I'm An OB/GYN. Here Are 5 Reasons To Look Forward To Menopause
As a gynecologist focusing on menopausal and sexual wellness, as well as a woman over 50, I can wholeheartedly tell you that the second half of life promises to be much more exciting, happy, and opportunity-filled than the first.
This might sound paradoxical, as we start to face illness and loss of loved ones, physical abilities, and our youthful appearance. But the fact is, most of us sleep through the first half of life without really paying attention. Personally, if it weren't for the magic of digital photography, I wouldn't remember much of it at all. It seems like I blinked, and the kids are going to college, gray hairs are too many to pluck, and my Botox appointments are becoming more frequent. Not to mention, I am no longer fertile. I don't have periods. The God of reproduction says I am no longer a useful member of biological society.
We are conditioned to think that menopause is the end of relevant life, that we should accept being pushed out of the picture and replaced by someone younger. But here's the truth: Jumping (or being pushed) off the hamster wheel is the best thing that ever happened to me.
I finally have the wisdom and the time to follow my own agenda without being dictated to by children, society, or the media, so I can just be myself. All of a sudden menopause becomes a world of open possibility in which to play and explore. And boy, is it fun.
Let me share my top five reasons for why life has changed for the better after menopause:
1. You become content with change.
At this stage in life, I am finally content with change. In my 20s, I resisted change and thought everything "should" be a certain way. I was constantly blown around by the winds of reality and wanting things to be different. As I entered midlife, I began to understand that change is inevitable and that everything is impermanent. Rather than being a depressing insight, this has added so much richness and calmness to my life. If everything is going to end, including my own life, then I better savor every moment. And when things change, I am able to accept that yes, that is what happens. I waste way less time fighting with reality and enjoying the flow of life as it comes, which is a much more peaceful and happier way to live.
2. Your time is your own.
Your time finally becomes more and more your own. Sure, you may still have a job, a family, and plenty of responsibilities, but you start to view the way you spend your days much more as a choice rather than an obligation.
For me, I decided to stop blaming others for how I was spending my precious time and instead took responsibility for it. I now catch myself when I say that I "have to" or "should" do something. Rather, I think about what I "want to" or "choose to" do. Even those things that really need to get done, I can see as my own choice, and that I am ultimately 100% responsible for my own life.
3. You're no longer having periods—or thinking about them.
Well, that's just a no-brainer. Unless you are actively trying to get pregnant, who on earth would want to deal with monthly uterine bleeding?
After more than 30 years of dealing with this mammoth hassle, throwing those tampons and pads in the trash is an incredible freedom. And while saying goodbye to fertility may come with an element of grief about the loss of youth, what a relief to not have to think about getting pregnant anymore! After years of desperately trying not to get pregnant, followed by years of equally desperately trying to conceive, finally that desperation (whichever way it was directed) centered on monthly bleeding is over.
No more counting the days, no more worrying about this birth control or that one, no more stained undies and ruined white pants. I just got almost a fourth of my life back!
4. Romantic relationships become more generative.
You finally have some time to look at the person you have been sleeping next to all these years and get reacquainted.
After years of prioritizing work, kids, and a hundred other things, the second half of life offers an incredible opportunity to see each other in a new way. Once you take away the hats of mother, career woman, household manager, pet wrangler, taxi driver, and all-around superwoman, you can finally start to see who is really there. And if you take those hats off your partner too, a genuine reconnection can emerge. Two real, deep, and vulnerable humans might actually come out and play, to learn about themselves and each other, and begin to build a deeper relationship than you could ever imagine.
This is the field in which "co-creation" can emerge, which I define as the opposite of codependence. No longer do we need someone to fill an endless void in our soul, constantly depleting energy from the relationship and building resentment. Now two fully formed, mature, and independent adults can come together to enjoy the relationship as a third entity, both feeding that relationship with energy and creating more energy over time.
5. Sex becomes more about pleasure.
When it comes to my favorite subject, sex, my own experience as well as years of research shows without a doubt that sex after menopause can be better than ever. Sure, there are anatomic realities that we might need to address, such as vaginal dryness, loss of libido, and erectile dysfunction, to name a few. But luckily, with very few exceptions, those "complications" of aging can be safely addressed with safe and highly effective options to keep the shop open for business. And importantly, sex is absolutely not just vaginal intercourse, which was obviously designed with pregnancy in mind. Sex can be any intimate physical connection. It comes in hundreds of flavors!
To sum up why sex is better than ever, I am simply reflecting on points 1 through 4 above. By being content with change and having time to get to know myself and my spouse again, sex becomes an incredible opportunity for connection rather than a chore. It has moved from the "should do" to the "choose to do" column. And because I know that everything is impermanent, I am going to enjoy it as much as I possibly can. Sex has absolutely no purpose anymore, except to deepen love and connection.
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