Menopause is a natural biological process that is inevitable for all women. It marks the end of menstruation and reproductive years, and often comes with a variety of symptoms and changes that can be both physical and emotional. While it may seem daunting to talk about menopause with younger women, particularly daughters, it is essential for them to have an understanding of what is ahead and how they can support the women in their lives going through it. In this blog post, we will explore what and why you should tell your daughter about menopause.
The basics of menopause. The first thing you should talk about is what menopause is and what happens during this natural process. Explain to your daughter that as women age, their ovaries stop producing eggs, resulting in a decrease in hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone. This hormonal shift triggers changes in the body, including hot flashes, mood swings, changes in libido, and vaginal dryness. It's also important to inform your daughter about peri-menopause, the period leading up to menopause when symptoms may appear and hormonal changes begin to occur. A great time to bring up the initial conversation is when you discuss puberty. Knowing that menstruation is just one phase in a lifetime and that it will eventually end, may help some young women more easily adjust to the changes happening in their bodies.
Menopause affects more than physical health. While menopausal symptoms may seem like a purely physical issue, it's essential to stress that menopause can also impact a woman's mental health. Many women experience depression, anxiety, and irritability during menopause. Explain to your daughter that these emotional changes are a natural part of the process and that it's essential to seek help if they become overwhelming.
Encourage an open dialogue. Discussing menopause with your daughter should not be a one-off conversation, but rather an ongoing dialogue. Make sure she knows that she can come to you for answers and support as she experiences changes in her body. Likewise, if you are going through menopause, share openly about your experiences and how she can support you. Open communication will help her understand the changes she sees in her mother or other women in her life and will hopefully mitigate the stigma associated with the process.
Discuss potential health risks. While menopause is a natural process, it is also important to discuss the potential health risks associated with it. Women going through menopause have an increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast cancer, among other diseases. Encourage your daughter to take care of her physical health well before menopause sets in, by eating well, exercising regularly, and taking vitamin supplements as needed. Looking after physical health can diminish the risk of health problems that arise during and post-menopausal.
Emphasize positive aspects. Despite the many challenges associated with menopause, it's worth highlighting some of its positive aspects too. Menopause marks a new stage in a woman's life, often bringing newfound freedom and personal growth. Women may find they have more time to focus on their own needs and interests and that their menstrual cycle no longer dominates their life. It is also possible to enjoy sex during menopause, as emotional intimacy, and sexual activity continue to have positive physical, and emotional benefits.
Talk to your sons as well! While you may not go into as many details, raising well adjusted boys who can support the women in their life is part of the job. Taking away the secrecy that has often shrouded womens biological changes will help make these conversations easier for future generations.
It can feel uncomfortable to talk to young people about menopause, but it's essential to have these conversations to prepare them for the natural process ahead and so they can have empathy for others. Encourage open communication, emphasize the positive aspects of menopause, and stress the importance of taking care of one's physical and emotional well-being. The more you discuss menopause, the easier it will be for your daughters and sons to understand and support the women in their life who are going through it.