What would happen if we paid more attention to the positive news about aging, menopause and sexuality? First you’d have to search around to find those headlines. Most of what we read about sex after a certain age is primarily negative. It’s sort of a doom and gloom picture. The newest pharmaceutical ads on television depict sex after menopause as painful. The prominent headlines and blog posts talk about how awful sex is for older women. I hear from women all the time who think sex is no longer worth it—and I wonder what’s behind those statements. It’s hard to feel vibrant, sexual, or even relevant, as an older woman if all you hear are negative messages.
As a society, we thrive on the negative. Those stories get top billing. Feel-good stories rarely open the nightly news. There is little money to be made in telling sweet, warm and positive stories.
The aging of the boomer generation has spawned a marketing frenzy as everyone tries to capitalize on our fears about growing old. The drug companies and the cosmetics industry are the worst. The goal is to make us feel scared, inadequate, inconsequential and a little depressed. They create messages designed to fuel our insecurities. We buy into those negative messages and feel bad about ourselves.
It saddens and angers me when I see scare tactics used on aging women. Menopause gets the most attention.I see it every time I turn on cable television or look at a women’s magazine. I see it in my Facebook groups when women start sharing their horror stories to someone who is entering the perimenopausal phase.
Yes, menopause can create havoc for some women. Many of us handle this change of life easily. My transition was mild. I wasn’t chatting with others going through menopause so I wasn’t hearing all the terrible things I should expect. No one was wagging a finger in my face telling me I’d become a desert ‘down there’ and would never want sex again. Maybe the absence of all that negative chatter allowed me to enter that phase naturally and without fear? I’ve handled crises far worse than hot flashes and night sweats. Haven’t most of us?
Much of how we approach life depends on our emotional makeup. Do we fear the worst or laugh in the face of danger? Do we approach things with dread and anticipation or are we open to experiencing life fully, taking it all in stride? Practicing positive thinking, gratitude journals or rituals, and living intentionally can be useful tools for coping with concerns about aging and menopause.
When we buy into certain stories and beliefs we tend to shape our lives to mesh with those beliefs. Even when it doesn’t fit our reality. And, it’s so simple to talk ourselves into a negative place. Let’s remember that we have choices about everything we approach in life.
So the next time someone finds out you’re menopausal and starts going on about dryness or painful sex, debilitating hot flashes, moods, etc. think about what these ‘truths’.
- No one really knows what you’re experiencing; we can sympathize, but we can’t put ourselves in your shoes.
- Every one of us is unique. Our menopausal journey will be similarly unique. There are a range of symptoms—you may or may not experience any of them.
- Menopause is a stage of life—it’s not a disease.
- There are workarounds for many of the things that plague women. Some are common sense and simple to implement; others may call for more problem-solving, even medical attention.
- Every ending provides the opening for a new beginning.
Do yourself a favor—be open to possibilities. The possibility that aging has many benefits. Think about the positives of a life free of menstruation. Imagine an expanded definition of sex that would satisfy you on several levels. See yourself as a vibrant woman with much to offer the world. Let yourself ease into aging and adopt a sense of curiosity. Walk away when some 20-something model is advertising anti-aging cream. Remember, the ads you see in the media are designed to sell you something you don’t really need—they’re created by profit-makers. None of these people care about how you view yourself or whether you’re celebrating life—they just want your money.
This all sounds simple enough and yet, it’s not. If you want to change your approach to aging you will have to shut out those voices. You will need to get up each day remembering the good in your life, your purpose and the dreams you’re constantly creating. This isn’t the end of the road—we’ve got a ways to go yet.