This week it’s all about the broody blues of menopause! Suddenly feeling an overwhelming urge to have a baby? Or if you have children, are you feeling down as they become more independent? I explain why you may experience these two very common feelings as you approach or go through the menopause as I take a look at pregnancy and empty nest syndrome at this time.
Hello, and welcome to another edition of A.Vogel’s Menopause Mondays. And today, I’m going to talk about pregnancy in the menopause, and also about empty nest syndrome, and very often, these two things come together.
Now, it’s quite interesting, the number of women who contact me actually saying that as they’re approaching the menopause, they are desperate, absolutely desperate for a baby. And they have this deep-seated need that it’s taking over their lives. And this can be women who’ve already had children, who’ve maybe got children who are leaving home. It can be even women who have never had the desire to have children suddenly find that they’re absolutely overwhelmed by this need to get pregnant.
Now, in a way, this is actually quite logical, because, you know, we are human beings, but we’re also part of nature. And nature’s primary focus, if you like, is the continuation of the species. So what happens as we approach the menopause and our hormones start to change, that some women can find that, “Yes, I just want one more chance at having a baby.” Or for those women who’ve never had children, this, again, they just want to actually have a baby. And it can become their focus. It can interfere with daily life. And it can actually become quite obsessive. Now, this is not something that’s in your head. There is a real reason for this. And this is caused just by the way your hormones have been primed, if you like, as you start to approach the menopause.
Thinking of having another baby
Now, if you are in this situation where you are seriously thinking about having another baby, there’s a couple of really important issues. One is as you start the approach to the menopause, especially if your periods start to miss, there is the possibility that you will no longer be able to conceive, and that is obviously, a big issue. Also, we have to realize that the older that you get, then there are more risks both for the mother and the baby during pregnancy. So this is the point here where if you are serious about it, that you go and you discuss this with your doctor. You find out. You can usually do blood tests to see whether it’s still possible to get pregnant, and also to check your general health, just to see that you are able to withstand all the trials and rigors of pregnancy.
Now, talking about pregnancy itself, there’s also a large group of women who do not want to get pregnant as they approach the menopause. And they’re always worried about, you know, “How long after my periods have stopped is it safe, where I don’t get pregnant.” In normal circumstance, we say two years. Once the two years is up and you’ve not had any period at all in that time, then you are considered to be safe from pregnancy.
Now, some sources will say one year, but in our experience, we get an awful lot of women who’ve gone for a year , ora year and three or four months without a period, and then they suddenly come back, or they actually start up again. Very often, this is just due to a sort of last fling of your hormones. But if that happens, then you have literally got to start counting again. So we always say to people, if you don’t want to get pregnant at this particular point, then it’s advisable to keep using some form of contraception until the two years is actually up.
Empty nest syndrome
Now, this particular point where some women that are desperate to have babies can also coincide with those who have grown-up children, they’re leaving home. And this is called “Empty Nest Syndrome.” And unfortunately, this point can hit right during the menopause. So there you are, you’re already feeling fatigued, or maybe low or down, and suddenly, your children have decided to leave home. They might be going on to further education, they might be starting a new life with someone else, or they may actually be going for a job or maybe going further afield. And it can be a really, really depressing time. You can feel that you’ve lost your identity. You don’t know who you are anymore. What can you focus on? What can you do now? Sometimes, women feel that there’s nothing left for them, that they’ve done their bit and that’s it.
This can also be a very trying time for relationships, because suddenly, there you are, just the two of you on your own. Now from what we’ve gathered from men, we know an awful lot of men are so looking forward to having their partners all to themselves. They just can’t wait. And there, unfortunately, their poor partner is sitting there, feeling miserable and unhappy and worthless and useless. So this is a point where you possibly really need to sit down, talk together, talk about your relationship, and about the future and about what both of you actually want to do as time goes by.
It’s also interesting, at this point, that some women, once they’ve got over the initial sadness of losing their children, they actually start to focus on what they want to do for themselves. It’s like carving out a new career. A number of women will go back to university or do open university. And women today, it’s amazing how many new little businesses starting up are all being done by women who are in the menopause or post-menopausal. And so instead of looking at this as a part of your life that’s ended, there’s also a new beginning, there’s a new part of your life that you can actually explore. So it’s not all gloom and doom here.
However, if you are feeling down, if you’re feeling really miserable that your children have left home and don’t really need you quite so much anymore, then you can look at herbs such as Hypericum. This is a lovely one for low mood and for anxiety. It takes about four weeks to kick in, but it can give you a nice little lift. You just can’t take it if you’re on any of the prescribed medication. So just be careful of that.
The other thing is something called Female Essence. This is one of the flower essences. I love the flower essences because they work on the emotional issues that are behind the symptoms that you get. And Female Essence is just for being a woman, you don’t need any excuse for this at all. If you’re feeling low, if you’re feeling down, if you feel you’ve lost confidence, you don’t know who you are anymore or you’re just finding it a little bit of a struggle, then you can use the flower essences like the Female Essence. And this is a lovely one because you can carry it in your bag with you, and anytime you’re feeling particularly low, you can just put a few drops straight onto your tongue.
What have you done?
So you know, there is good news with this particular situation. And I would be really interested, for those of you who have children that have already left home, have you done anything really spectacular since then? It would be nice for all of us to share in that.
So I look forward to seeing you next week for another edition of A.Vogel’s Menopause Mondays.