October 2023



I was somewhere in my forties when I told my doctor at my annual checkup that I felt very hot sometimes. “It’s not hot flashes,” I assured her. “I just get really hot.” Fast forward twelve months to my next annual checkup. My doctor checked her notes and opened with a question. “Are you still having the hot flashes?” she asked. Denial, as they say, isn’t just where they found baby Moses floating in a reed basket. My doctor gets points for not chuckling as she wrote “hot flashes” in her notes the previous year. The average age of menopause for women in the United States is 51. Perimenopause, which is a slightly less hellish condition, can begin up to 10 years before the main show. It was perfectly normal for me to be having hot flashes at that time, but I wasn’t going there. Not me. Hot flashes, by the way, are kind of like 2 a.m. infant feedings. They’re pretty humorous until they happen to you. Then they’re

not one bit funny. I guess we should have known that something that starts with “men” was going to be troublesome. And “pause?” It’s not a pause. It’s the end. If your identity as a woman is connected to your ability to bear children, that’s over for good and you’d better find a hobby. As a fourth grader, I joined my fellow female classmates one afternoon in the school cafeteria to view a short film called “Growing Up and Liking It.” Produced by a company that made feminine hygiene products, it was blatantly commercial but factual, nonetheless. It was rife with information that no one, including our mothers, wanted to discuss with us, so the school showed it, and we giggled. It was, to be sure, good preparation. Maybe if they made an educational film for menopause, we would all be better prepared to deal with it when it occurs. They could call it “Growing Old and Tolerating It.” I’m thinking the makers of Premarin ® could sponsor it. Or maybe the people who make



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