Speaking In Tongues (or What They Don’t Tell You About Menopause)

Menopause is exactly what the term implies: A ceasing of menstruation and a natural decline in reproductive hormones, usually when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s.

Sounds simple right? A normal part of life. A few hot flashes. A little less sleep. At least that’s what doctors, clinicians, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals share in their consultations and little brochures. So, let me share what every woman who’s traveled to the other side of “the change” already knows – and wishes she’d known from the start.

Picture this: You’re in a meeting (business or otherwise, it makes no difference). You’ve come completely prepared with a detailed agenda, a 10-minute presentation and you’re best game face. You look good. You feel great. Your confidence is high and all is well. Then right in the middle of your presentation, you have a hormone dip. You don’t know that’s what it is. You just know that everything you were going to say now looks and sounds like Greek – and Greek is not your first language.

A wave of confusion rushes over your entire body and, in particular, your brain. Your audience has noticed you’ve slowed down a bit and you begin to break out in a sweat (not to be confused with hot flashes) out of real fear you’re unable to continue. You’ve just experienced what the experienced call the Speaking In Tongues part of menopause.

What to do? Quick maneuver: Look up, tell your audience you left an important note on your desk and ask for five minutes. Step outside or anywhere there might be a little fresh air and take a couple of very deep breaths. You now know what this is and it cannot scare you again. Go back inside, start where you left off and remember that millions of other smart women have been in your pumps.

Another highlight the health pros don’t often share: You may experience bleeding – a menstrual bleed – at any time while you’re winding down this journey. It can come without warning, with no cramping, no achy or tired feeling, no symptoms at all. So, stash tampons and pads everywhere – in your office desk drawer, your car’s glove compartment, your suitcase or carry-on, your backpack and everyday purse.

Of course, you’ll hear a lot about hot flashes, but what you don’t hear is that you can get them at night while you’re sleeping. They’re not devastating or life threatening. Just plain uncomfortable and annoying.

The good news is it ends. The other good news is that there are lots of new ways to handle the symptoms including acupuncture, yoga and meditation. You’ll find a couple of great directories in our Health + Wellness Resources. You might also check with your doctor to discuss if hormone replacement therapy is right for you.

Did I miss anything? We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Please share them with us and other readers by clicking the Comments link.

Editor’s Note: In celebration of our first anniversary, 360Women is republishing a few of our favorite and/or most popular blogs from the past year; posts that you may have missed the first time around.  This one was first published on September 21, 2015.

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Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini is the founder of 360Women and a life-long advocate of women’s issues, political activism, social volunteerism, organizational accountability and personal responsibility. A graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Non-Profit Management, she’s not only served on the boards and executive teams of some of the most respected health organizations in the Bay Area, but built a successful second career as one of the most respected realtors in the market. She can be reached at leeann@360women.net.

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