Menopausal Dilema

Cyndi’s dilemma:  My formerly gregarious mother evaporated into a whisper when I was twelve. She was only 43 when, almost overnight, she changed from a vibrant, healthy young mother into a stooped grandmother-like old lady. She spent all her time in bed or lounging in front of the TV. The only time she left home was to visit her doctor. After Mom died, at 48, my Dad’s sister said it was menopause that killed her. I am 42 and terrified because I feel as if impending menopause will drag me into the same spiral that killed my mother. My doctor keeps saying I have nothing wrong with me but says I must change my attitude or I will make myself sick. My sex drive is high but I worry it will disappear.  A friend told me how you advocate sex as a tool to manage menopause. I desperately need reassurance.



Dear Cyndi,

I suspect that your mother did not discuss sexual issues with you and you learned, as many of us, from observing. Observing our parents is a major way to learn, especially when those parents do not have the talent to educate us about the more delicate issues of life. The little girl that learned from watching and mimicking her mother forms the foundation of your knowledge. We learn more in our first six years than for the rest of our lives. The child that was you learned so much from her mother and a few years later watched her mother wither away and die. You were still a child when an aunt told you your mum died of menopause. Cyndi, your association with your mother’s disease is completely understandable. While you were just beginning your menstrual cycle you were told your mother died when hers ended. Your fears are well-founded in the childhood knowledge that forms your emotional base. As women our menstrual cycle is an extremely emotional event controlled by hormones that regulate our bodies and our minds to prepare us for reproduction. These hormones inevitably slow and the emotional changes are profound.  They are not debilitating.

Personally, my mother went through menopause without a whisper of complaint and today lives alone at 97. I never expected my menopause would be even a minor concern. Regrettably, for the first time in my life my menstrual cycle became an issue and that was when it was on the way out. I want to tell you a bit of my story because there are very profound hormonal changes that take place and when these happen for you I want you to consider enhancing your sexuality to help you deflect your fears. You will hear many stories of women losing their sex-drives during menopause; these will be magnified in your mind by memories of your mother. Do not believe them. It will take more effort on your part but it is possible during menopause to increase your sex-drive. It worked for me. At sixty-four it still does.

Edited from Love is For Sharing:

In the midst of being a sexual commodity I went through menopause. Although some minor symptoms still irritate me – restlessness in the early morning when I’d prefer to sleep and mild hot flashes – the major changes took place during a time of intense sexual exploration before indiscriminate sex became routine for us. There was seldom a time when menopause interfered with my performance or enjoyment of sex when I played and created for clients. The craving for penetration changed into a more subtle desire, but the wish for cuddling and need of reassurance became greater. A desire most of our clients are more than willing to accommodate. They make me feel special and that alleviates many of my symptoms. Menopause could have made it so easy to turn off to sex, but by deliberately, almost forcing myself to become excited, the hormonal changes became much less notable.

I am not trying to put down the irritations of menopause; they are numerous and they are intense. They are, however, life in action, a confusion of hormones, an emotional meltdown; a reason to work harder to maintain equilibrium in this world of programmed impetus. Forcing myself to maintain my sexuality has made me more aware of life. My health has improved because I monitor my diet and exercise religiously. I have become physically stronger. My sex life is full of self-discovery. My sexual pleasure is intense. My confidence is at a peak.

A major lesson from my menopause was the recognition of the intensity of the female hormones. I feel such empathy for my youth, for all the girls of then and now. The female sex drive is enormous. But I had no idea of its true power until I felt mine slow as the estrogens dried up along with the youthful lines of my mouth and eyes. But it isn’t the wrinkles that are permeating; it’s the change of sexual demands. Emotional demands cry out for physical nurturing. The need for sex is no longer stimulated by that incredibly strong procreative drive, it is motivated by a love of self – spiritually, physically and intellectually – and a wish to enjoy the woman we have worked so hard to become.

Best wishes, Anita

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