Family

What No One Says About Menopause

It can impact marriage, motivation, major life decisions, as Chris Evert indicated

Tennis legend Chris Evert, who divorced her husband of 18 years, former Olympic skier Andy Mill, back in 2006, hinted recently that menopause may have played a substantial role in the ending of their marriage, according to People.com.

“I don’t know, I was going through menopausal stuff that doesn’t get talked about enough — what women go through, you know, at 50-ish,” Evert, 61, said on Lance Armstrong’s podcast on Tuesday.

“It’s a gift, a lantern lighting the way to significant transformation in all areas of life,” said one expert.

One Boston-area woman, who encountered menopause relatively early in life at 43, said she could understand the scenario.

“I was shocked at the severity of the emotional and mental ups and downs,” she told LifeZette. “My doctor asked if my mother had started menopause early, and she had. She, too, felt lots of ups and downs emotionally during those menopausal years. During that time I questioned everything — my marriage, my parenting, my work — the purpose of my life, even.”

Doctors say menopause can be a time of high stress and anxiety for many women, and include a laundry list of physical ailments including hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, dry skin, and lowered libido.

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“Up-and-down emotions prior to and during menopause are extremely common,” Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of medicine at Yale University and author of “What Every Woman Needs to Know About Menopause,” told Everydayhealth.com. “Studies show at least one in four women will have some symptoms of depression as well.”

Related: Love and Marriage: Worth the Fight

Evert married pro golfer Greg Norman two years after divorcing Mills — but they split up after just 15 months.

“I would say that just like the year following a spouse’s death, do not make any lasting life decisions during the worst times of menopause,” one 81-year-old mother and grandmother who lives near Los Angeles, California, said. “In my day we brushed aside all but the worst symptoms — times were different, and we had a lot of worries. Also, women didn’t focus on problems like they seem to today, and we had no internet to constantly remind us we had problems.”

“It turned out to be a time of real growth.”

Menopause occurs in most women between the ages of 40 and 58 and results in lower levels of estrogen and other hormones, according to the North American Menopause Society.

While challenging, menopause can also be a time of renewed purpose and fresh starts.

“It astounds me women are still being told that (and treated as if) menopause and midlife are a disease — something to be avoided at all costs — when the very opposite is true,” OBGYN nurse practitioner Marcelle Pick told Womantowomen.com. “Menopause is a gift, a lantern lighting the way to significant transformation in all areas of life.”

Related: Great Mothers Put Themselves Last

The woman from Boston who entered menopause early heartily agrees. “Instead of focusing on my marriage and my faults and failures, I focused on new experiences,” she said. “I bought a horse and re-learned to ride. I attended interesting lectures, and I generally focused outward — not inward. It turned out to be a time of real growth and personal fulfillment, which I continue to draw on today.”

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