By Ellen Dolgen
Thursday, October 18th, 2012 is World Menopause Day. This is like a worldwide birthday party for the big M! This year, the sponsoring organization, the International Menopause Society (IMS), is launching a campaign to focus on the health implications of weight gain during menopause. (Coincidentally, I blogged about weight gain a few weeks ago.) How can you celebrate? Open up the channels of communication and break the taboo that somehow still lingers around the topic of perimenopause and menopause. It’s silly, and it’s time we’re done with it. Raise a toast to you, your Mom, your sisters, Aunts, and to women worldwide who share this passage of womanhood.
What are some ways you can honor and celebrate yourself or other women you know who are experiencing perimenopause or menopause? How about throwing a Menopause Party? Quick! When you think of the word “party,” what comes to mind? The legendary toga party in Animal House? Jake Ryan’s house party in Sixteen Candles? The seniority in Dazed and Confused? Though all of these parties had different features—from ivy to paddles—they have one thing in common: the reason for celebration—each other. Parties exist for fun! Menopause parties are no different. As the taboo surrounding perimenopause and menopause is peeled away layer by layer like your clothes during a hot flash, more women are looking to parties for support, the latest information, resources and sisterhood.
History has seen women shoving their feelings under the rug or ignoring them completely. Most women haven’t talked about perimenopause or menopause with their mothers or friends, and even fewer have dared to enter that territory with a grandmother. We’re women! We benefit from the acknowledgment of our feelings, tendencies, and patterns. Acknowledgment brings acceptance, acceptance brings understanding, and understanding brings better relationships and a thirst for more knowledge. The end result is hormone happiness within yourself and within your household.
Since many women don’t realize that perimenopause starts when you’re young (generally between the ages of 38-48), why do women wait to learn about this time in their life? Let’s not wait until the symptoms —hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, a crashing libido, irritability or memory loss , start affecting our relationships with our families. Reach out and find a menopause specialist that specializes in perimenopause and menopause or a support group. Don’t wait until you feel like an alien has taken over your body. Let’s be proactive about our health rather than reactive.
You’re not alone. You’re one in the estimated 50 MILLION women going through menopause. 6,000 women enter menopause each day. Hold on! Before you make an appointment for a sex change, remember that you are not alone (50 million!), it is natural, and men go through a male menopause (andropause), too!
We’re lucky to live in a day and age when the wisdom of women at the perimenopause and menopause age is respected—when women all over have menopause parties and celebrate themselves, speaking up and reaching out to friends and family for support. They are sharing, answering great questions they’ve never thought to ask themselves, enjoying cocktails and delightful snacks, and discussing tests that are important to ask their doctors. Barbara, who co-owns a fabulous boutique called BE Styled says the most memorable part of her party was “the way women [connected] and [shared] their genuine concerns and frustrations with the process of perimenopause and menopause. The energy at the menopause party is like a load of bricks have been lifted off these women’s shoulders when they come together in this party atmosphere to open up and get feedback. The overall vibe is relief and joy! [It’s] not an intense, medical type of lecture vibe, even though the party is intended to give serious help and resources to women that are suffering.”
Aside from the therapeutic benefits, menopause parties help women connect their friends to doctors that have demonstrated that they’re perimenopause and menopause specialists. Loraine wrote that “it has helped so many of my friends since my party to find the right specialist and the correct treatment for their personal experience.” At Jeanne’s party in New York (filmed by WCBS),the women left with an even stronger bond than they came with.
Robin said, “It wasn’t until I attended a menopause party myself that I realized how wonderful and powerful they were… I am a reluctant party giver and this was a big step for me! In the end, I had ten wonderful guests, old and close friends from all areas of my life. As the evening went on, everyone snuggled in around the dining table and talked about perimenopause and menopause. Everyone bonded and felt really close as we shared our stories, questions and concerns! I was so happy to give this experience to my friends, a lovely gift of female friendship.”
At EllenDolgen.com we offer party-planning ideas to make your party as enjoyable as possible. You’ll find a list of questions for your party, a delectable recipe for a MenoCosmo. No need to stress! Everyone’s party is unique and spirited. They range from a casual get-together over coffee, tea or cocktails all the way to a themed dinner with personalized M&Ms. If you let us know you’re having a party and send us some pictures, we will feature you on EllenDolgen.com and send you one of our cozy bathrobes as a thank-you for spreading the movement.
Women have come a long way from the days when discussing their personal issues was unheard-of and discouraged. Throw a party to get the conversation started (you don’t have to wear a toga).
Always remember my motto: Reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT!
Ellen Dolgen is a Health and Wellness Advocate, Menopause Awareness Expert, Author and Speaker. She has become an outspoken advocate for women’s health and wellness, including mental health and heart disease, focusing on women of all ages. She founded a Women’s Health and Wellness program providing corporate education programs for businesses, health care institutions and other organizations.