4 Real-Life Menopause Experiences


Laarni San Juan, 42
Registered nurse, San Francisco, CA

“After delivering my first and only child at age 34, I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. I haven’t had a period since, so even though I’m relatively young, you could say I’m in the latter stages of menopause. I’ve definitely experienced hot flashes, dryness, insomnia and mood swings. The most unpleasant thing about my experience is that it happened so much earlier than I expected. I had predictable periods throughout my life, worked out regularly and am healthy and fit. Initially, I kept asking, ‘Why me?’ But even though I didn’t see it coming, I have come to adore my body in the state it is now in and have become more mindful about what I need to do to complement the body changes that occur with aging. While the initial symptoms are earth-shaking—you feel your body sweat, cool down and then sweat again in a matter of minutes; you feel your skin dry up more and more each day; you feel your libido sink and can’t understand why; mood swings come and go; insomnia kicks in—the new body sensations don’t last forever. Menopause is just a body’s way of telling you that womanhood has shifted into a new category and one that confirms, ‘I am woman, hear me roar!’”


Lisa Lofthouse, 56
Yoga instructor, Fayetteville, NC

“I own a yoga studio and teach yoga to women mostly between the ages of 40 and 70, so in addition to my own experiences, I’ve gone through menopause with a lot of these women. I thought I would reach 50, stop having my periods and be done with it all. Instead, it’s dragged on for five long years. My biggest complaint has been migraine headaches that have persisted even after my periods stopped. It was so bad that I began a natural hormone replacement therapy to even things out and try to decrease the severity of the migraine, and it has worked wonders. The most surprising thing about the entire experience has been the spectacular benefits of my yoga practice. I do not suffer from hot flashes as much or as severely as my friends who do not do much yoga. Yoga has also allowed me to feel healthier, more confident, more vibrant and more clear-minded. Plus, the yoga classes have given us all a great sense of community. Once a week, we all go out to breakfast after class and the laughter and energy rock the room. Together we’ve learned that menopause is not the end of our lives; it’s the beginning of a new way of thinking, acting and being that’s merely different from other stages of life.”


Francine Filion, 54
Director of communications, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Ottawa, ON

“My mother died from breast cancer when she was 39, and my sister had her uterus removed in her 40s, so neither really had a ‘natural’ menopause that I could relate to. Before I stopped menstruating, I was waking up at 3 a.m. every night for no reason at all. When I began menopause, I stopped drinking coffee, stopped eating processed foods and started taking a mild anti-depressant. Something worked, because my mind-racing 3 a.m. wake-ups have stopped. I’m also loving the money I’m saving from not having my period (Tampax, pads, etc.) and not having the huge pimples I used to get, even at 50 years old. I’ve even been pleasantly surprised by my hot flashes. I thought they would be massive tropical vacations that would interfere with my life and work, but instead they’ve been more like very occasional short heat waves. Overall, I’ve been lucky. Every woman is different, but menopause isn’t a nightmare stage in life, and it’s not the end of femininity as defined by society, at least not for the French-Canadian gal.”


Barbara Kellam-Scott, 58
Writer, Sussex, NJ

“I can’t imagine how my mother’s generation got through menopause alone. The best part about going through menopause now is how my generation is beginning to open up and share our experiences. This process has taught me how to trust my sisters-in-body for anything, accept their care for me and know that it’s a shared experience that’s just our amazing system’s last hurrah. Menopause is in no way predictable, and every woman is different, but what we can rely on are our friends.”



Read more on  menopause in The Meaning of Menopause, Still on the Journey and “Menopause is a wake-up call”. Join the conversation by attending OdeNow’s menopause course. For a free digital copy of Ode’s entire Menopause Series, email engage@odenow.com.


Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Marisa P.
Marisa P5 years ago

Hi - just wanted to ask whether anyone had tried any natural supplements to help with the skin issues from Menopause? Any comments about Perricone's Skin Clear or BioCorrex's Anti-Ageing Skin Caps??? I'd be intrigued to find out more....

Kirsten B.
Past Member 5 years ago

These stories were interesting - also the ones in the comments. Thanks for sharing them all.
One thing I've noticed is the increased need for sleep. There will be 4-7 nights in a month where I'm wide awake in the middle of the night for no reason and 12-15 days where 8 hours sleep is just not enough. I'm still at the beginning of the journey.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

I thought it was horrible-like adolescence without the excitement of looking forward to being a grown up. I wish I'd gone to my doctor and demanded HRT. You have to be "on the ball" teaching in high school (they are merciless,) and I just wasn't.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Ignored it.

Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Good article to share with the younger ladies. Menopause is not something to dread, just a process of moving forward.

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

I've been going through menopause for over 20 years. For me it will never end. I still get hot flashes and night sweats. I was glad for the periods to end as they were very painful and I had nausea with them. I was stuck in bed for a day or two with a heating pad on my abdomen.
A shame women have to suffer through this.

Ann Cannoy
Ann Cannoy5 years ago


Maggie F.
Margaret F5 years ago

A symptom that is not mentioned often are cold flashes. I had mild hot flashes, usually during the day, and cold flashes when I was trying to sleep. The cold made me shiver and it came from the inside as when I would check the temp of my skin or feet they felt normal. I also had anxiety episodes. I learned to get up and moving and busy when anxiety hit during the day. For nighttime anxiety episodes I played soothing sounds (thunder, waves, etc) and kept a small fan going for white noise. I added soy milk to my diet (maybe 1/2 to 1 cup per day) and I slept better and the anxiety lessened.

Terri M.
Terri M5 years ago

I am 53 and have not yet entered menopause. I have been on the pill since age 17 which not only is great as a contraceptive but also helps with endometrium and ovarian problems. My mom went into menopause at around age 59. Since I started menstruating at age 9 1/2, I have had a lot of years of periods. I was talking to my doctor recently about the birth control pill and a family history of ovarian cancer. My grandmother and her sisters never took the pill and they all got it. My mother was the only one of her 4 sisters who was on the pill and she is the only one who did get ovarian cancer. In my generation, of the 5 of us who are female (ranging from 50-63), one cousin and I (both have been on the pill for years) are the only ones who have not had ovarian cancer.

Looking at the research, the pill can be very protective of many things. I looked closely at the statistics of that study that ran many women off of HRT and found two things interesting- (1) The HRT taken was NOT the same as the birth control pill and (2) the difference between those who did and did not have a problem was not that huge.

I choose a medicated menopause for comfort, convenience, quality of daily life, and because I think it is the healthiest for women like myself. I think back to the difference in my own mom's medicated menopause compared to what her sisters faced and feel said they didn't just avoid it (and ovarian cancer).