Yet when it comes, and another biological process begins, like menstruation, science and medicine are just scratching the surface on these major life events that over half the world’s population will experience.
Perimenopause or Menopause: What’s the Difference?Perimenopause refers to the years preceding menopause. Someone isn’t in “menopause” until they have gone one full year without a period. The average age of menopause is 51, but perimenopause can start as early as your mid-thirties. Perimenopause can last up to 10 years and brings with it extreme fluctuations in hormones like estrogen, as the monthly work of the ovaries gradually comes to an end.
At this time, the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) increase their efforts trying to release the aging eggs. These hormonal fluctuations lead to changes in flow volume and frequency (irregular periods), mood swings, panic attacks, brain fog, hot flashes, insomnia, joint pain, weight gain, changes in libido, as well as vaginal and bladder issues.
No one can really predict what their experience of menopause will be like—just like no one can predict how their menstrual periods will be before they happen. But there are a few things you can start doing today to prepare your body before it has reached menopause.
Invest in Bone HealthThe development of our bones is most critical before age 30. Our bones stop growing in late adolescence, but bone density doesn’t stop increasing until your late 20s.
Bone density is then greatly affected by the drop in estrogen that comes with perimenopause and after menopause. You can lose up to 10 percent of your bone mass during menopause. Medication can slow this process, but there is no magic bone growth supplement, and it is better to support your bones before you reach this point.
Caring for your bones during adolescence and into your 20s is crucial then. The more you invest in bone health before 30, the better you will be later in life. After age 30, maintenance is key and can be done by following the same principles you did in your teens and 20s. The habits you develop in early life need to be carried forward with age.
Eat foods rich in calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, protein and omega-3 fats to stimulate healthy bone cell development and strengthen bones over time. In addition to these healthy eating habits, practise weight-bearing exercises, like full-body strength training, and balance exercises, like yoga. Regular weight training will keep bones strong and improving balance will ensure fewer falls or potential for bone breaks.
Talk About ItNot many people are talking about menopause; how it is affecting their quality of life, or what treatment options they might’ve explored. Often seen as a taboo topic, menopause is rife with connotations of ageism, decline in sexual desire and desirability. Furthermore, like menstruation, the experiences leading to menopause can be debilitating leading to disruption in career and personal life. The inequity that arises is yet another unfortunate phase those who menstruate must endure.
The solution to the taboo surrounding menopause? Talk about it! Talk to people in your life who may also be experiencing it. When appropriate, try to gain insight from the experiences of those who have already gone through it and emerged on the other side.
Currently in the United States, reproductive rights lawyer, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, attorney and author, Dr. Sharon Malone, social worker, Donna Klassen, and Congresswoman, Yvette Clarke are working to reintroduce the Menopause Research Act. The Menopause Research Act was originally introduced to close gaps in menopause treatment and research. Together they are reinvigorating the Act to find current solutions to shape policy, the medical system, and close the gap of information and access to care as it currently exists.
Educate YourselfEducating yourself about the changes that come with menopause can help you feel better prepared for your future health and wellbeing, as well as help to be more supportive of the people in your life who are currently going through the change. Menopause is a whole-body experience, affecting everything from mental health to sexual health to heart health. When we start looking at what people who menstruate go through over the course of their lives, it’s wild we don’t talk about it all more.
No matter your age, it’s never too early, or too late, to start learning about menopause. Positive dialogue about menopause is (finally) popping up in the media, taking up space in books, podcasts and TV and film.
What Comes NextIt’s been over 20 years since the DIVA Cup first went to market. Many of our consumers are packing away their cups for what comes next. Others are embracing new products like our DIVA Reusable Period Underwear or DIVA Disc, or pairing the two, to support the incredible increase in flow perimenopause can bring. Still others are rejoicing that they no longer need to worry about gushes and cramping.
In addition to individual care strategies, employers can support their staff by introducing policies to support the menopause journey. Today, on World Menopause Day, DIVA is revising our Menstrual Leave Policy to include Menopause. Effective immediately DIVA employees can take one day a month for the care of menopause symptoms.
Uncertain and possibly a little relieved, those in menopause are navigating a new chapter in life, full of questions, experimental treatments, and, of course, physical symptoms they often don’t understand. Wherever you are in your journey, as your conscious cycle care partner, we are here for you.
- “Menopause Symptoms.” The Menopause Foundation of Canada, menopausefoundationcanada.ca/resources/menopause-symptoms/. Accessed 17 Oct. 2023.
- “Perimenopause, Early Menopause Symptoms | the North American Menopause Society, NAMS.” Www.menopause.org, www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal#:~:text=Most%20women%20experience%20menopause%20between.
- Weiss-Wolf, Jennifer. “The Law Needs to Talk about Menopause.” Ms. Magazine, 11 Oct. 2023, msmagazine.com/2023/10/11/menopause-eeoc-pwfa-perimenopause/. Accessed 17 Oct. 2023.