How to Talk About Menopause with Teenagers
Women can have unique and sometimes life-changing menopause symptoms, but when those symptoms happen at the same time as their children’s own pubescent yo-yoing of hormones, it can lead to what one mom called a “hormonal house of hell.” Menopause and parenting teens are becoming more and more common as women are choosing to have children after 30, and it is quite a challenge.
Understanding the different symptoms of hormone fluctuations can help you and your teenagers to understand that you are dealing with menopause and together you can control the symptoms so they don’t control you and adversely impact your relationships. This article will provide 10 ways to talk to your teenagers about menopause.
Menopausal Teenage Parenting
Perimenopause (the stage before menopause) can start at 35, last 5-10 years, and is the beginning of many vexing menopause symptoms (1,2). Menopause typically occurs between the age of 45-55, when women are most likely to have teenagers at home. The result? Millions of women are parenting teenagers, with all of their raging puberty hormones, at the exact same time they are experiencing menopause symptoms. What a combination …
For many of us who chose to start our family a bit later, the combination of puberty and menopause can be bewildering. Slamming doors, shouting, or even occasional sobbing come to mind. While we all aspire to be fun, smart, caring, and calm parent when we are in the grip of our own raging hormones that’s a pretty tough goal. Because we often refrain from talking about the world of menopause symptoms, our families are left wondering, “What is going on?”
Combining the hormonal cocktail of menopause + puberty under one roof is tough to navigate. After all, you have people who are all experiencing changing genitalia, libido transitions, acne, increased irritability, hair growth in unfamiliar places, sweating that is new to them, and an overall identity reinvention living together.
It can be pretty discouraging to think that just as women are reaching such a critical stage in their family they can also be experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic fatigue, hot flashes and night sweats, mind fog, cognitive impairment, and so much more. Despite the fact that one in four women will experience very serious menopause systems, it is rarely addressed appropriately within a family.
How Can We Talk to Our Teenagers About Menopause?
We know that ignoring menopause is not a solution to the symptoms and the adverse impacts they can have on our relationships with our teenagers. So, what can we do?
- First, let’s face the challenge of menopausal symptoms head-on. Accept menopause and treat the symptoms that come with decreasing hormones so that you can live your healthiest, happiest life. It may sound simplistic, but take care of yourself. If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, address them and manage your teen’s ups and downs productively.
Women can effectively treat the symptoms with safe, medically prescribed options like hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The earlier you start to treat the symptoms, the better. If you wait too long (past 60 years of age and never tried HRT) you may not be able to receive the treatments that could help you most.
Women are not likely to sail through menopause by drinking tea or taking special vitamins. The reality is that 80% of women in menopause have far-reaching symptoms – including brain fog, anxiety, weight gain, low libido, depression, sleeplessness, exhaustion, vaginal dryness, and stiff joints. With HRT, women can look forward to fewer debilitating symptoms that can adversely affect their ability to parent the way they want to.
- Help your teenagers to recognize menopause for what it is. Learn all you can about menopause. There are so many unfounded myths about menopause. Just like with any taboo topic, there is a rich history of why people have perpetuated misinformation, and it is no different for menopause. Menopausehappens because hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) drop as we age.
Menopause is not an “old woman” thing. Millennials are entering perimenopause and they aren’t even 40 yet. At peri- and menopause hormones are dropping sharply. Some hormones are now at 50% of what they were at 20. We encourage you to read the full library of perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause articles at Bywinona.com.
- Identify that both you and your teen are going through similar experiences. This hormonal roller coaster can be a great opportunity to bond with your teen. You are both railing in hormonal storms that feel strange, unfamiliar, and out of control. Your bodies are acting in ways that may make you feel like you are just along for the ride.
Share with your teen what the differences and similarities are for both of you. These changes might be exciting and scary at the same time. Maybe they are finally getting those curves or the biceps they have been waiting for, but leaving childhood behind can be bittersweet. Alternatively, mom’s curves may be moving into an unattractive spare tire around the waist and while the teen’s skin is oily, mom’s skin and hair can be dry and brittle. While your teen may be embracing the ride, for both of you it can be scary too.
- Share with them that menopause is normal, and there is a treatment for the symptoms. Everyyear in the US alone, millions of women will enter peri- and menopause. You are not alone. By 2025 there will be 1 billion women dealing with menopause and its world of symptoms. Yet, menopause is still a taboo topic – especially when it comes to talking about it with your family.
Yes, it is going to be hard to talk to your teenager about these sometimes very private symptoms, but talking about a taboo takes away its power and can reap huge rewards. Talking about your experience and challenges can normalize the conversation and help your teen to feel empowered to speak up when they are dealing with their own hormone changes and symptoms. (1, 3, 4).
- Explain that you are not crazy, but may need a little help. While moodiness, mental health issues, depression, and suicidality increase with age, oftentimes these issues are related to the ever-decreasing hormones with menopause. Suicide rates are at the highest during menopause. Untreated menopause can take a heavy toll on the second half of a woman’s life.
Teens are also dealing with huge swings in their moods. Being a teenager is hard. They are under pressure to be liked, get good grades, get along with family, and make big life decisions. Feeling very sad, hopeless, or worthless could be warning signs of a mental health problem. Open, encouraging conversations about mental health are always a good idea.
- Recognize that pushing away may be a feature of both of your transitions. Teenagers are supposed to push you away from adults – especially mom. It is a positive sign that they are developing their own identities, but it can hurt especially when mom is feeling quite emotional too. Know that they need you more than ever, but the push me -pull you is completely normal.
Encourage them to distance themselves, but let them know that you are going through something and need a bit of support at times too. That is fair. In exchange, you can promise you will let them feel their feelings, and you will get through to these phases together (2,3,4).
- Teach them to stand up against female ageism and the stigma surrounding menopause. Yes, menopause represents aging — and no one really wants to deal with that — but women suffer far more from ageism than men (4, 5).
Menopause feels like a secret which leads to a lot of misinformation. By embracing menopause as a stage, just like puberty or like our reproductive years, we can normalize the phase and honestly approach menopause. What a gift to our daughters to empower them early, and an opportunity to educate our sons.
- Teach them to stand up against anyone that tells them to just “Endure It”- Why Should You? A big part of the problem with most women’s menopause journey is that family, friends, and sadly our doctors just aren’t prepared to talk about it.
Surveys of thousands of women in peri- and menopause show that the majority of women felt better about life after treating their menopause symptoms than they did 10 years before. They experienced more hope, increased happiness with their bodies, newfound optimism about careers, and were excited about their family (5,6, 7). Just like your teens shouldn’t have to endure feeling bullied, poorly treated, or unwell, neither should you.
- Identify authentic ways to connect. We all have busy lives. So, many of our conversations are about logistics. ( Homework? What’s for dinner? Move your laundry over?) We often forget to make room for an impromptu, authentic conversation.
Setting aside specific times during the week (say 15 minutes) where your teen has your full attention, and you have theirs, is critical. Put the phone away, turn off the game, and talk to each other. This consistent space for conversation can take a variety of forms. For some that are regularly driving your teen to their games, friends, and maybe even taking the long route. For others that can look like a special meal 1 or 2x per week, or walking the dog together every other day… whatever works for you. Just make the time.
- Accept this as a phase of independence and an awakening of YOU and your teen. Once you accept that menopause symptoms are treatable, you can work with your teens to move into a phase of life that is far more welcoming. As we age, just like our teens, we can become more independent and capable. For decades, we worried about whether we were good enough. Now, we can liberate ourselves, but first we must rid ourselves of the symptoms and complications of menopause and LIVE OUR BEST LIFE.
Take care of yourself, even when you are contending with menopause and parenting. Dealing with menopause silently is not necessary and can prevent your family from helping you during this challenging time. You should not be alone on your menopause journey, ask them to join and support you. We all have a story to tell, share yours with your teens today.
The drop in hormones during menopause can have far-reaching effects. Winona can help. Safe, natural, bio-identical HRT is available if prescribed.