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The Bright Side of Menopause
Menopausal in Manhattan
Jan. 26, 2022
One woman explains why it’s more of a beginning than an ending.
I am a cheerful, steady person. In my youth you would’ve wanted me as your friend…for 28 days out of the month. But then, there were the other two days. Every fight I started, every stupid decision I ever made, I made two days before my period started. Start an affair with my married boss? Check. Stop the affair with my boss, then lose my job, then go into his closet and cut out all the flies of his pants with a scissor? Sure. Two days before my period started, I invested money I didn’t have in a friend’s obviously pointless app; I have created sock puppets to surreptitiously follow my children on SnapChat; I have agreed to go on a cruise with a man I barely knew and his parents and then had to admit to myself that if I spent more than 30 minutes in their company, it would be Man Overboard.
Sometime in my late thirties, I learned that a day or two of crazy was just the norm, and I learned not to take any action on those days. I was the equivalent of the werewolf who, fully aware he would be happily devouring his friends during a full moon, locked himself in his room and gave someone else the key. Well, that is if that werewolf were a middle-aged Jewish woman with an unfortunate haircut she’d just acquired because she would listen to no one.
And then: Menopause. And then: Peace.
I have never understood why the conversation around menopause is always so whiny. Yes, crossing that hormone-to-less-hormone bridge can be daunting for many. And yes, all hail estrogen, which keeps our skin soft and pliable; with its loss, of course we lose the shininess of youth. But in so many other ways, menopause has been a far better time of life. I get more done. I doubt myself less. I do not snarl at loved ones, once a month, what did you mean by that? Let me be clear. People who say that pre-menopausal women cannot run companies or countries because they are too emotional can bite me. Of course they can! Jacinda Arden, the prime Minister of New Zealand, was born in 1980 and is responsible for keeping her country healthy, with one of the lowest rates of Covid infection in the world. How’s that for steering the ship? And in some ways, I loved the idea of a monthly cycle; it made me feel a secret and happy connection to nature, the moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, and other women.But look, bleeding is overrated.
Like many women, I found myself perhaps most amorous during my period. And where did that lead? Well, once I recall vividly, it left enough blood on the sheets to make me a star in my own Tarantino movie. How much better it is to make love where and when I want, without checking the calendar. I know this is not true for everyone, but post-estrogen, when testosterone actually gets the upper hand over estrogen in some women (me), there may be more stray hairs, and lube is your best friend — but orgasm is easy.
I don’t think about sex as much, but at the same time, once I’m in a sexual situation, I’m happy to be there. Because at this stage in my life (60), after a 25-year marriage and widowhood, I’m pretty sure that anyone who is with me isn’t there because of my perfect body. I have to assume they like me. I don’t look perfect, but I’m good company, and very pleasant to the touch.
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