The woman in menopause, who is becoming the queen of herself, finds herself at a crossroads of life, torn between the old way she has always known and a new way she has just begun to dream of. A voice from the old way (in many cases it’s her husband’s voice) begs her to stay in place—”Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” After working with thousands of women who have gone through this process, as well as experiencing it myself, I can say with great assurance that menopause is an exciting developmental stage—one that, when participated in consciously, holds enormous promise for transforming and healing our bodies, minds, and spirits at the deepest levels.
Around age 40, women’s bodies begin perimenopause, the transition leading to menopause (the point in time when you stop menstruating permanently). The hallmark of this transition is a change in the levels of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and the androgens. Yet this is not solely a physical event—it is also the biggest opportunity for personal growth and empowerment since adolescence.
Too many women see the hormone therapy decision as an either/or, yes/no decision. It is important for you to know that you don’t necessarily have to choose between traditional HT and alternatives. Think of your perimenopausal support as a smorgasbord. You get to choose what appeals to you at the moment and leave what doesn’t.
Today, many women with a family history of breast cancer are opting for genetic testing to determine whether they carry the abnormal breast cancer genes one (BRCA1) or two (BRC2). When the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are healthy, the body is more likely to hinder breast cancer cell growth. When these same women test positive for the (mutated) breast cancer gene, many are opting for a preventative bilateral mastectomy (the removal of two, usually healthy, breasts). This is happening more and more, even though only five to ten percent of all new breast cancers occur in women who carry the gene!