Hot flashes and night sweats. Mood swings and irritability. Painful intercourse and low libido. All of these and more are common symptoms of menopause, the biological transition that women endure in their 40s or 50s.
Most women dread the onset of menopause. With all the negative symptoms, it’s easy to think of menopause as something that happens when life is coming to an end. But is it really all that bad?
Menopause marks the end of your fertile years, but it’s far from the end of your life. In fact, the average life expectancy for a woman in the United States is 81 years. That means you have nearly half your life ahead of you, and maybe more.
While it’s true that menopause brings challenges, it has its positives, too. Board-certified OB/GYN A. Michael Coppa, MD, partners with women to navigate the changes of menopause, both good and bad.
So if you’re facing menopause, here are some of the benefits that often go overlooked — and why they shouldn’t.
The end of your menstrual periods
Most girls get their first menstrual period around age 12, then get a period every month until menopause. By the time menopause rolls around, most women have about 450 periods over the course of their lives.
You get your period every month that your ovaries release an egg to be fertilized, but you don’t get pregnant. When menopause starts, your ovaries stop releasing eggs, you can’t get pregnant, and your periods stop.
Without periods, you don’t have to wonder when it will start each month. There’s no risk of bleeding or spotting unexpectedly, and no need to buy tampons or pads anymore.
No risk of pregnancy
About 65% of women use birth control during their reproductive years to prevent pregnancy. Birth control is effective, but it often comes with some unpleasant side effects depending on the methods you use.
Since your body stops ovulating once you reach menopause, you can no longer get pregnant and you can stop using contraceptives. With the risk of unintended pregnancy gone, you might find you feel less worried about sex and you’re able to enjoy it more.
Relief from menstrual symptoms
Hormonal changes govern your menstrual cycle, but those fluctuating hormones cause menstrual symptoms that range from bothersome to severe.
About 85% of women get period cramps. Nearly 90% of women suffer premenstrual syndrome (PMS), with symptoms like bloating, moodiness, and headaches. And if you have chronic migraine, you may also suffer menstrual migraine before your periods start.
Your estrogen and progesterone levels decline for good when you start menopause. Without your monthly period and the hormonal changes that come with it, those menstrual symptoms stop too.
Disappearing body hair
Those declining hormones don’t just eliminate your period symptoms. Low estrogen and progesterone levels in menopause can make your hair grow slower or not at all.
While this might sound concerning, it might mean your days of time-consuming body hair removal are over. Some women notice that underarm hair, leg hair, and even pubic hair gets thinner or disappears completely. Without the hair, the need to shave, wax, and tweeze disappears.
A renewed zest for life
Finally, menopause can bring a fresh outlook on life. Margaret Mead, an anthropologist, referred to this shift as postmenopausal zest, and one study found that optimism rises in your 50s.
At this stage of your life, you may have less stress and more time to focus on yourself. Coming out on the other side of menopause, you might be surprised to feel empowered, confident, and excited to set goals for the future.
No matter your age, Dr. Coppa and our team are here to help you enjoy your best health. Learn more about perimenopause, menopause, and life after menopause with a personalized consultation.
Call one of our offices in Cranston, Providence, and Smithfield, Rhode Island, or request an appointment online now.