How did you become an expert on menopause and an advocate for women’s wellness?
When I entered perimenopause, I acted like the Wicked Witch of the West, slept like an insomniac, couldn’t find my way through a case of never-clearing brain fog, and sadly waved goodbye as my estrogen and vagina packed up and moved to the desert—and I’m not talking about Las Vegas!
After three scary years of struggle, I took out my journal and started writing about my experiences. While, at first, the journaling was a way to escape from all the loneliness and pre-menopause confusion, it soon became a gift that I intended to give to my daughter. It would be a guide to perimenopause and menopause—something she could turn to when she was older and found herself experiencing signs of menopause as I did then.
The more I learned of the various menopause symptoms, and how many women were suffering through them in silence, however, the more I wanted to share my newfound menopause knowledge with the sisterhood of all women. So the journal became a book, and then led to the creation of my website. This menopause business is now what I call my “encore career.” I make it my mission to be sure that women do not suffer needlessly like I did for several years. My motto is: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
What misconceptions do you hear most about menopause?
The biggest misconception is that menopause begins when you are “old”!
Women in their thirties are not thinking about menopause yet, even though perimenopause (the 6-10 years before menopause) can begin as early as 35 years old. Perimenopause is the stage of your life that is, unfortunately, home to most of the symptoms we associate with menopause. Menopause is simply defined by the absence of your period for 12 consecutive months. The average age of menopause is 51. Perimenopause precedes this.
Rapid egg decline (this is what I like to call it) goes like this: Fertility is highest between the ages of 18-22. Once you reach 30 years old, it begins to decline. At 35, it has gone down sharply. By the time you reach 40 years old, only about 40% of women are able to conceive without medical intervention. Why is this? Because by the time you reach 40, your body is gearing up for perimenopause, if it isn’t already there. Hormones are changing, and your reproductive system has begun spring cleaning.
So, how do you know if you’re in perimenopause? What are some symptoms that you can expect from being in this stage of your life? Brace yourself: the answers aren’t all that pretty…you can find the list in my Menopause Symptoms Chart. Download this chart and start navigating! No boating shoes needed. If you have marks on this chart, the next step is to find a good menopause specialist. Need help? You can get help finding one here.
How can women prepare for menopause as they approach midlife?
Knowledge is power! Educate yourself about this time in your life so that you can be proactive about your health instead of reactive. The Internet is full of information to help you. Do not hide your symptoms and pretend that you are “fine,” but rather, be open and honest with yourself when you are not feeling well. Put yourself on your own To Do List! Yes, right on the top!
What is your best advice to women who are navigating the symptoms of menopause?
I always tell women to remember these three things:
- You are not alone —6,000 women enter menopause in the U. S. every single day!
- Trust how you feel—you know when you don’t feel good.
- Reach out and get the support you need and deserve! There are many treatment options available today. Find a good menopause specialist to develop an individualized plan that fits your health needs.
Menopause helped me to tune into my body and embrace this time in my life. I take better care of myself now. I have a renewed feeling of freedom. I surround myself with people and things that bring me joy.
What resources do you recommend?
The Internet is full or resources. I have a wealth of information on my website—think of it as a virtual library. You can find blogs, interviews, and the latest studies and research. I would also rely on the sisterhood for advice and love and support. I found that when I opened up and shared my story, others shared theirs. We can learn so much from each other.
Contact Ellen Dolgen at email@example.com or 619-437-0442.
Health and Wellness Advocate Speaker, Author, and Expert on Menopause Awareness. www.ellendolgen.com
Download Ellen’s new free e-book: Menopause Monday: The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.
I wish I had known what I know now! The social stigma of menopause is still an uphill battle but, like you say, symptoms start in our thirties. It’s not simply about “aging” or “being old”; we’re not going to be “put out to pasture” … unless that’s where we want to go. 🙂
Knowledge is freedom!
T.O., you are so right! We have come a long way…..but far from where we should be. There are still far too many women who are totally unprepared for perimenopause and menopause because they think it happens when you’re old! What is old today anyway???? I am 61 and I am not old!!! I just published my new free eBook for that exact reason. Help me spread the word to the younger generation!
Ellen is a great advocate for menopause. It is a part of life. It still carries the stigma if you are menopausal you are old and Ellen is helping to change that perception!
Thanks, Haralee! Thank you for all you do to help women feel happy and healthy in menopause and beyond! We are making these changes together.