The Happiness Connection  

Memory and menopause

Did you see that movie (long pause) about the queen?

You know, the one that stars (another pause) that actress who was in (yet another pause) that series about the murder?

For anyone who is trying to guess what movie my friend was referring to; it was The Favourite. Olivia Colman played Queen Anne. She was also in the English version of Broadchurch.

Does a conversation full of pauses and desperate attempts to find a name or word that insists on eluding you, sound familiar?

At first,  I wondered if I was experiencing early onset dementia. I relaxed a little when I realized that many of my girlfriends were having similar problems.

The chance of us all having Alzheimer’s was remote.

When I can’t think of a word, family and friends try to help me by offering vocabulary suggestions. Often they give me a similar word that works, but I know it isn’t the one I was searching for.

It’s as if the word is right there, but wearing camouflage that makes it difficult for my brain to pick out.

It was during a conversation like the one at the beginning of this piece that my friend and I got onto the topic of menopause. Why? Because having difficulty with your memory, especially when it comes to words, is a common struggle during this time of hormonal change.

There are three stages of menopause.

Peri-menopause is the time leading up monthly periods ending. This usually begins when women are in their forties, but can be earlier or later.

When periods have been absent for 12 months, you are considered to have reached menopause. You might think that is the end of the matter, but it isn’t. Once you reach menopause, you progress to post-menopause.

This is when some symptoms lessen. Some disappear completely in four or five years. Others last for a decade or more. There are some that never go away

You’ve probably heard about hot flashes and night sweats, but those aren’t the only symptoms that appear as estrogen levels decline.

I found a list of 34 Symptoms of Menopause. How can there be so many, and why had I never heard of many of them?

Let me share a few of them with you.

  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain – menopausal arthritis is a real condition
  • Burning tongue – pain can be widespread in your mouth including tongue, lips, roof of mouth, and cheeks
  • Electric shocks – you may experience more of these, especially just before a hot flash
  • Digestive problems – including bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, flatulence, weight gain, and nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Itchy skin – the result of thinner and dryer skin
  • Anxiety – as many as one in three women experience this
  • Fatigue – extreme tiredness affects about 25% of women during these years
  • Hair loss
  • Sleep disorders – as many as 61% of women experience insomnia during the years from peri to post menopause
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory lapses – fortunately this appears to be temporary and will apparently rectify when menopause is over
  • Unexplained dizziness
  • Stress incontinence – also a symptom of aging
  • Allergies – you may discover you have reactions to things that have never been a problem before
  • Irregular heartbeat – don’t assume this is menopause. Get checked by a doctor if this happens
  • Panic disorder
  • Irritability

You may think this is a woman only conversation, but it isn’t. This is important for anyone who’s life intersects with women in their forties, fifties, and sixties. Severity of symptoms and how long they last varies widely, but accepting it may a challenging time, is important for life partners, employers, and colleagues.

Consider how much of the workforce is made up of women who may be going through hormonal change.

Traditionally, this topic has been kept quiet. You might be suffering from headaches, depression, and sudden hot flashes, but ‘women’s issues’ were kept private from the corporate work environment.

Things are changing. This is a health condition that makes it difficult for many women to carry on as normal. Some sail through it, but those who suffer need to be able to talk openly about it and be given support.

Sometimes it can be as simple as supplying desk fans for anyone who needs some cooling down from time to time.

The first step is to raise awareness of the situation, whether it is at home or work. Be knowledgeable, compassionate, and open.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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