For many in the medical establishment, menopause is simply a physical process that a woman’s body goes that marks the end of her reproductive years.

But any woman who has been through it knows that there’s much more to it. Menopause – or, more accurately, perimenopause, the 4-10 years leading up to the end of menstruation – is a time of great changes not only to the body but to the mind and spirit as well. It’s a journey that allows us to come into our own as women.

Today I want to touch on some of the ways menopause affects women in the various realms of life.

Menopause and the Mind

Menopause affects your mind? You bet. Brain fog, that feeling of fuzzy thinking and confusion, is one of the most common symptoms of peri/menopause. Moodiness is another. Many women find themselves irritable during this time in their lives, while depression and anxiety are also common.

Good quality sleep, adrenal health, balanced blood sugar, and a healthy diet are all effective weapons in fighting brain fog and moodiness.

Menopause and the Body

These are the symptoms that are widely documented, discussed, and treated, the ones that affect a woman’s physical well-being. Common symptoms of peri/menopause include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Painful intercourse
  • Decreased libido
  • Increase in urinary tract infections
  • Incontinence
  • Fatigue
  • Snoring

…and that’s a short list.

Symptoms of menopause can be dealt with systemically, with hormone replacement therapy, or one-by-one, depending on the severity of the issue (and whether HRT is right for you).

Menopause and the Spirit

I like to say that the real work during this time is spiritual, by which I mean the work of understanding the meaning and purpose of your life.

Menopause occurs around midlife, an ideal time to stop and look at our lives and ask some tough questions. Am I happy with the decisions I’ve made? Am I happy with who I am? It’s an opportunity to look at regrets, heartaches, and dreams deferred, as well as dreams realized, great loves, and incredible accomplishments.

We may not be happy with all the answers to these questions but in being honest, we find the freedom to accept the past for what it is and the ability to focus our attention on shaping the future.

The Journey to Balance

As a woman who has been through it myself, I understand that menopause is about much more than just the physical changes, and that’s why I do what I do. I’ve combined my experience as an ob-gyn and maternal-fetal medicine specialist and my knowledge of integrative medicine, which I studied at the University of Arizona, to focus my practice on integrative women’s health. My patient-centered approach allows me to address the many aspects of health – mind, body, and spirit – that affect wellness.

If you’re looking for a doctor to truly listen to you and give you 360º care during this profound change in your life, schedule a consultation with me at my practice, Tula Wellness MD. If Tucson is too far, consider reading my new book, The Menopause Myth, available now!