Menopausal symptoms can be a real pain for most women.
According to the North American Menopause Society, most women will go through menopause between the ages of 42 and 58. During those years, symptoms abound. For many women, the most prevalent of these will be hot flashes, which, sadly, can last as long as 11 years. Let’s take a moment and think about that. All those women...all those years. And, what if they’re trudging along on the menopause journey solo?
I have a circle of friends who generally fall into three categories, the first two of which are friends and acquaintances. Then there’s the third category, those select few women who I consider true friends. These are the sister-friends to whom I can turn at any given moment for solace, a shoulder to lean on or a willing ear to listen. The element of time and association has no bearing on who I choose to call a close friend – these friendships range from women I’ve known for 40 to 50 years to women I’ve known for 5 years, to those with whom I’ve formed an undeniable connection in only a year or two. The point is, I know in which direction to look in my time of need. These women: I call them my tribe.
Tribes are wonderful to have. Like, for instance, when your significant other isn’t around, you need a break from the kids (or they need a break from you), or you just need to talk/vent/scream/cry and not be judged. A connection to your sisterhood can be the key to your sanity.
A tribe can also create a sense of community. When like-minded women come together, it fosters many things: understanding, support, trust, a sense of belonging, and acceptance.
The Importance of Female Friendships
It’s no secret that strong bonds of friendship have positive benefits, but friendships among women are special. We’re nurturers. We care for one another. We go deep…and even deeper still when we make a connection. And those close bonds can help us stay healthier as we age.
Let’s face it: women crave a connection with other women. It allows us to open up to one another and share our most intimate thoughts and feelings. When we begin to share on this level, the bonds of friendship are solidified. The more we share, the stronger those bonds become.
What happens when you share with others who are also going through a similar experience, like menopause? Your fears, worries, pains (physical and emotional) are validated because they know what you’re going through. As such, leaning on other menopausal women can be a great stress reliever. While it’s perfectly fine to surround yourself with women who haven’t yet experienced menopause, it’s even better to have simpatico with those who are currently on or have traversed the road of this pivotal journey. Every woman will experience menopause differently. It’s understandable that, for many women, it’s difficult to share their menopause journey with their significant other or family members. The power of female friendships during menopause is women don't have to suffer in silence.
Let Your Girlfriends In
I’ll be the first to admit that dealing with menopause symptoms isn’t easy. There have been times when, instead of reaching out to friends for solace, my mood swings brought me close to kicking them to the curb! In hindsight, I’m thankful I chose not to do so. I discovered that I need other women in my life, and not just for the social aspect. According to a study done by the University of Michigan in 2009 (and published in Hormones and Behavior), when women form close bonds, their bodies produce more progesterone, which can relieve anxiety, reduce stress and normalize mood. I’m all for that, and you should be, too.
You don't have to be the lone heroine during your menopause journey. Connecting with other women during your journey will help you feel less alone. When you feel like you’re spinning out of control and you need an outlet, turn to your girlfriends. They’re your tribe, your confidants. They are your girlfriends.
How do you and your friends support one another during menopause?
Check out our conversation cards as a way for you and your friends to connect, laugh, learn and explore. Our journaling and conversation prompts will prompt you to deepen not only your relationship with your support group but ultimately, yourself.
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