Q: How afraid of menopause should I be?

You refer to hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings, and loss of libido as symptoms of menopause, and all of those happen for some women. Menopause doesn't equate absolutely to those symptoms for everyone, though; each woman's menopausal transition will be unique to her. Not every woman has every symptom, and even those women who share a symptom may experience it differently. About two-thirds of women have hot flashes, for example, but for some it means loosening a top button and for others it means running for the ice cubes! What I've seen in my practice is that the healthier you are overall, the easier the transition is likely to be for you. That means being as close as you can manage to your ideal weight, eating well and nutritiously, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. My motto for women at our age: "You're now high maintenance, so you need to behave that way!" The good news is that the healthy habits that help you through menopause also enrich the rest of your life, so you can be as active as you choose to be for longer. And being well-informed about what's to come will help you be calm and adaptable, which will also help keep symptoms managed. If you'd like some company along the way, subscribe to this blog or our twice-a-month newsletter or like us on Facebook. And talk to your women friends! We can learn a lot from each other about how we're compensating for the changes we'll all go through.

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