interference in a woman’s sleep cycle. These issues regarding sleeping specifically during menopause can lead to other issues, such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, and more.

Someone experiencing a hot flash or night sweat for the first time can be terrified. There are many types of hot flashes, but they all have the same general steps: The body becomes weak and overheated, with feelings of dizziness, sweating, nausea, and headaches soon to follow. As we’ve seen regarding sleep, many women can experience hot flashes in the middle of the night.

Mood can also be heavily affected by hot flashes. Among women who have experienced menopause, about 23 percent have dealt with changes in their mood or dramatic shifts in their emotions.

The Symptoms of Menopause, Ranked by Intensity

The anticipation of symptoms is extremely important. Knowing what’s to come will better equip women and their partners for the future. However, it’s important not to allow that knowledge to consume you destructively. Often, what you expect is not nearly as bad as the results turn out to be.

Perception is not always reality. In most cases, women expected menopause to have a larger negative effect on their lives.

One thing the genders disagreed on was how they perceived the emotional response of menopause to affect women. Men rated mood changes and depression as extremely intense and noticeable, while women rated depression 26 percent less intense than they predicted it would be before menopause.

Loss of sex drive and low libido are common reactions to menopause. A decrease in normal levels of testosterone in women may cause a negative change in a woman’s reaction to sexual activity. Dramatic decreases in sex drive can make a woman feel less feminine. Despite all this, the men polled did not see it that way at all.

Infertility Results in Mixed Reactions

One topic regarding menopause that respondents had mixed feelings was about infertility. While there are still risks related to becoming pregnant over age 35, it’s possible to carry a healthy fetus to term. For most women, however, the possibility of having a baby disappears during menopause. Accepting this becomes a fact of life for many.

Almost half of all women who had familiarity with menopause accepted the reality that the time to be a mother was over. Other responses were varied, with a high number of respondents feeling relief and sadness.

Fear is a completely natural part of this experience. Human beings are designed to fear what they cannot control. A staggering two-thirds of women are afraid when even the thought of menopause crosses their minds, showing how few women are prepared for what’s to come. Lately, many have been speaking out publicly about their experiences to encourage more women to fear it less and embrace the changes.

So, What Do We Actually Know About Menopause?

Our survey asked both genders a variety of questions about menopause, and the results spoke to how uninformed we truly are.

On average, neither men nor women were able to pass a quiz related to basic menopause facts, with men scoring around 52 percent and women scoring around 58 percent.

When asked how long perimenopausal symptoms last on average, only 10.5 percent of women and about 20 percent of men answered correctly. The reason behind this could be due to the broad nature of the question. Symptoms can last for shorter or longer than the average of four years, depending on when women start menopause and their body’s response to the symptoms. Interestingly enough, this was the one question men were able to answer correctly more often than women.

As you may have predicted, women answered more questions correctly than men; however, two questions still evaded female respondents: the length of perimenopause (correct answer: four years on average) and a true-or-false question related to estrogen levels and cardiovascular disease (the majority of women incorrectly said higher estrogen levels meant a higher risk for cardiovascular disease).

Menopause and Me

The time to start thinking about menopause is as early as possible. Beginning to research the changes your body will have during menopause is as important as educating young girls about how their bodies change during puberty. Unfortunately, women only really start thinking about menopause until right before the onset of symptoms.

The symptoms of menopause cover a wide range, with changes affecting both the mind and body. Being prepared for this life-altering shift is crucial to accepting your new reality. Treatment is the first option for many. Relief of these symptoms can be found through natural menopause hormone therapy services at BodyLogicMD.

Methodology

We surveyed 149 women experiencing menopause, 151 men whose partners have experienced menopause, and 702 premenopausal women using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Statistical testing was performed on the symptoms of menopause ranked by intensity, and significance was found in each case between predictions from premenopausal women and women experiencing menopause. We found a correlation between menopausal and postmenopausal women’s awareness of what to expect from menopause, and the effect menopause has had on their lives, with a P-value of 0.04. To determine the effect of hot flashes on a woman’s daily life, we used the Hot Flash Related Daily Interference Scale from the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

Sources

 

 

Menopause

What Spells Summer?

My friend Judy brought me a bag of peaches last week when I was recuperating from eye surgery. I was well enough a few days later to slice them up.  As I set the knife into the peach fuzz, I thought:  This is it. This is summer! 

But there are others:

A flash of lightening. Followed by the boom of thunder. We don’t get nearly as many thunderstorms here in North Carolina as I experienced in Baltimore as a girl. I miss them. Dangerous as they are, I love a good thunderstorm.

Water up my nose. I spent hours in the pool as a child. The yucky burn of water up my nose can shoot me back fifty years.

Ice tea. We drank it with sugar and fresh lemon and ONLY in the summer. To get a rise out of Dad, my brother and I would count as we put the sugar in. “Four. Five.”

Dad would look up from his plate, alarmed. ” Don’t you dare put that much sugar in  your tea.”

We’d fess up that we’d  started counting with the number four.

“Oh, okay,” he’d say.

He’d fall for the trick again the next week.

The whir of a fan. I’d wake up to the huge bathroom fan still whirring away. I knew my mother would greet me in the kitchen. I knew I had a day ahead of summer fun of one sort or the other. Life was good.

Summer pajamas. (I once sat on a slug on our porch and felt him squish through my thin pajama bottom.)

Bible school with songs, intriguing crafts (My mom organized the art activities), red punch, and those plain vanilla cookies with a hole in the middle. ( You only got two and they went down fast.)

The Oriole game on Dad’s transistor radio. You could even hear the crack of the bat, which I don’t really understand. How could it be so loud?

Spend the nights with my best friend next door. (I didn’t learn the term “sleepover” until I was a mom.)

Fireflies. Watermelon. Library Books. Sleeveless dresses. Short sets. Arranging flowers from my mother’s garden. Backyard Croquet. 

So how about you? What spells summer?

images

P.S.: My eye surgery went well and was an interesting adventure. I’ll write up a report before too long.

Menopause

Know the Ropes: Giving Advice

long-rope

Cliff thinks I give too much advice, so I’ve been pondering the topic.

Now that I’m of a certain age, I especially love to give advice to young people. I do this because I think I know the ropes. I’ve been around the block a bit. But is the advice welcome? Or is my advice even good advice?

I’ve had people (usually women my own age) come back to me and say, “Barbara, I took your advice…….” (fill in something good that happened to that person). I had one friend say that my advice saved a whole vacation! (Can’t remember what the advice was now–something about how to react to a situation, but I can’t remember what situation.)

But of all the friends, and sometimes strangers, that I’ve given advice to, I don’t know how many I’ve annoyed or upset. Those people are usually too polite to tell you that your advice got on their nerves.

ropes

I often go to others for advice, and in recent years, I’ve worked to be even more open to advice, especially advice that initially makes me bristle. It’s felt liberating to let my guard down and to be more receptive. But I’ve been the victim of condescending and sometimes even cruel advice, so I get why Cliff is urging caution.

When we really know the ropes on a topic, should we give our advice?  Or should we NEVER offer advice unless it’s requested?

Give us your advice, wise friends!

Here’s a great article on the Psychology Today website on the giving of advice.

I snapped these cool rope pictures at a resort in Cabo, Mexico last year. I would never think to decorate with ropes!

Here’s some info on the expression: Know the ropes.

Menopause

Aroused! The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything (A Review and Giveaway

If you’re like me, and you love non-fiction written like an intriguing novel, this is the book for you. And of course, my favorite chapter is the one on estrogen.

Here’s information from the publisher:

Randi Hutter Epstein delivers a guided tour through the strange science of hormones and the age-old quest to control them in Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything (W.W. Norton & Company; June 26, 2018; $26.95).

Metabolism, behavior, sleep, mood swings, the immune system, fighting, fleeing, puberty, and sex: these are just a few of the things our bodies control with hormones. Armed with a healthy dose of wit and curiosity, Randi Hutter Epstein takes us on a journey through the unusual history of these potent chemicals and their discovery, from the London laboratory where the concept of hormones was identified to a basement filled with jarred brains to a canine sex lab. We meet leading scientists who made life-changing discoveries about the hormone imbalances that ail us, as well as charlatans who used those discoveries to peddle false remedies. Along the way, Epstein examines the functions of hormones such as leptin, oxytocin, estrogen, and testosterone, demystifying the science of endocrinology.

A fascinating exploration of the history and science of one of medicine’s most important discoveries, AROUSED reveals how hormones can both push us to the edge and reel us back.

Giveaway: The publisher is giving away two copies of the book. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by August 10. Thanks!

Here’s the Amazon link.

Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D., M.P.H, the author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank, is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and a lecturer at Yale University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and the Psychology Today blog, among other publications. She lives in New York.


Menopause

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Forty-four

Martin photographed these vibrant doors at the Cherry Pit Cafe and Pie Shop in Greensboro, North Carolina.

I found these at Le Pain Quotodien in Brooklyn, New York, where my daughter Laura now lives.

And this lady grins at the Joli Cantina in Brooklyn.

20180310_172709

I found this sign pointing to the restrooms at the Boxcar Bar and Arcade in Durham, North Carolina.

And here’s a bit of graffiti on the ladies room door. Love the pink. That graffiti artist came prepared!

You can find these doors at Nano Taco in Durham.

Torero’s in Durham is a colorful sight to behold. The booths:


The ladies room door:

And the door of the gentlemen’s bathroom:

Claire sent these from her trip to Hawaii.

And these were photographed by friends of Ken, who were also on an  Hawaiian vacation.

 

Mahalo as they say in Hawaiian, to all of you for your help with my Ladies Room Door Art Series. It’s hard to believe that this is my forty-fourth post.

Onward!