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Menopause Facts We Bet Your Mama Never Told You

How many of these are you aware of?

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gif illustration of a refrigerator opening with a woman inside freezer having a hot flash, hot flashes, menopause
Steph Ramplin
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My mother never discussed menopause with me since she was from a generation of menopausal gatekeepers who avoided a topic they considered taboo. Consequently, I was unprepared when my first hot flash hit like a power surge, frying my body from the inside out.

The onslaught of internal heat spread faster than an out-of-control wildfire — without any hunky firemen to extinguish the flames. Mom didn't warn me that I would melt like clocks in a Salvador Dali painting or lose my last shred of modesty from a sudden urge to rip off all my clothes in public.

Ever wonder if spontaneous human combustion is real? Experience a hot flash, and you'll know it's not a myth.

As beads of sweat ran down my face, I called my mother, convinced I was experiencing the early symptoms of a heart attack. She brushed off my concern and said it was only menopause, cryptically adding that there would be more to follow. More what?? Invisible forces randomly setting me on fire with gasoline and matchsticks?

She was right, of course. There was so much more to come and so much more that she neglected to tell me about, such as night sweats — the evil twin of hot flashes. Not only had I turned into a human volcano, but I woke each night soaked in a pool of sweat that felt like lava oozing across me and my expensive 500-thread count sheets.

And that was just the beginning.

If hot flashes and night sweats had a baby together, it would be insomnia. As if riding a hormonal rollercoaster into the flaming bowels of hell wasn't enough, my body decided it would be fun to transition from normal sleep to the nocturnal hours of a cave bat. Naturally, my lack of sleep led to an exaggerated level of irritability — mostly with other human beings.

The memory of my mother's crabbiness in her early 50s makes sense to me now, so I forgive her for throwing a rubber sandal at me when I fed her dry pot roast to the dog.

Another topic Mom and I never discussed was sex, but a heads-up about vaginal dryness in menopause would have been nice. Less estrogen meant my lady bits became as dry as the Mohave desert — tumbleweeds included. As a result, it wasn't long before my husband discovered that the jaws of life aren't just for opening car doors. The irony is that I could finally have spontaneous sex without fear of getting pregnant, but I had zero interest because my libido crashed faster than the stock market in 1929.

Other menopause gems she neglected to tell me about were thinning hair and wiry hair growing in weird places. I didn't mind when my armpit hair stopped growing, but when a few curly, white ones mysteriously appeared on my chin, I feared I'd sprout a full-grown Santa Claus beard in time for Christmas. I never guessed that would be another symptom on my menopause bingo card.

Of course, I expected raging hormones and mood swings because I'd seen enough menopause memes to know what joys lay ahead. I'd also been warned about bloating and weight gain, but Mom conveniently forgot to tell me I’d morph into Mr. Potato Head. Two years into menopause, I could be mistaken for a Macy's Day Parade balloon if they floated a behemoth spud down 34th Street.

Menopause also gifted me with symptoms my mother swore she never experienced, such as dry, itchy skin, heartburn, headaches, teenage acne and body odor. I had to sniff my hairless armpits after each hot flash to make sure I didn't smell like a locker room after a Friday night football game.

Not to be left out of all the fun, anxiety crashed the menopause party, and pretty soon, I was experiencing heart palpitations every time I had to get behind the wheel of a car. If driving somewhere required a left turn at a major intersection, I'd go a mile out of my way to avoid it.

I'm also pretty sure that my bladder, once quite dependable, shriveled to the size of a raisin. Mom didn't warn me that I'd need to pee 24/7 and that I couldn't go anywhere without checking for bathroom facilities. Every road trip my family planned was routed by bathroom stops instead of scenery.

My memory hasn’t been the greatest since entering menopause, either. In some ways, brain fog is a good thing since the embarrassing stuff I did during my college spring breaks is now a blur. Even better, the girlfriends who witnessed those trips also don't remember because we're all on the same menopause flight to Neverland, where forgetting your past is a blessing.

Maybe my mother skipped the menopause talk because she felt it was a normal, unavoidable process and just a bump in the road. She was a silver-linings kind of woman, and despite being hormonally challenged during menopause, she never let it get in the way of living her best life. She set the best menopause example I could ask for, and I hope to do the same for my daughters.

While it's true that menopause isn’t for sissies, it's not all bad if you enter it with grace and humor and remind yourself it won't last forever. Once you reach the other side, you'll find gratitude and freedom, which makes the menopause journey worthwhile— as long as there are plenty of bathroom stops along the way.

What menopause symptom most surprised you? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health