Don’t Tell Me There’s Nothing to Tell

Posted By on August 2, 2010

Cooties Alert: men, if you’re squeamish, you might want to look away. This is pure woman stuff.

I bought the book because its title was clever, but also because it echoed what I keep saying: Is it hot in here? Or is it me? Subtitled The Complete Guide to Menopause, it seemed like the right book to have in my house. I promptly put it neatly in a bookcase and forgot about it. That is, until today. After a crazy 6-week cycle and wondering if I was pregnant, to be followed by a surprise visit from Aunt Flo and a hot flash that nearly had me passing out at Wal-Mart, the book caught my eye this afternoon, and it was time to start reading it.

I’m not very far into it, but I like what I’m seeing so far. The authors say, in the introduction, “We went to our local bookstores looking for a guide to this confusing new phase of our lives, but everything we scanned seemed to be either about one woman’s experience or a testament to one expert’s opinion. We wanted a balanced, scientific, and comprehensive view, the menopausal equivalent of What to Expect when You’re Expecting.” When I read this, I was hooked. Suddenly I remembered the last book I’d picked up on the subject, and why I had put it back down. Most of it focused on two points: “Menopause is a healthy phase, so take your hormones and get on with it!” and “You should just be happy that your kids have moved out and now you can start a new career.”

Well, I’m not necessarily convinced about the hormones, and my youngest child is 2 years old; so neither of these points really hit home with me. That author, who did have reasonable qualifications, was writing about a “universal” experience by using her own preconceived notions as the sole anecdotal directive. I am not 50, I am 43. I do not have 2.2 kids, I have 8. I am both an old mother and a young mother, and I needed something a bit more inclusive if it was going to be relevant to me. I wanted less advice about hormones and careers, and more solid information about what to expect when I’m expecting hot flashes.

I can’t tell you a whole lot about this book at this point, but I am glad that the authors are seeking to do something differently from the book that I tried to read before. And I am always glad when one more book on the subject is written, because it is today’s dark subject. There was a time when mothers were reluctant to tell their daughters about s-e-x. It was too uncomfortable a topic, I guess. Now, people treat menopause that way. Mothers who didn’t go through it the traditional way (maybe they had a hysterectomy or some medical condition) are hard pressed to tell their daughters what to expect. Some daughters don’t have access to their mothers, and don’t have older sisters to ask. And some just never get around to the conversation. It’s still too uncomfortable. But we need to talk. We women deserve to know what is happening to us, and what is going to happen, and how long it might take.

We have questions! How do we tell the difference symptomatically between a perimenopausal missed cycle and a missed cycle due to pregnancy? What are the odds of becoming pregnant at this time in our lives? Are there tests that can tell us where in this process we are? And so on.

There are also personal questions we should be asking. If we have mothers or older sisters available, we need to learn to be less shy about it. Your assignment, ladies, is this. If you have already been through it, please talk to your daughters or granddaughters about it. Tell them what it was like, and don’t be afraid to answer messy questions. Information from a relative may be more helpful than information from a stranger, because some patterns are genetic. If you haven’t been through it, ask. You will go through it, so be prepared with information ahead of time.

Women need to get over their fear of discussing these “private things.” It happens to 50% of the population… how private can it be? We need to know that, like pregnancy, breast cancer, and s-e-x, this is something we have a right to know about.


3 Responses to “Don’t Tell Me There’s Nothing to Tell”

  1. oyveydoiSOnotfeelcomfortableleavingmynameonthisthread says:

    I am 44, my kids range in age from 3 to 20 and I’m starting to have some questions along these lines as well. So glad I found your site! I’m one of those who doesn’t really have anyone to ask, so I’ll be looking into the book you mentioned.

    I wonder if menopause is a “forbidden subject” in our culture because of the over-emphasis on eternal youth and beauty. Curious, eh?

  2. I wonder that too, “Oyvey.” I also wonder if it has something to do with that uncomfortable subject, menstruation. But really, it’s so much broader a subject than that!

  3. Jenny says:

    I’m going to look out for that book, sounds just what I need too! It certainly shouldn’t be a forbidden subject. Menopause needs to be shared and discussed as so many of us feel uncomfortable and ‘not normal’ with some of the weird things that happen to us as we age.

    I’m 44 and have no kids and thought that was why I started peri menopause early as my sister who is 3 years older and has 5 kids hasn’t had one sign yet! I guess everyone’s different!

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