What if Menopause Didn't Have to Happen?
Would you celebrate it, miss it, or mourn it?
In a Wall Street Journal article, Sumathi Reddy explores the matter of menopause. What if science and medicine could do away with it?
Sounds like the stuff science fiction is made of.
Scientists (mostly female) are already exploring various potential treatments to slow down the rate of loss of a woman’s follicles and eggs.
One treatment mentioned is a drug, rapamycin, already in existence, used for kidney transplants. In mice, the drug appears to slow the aging of the ovaries. And scientists at biotech firms are busy engineering cells that replicate the same results as the drug rapamycin.
You might be wondering WHY menopause is on the chopping block.
Is it so we can remain fertile longer and have more choices about when to start a family?
Or to eradicate the 30-something pesky symptoms, chief among them hot flashes and night sweats; weight gain; cognitive decline, and mood swings?
Maybe it’s so women’s careers, often at their height, are not bothered or compromised by difficult symptoms of menopause, which can cause absenteeism and affect work performance.
Apparently, there is another chief reason.
“Menopause is the single biggest accelerant of the diseases of aging for women across the board, whether it’s heart disease and stroke, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis or cognitive decline,” Piraye Yurttas Beim, founder of a biotech startup, says in the article. And since menopause is “the end of the function of a key organ in our body,” he says we should not normalize it “any more than we would normalize tooth decay, osteoarthritis or cognitive decline.”
In other words, fight this essential part of aging.
I’m not sure what to think. While it’s true that research has found that women who go through menopause later (than the average age of 51) have a lower risk of heart disease and other health issues, artificially delaying menopause doesn’t necessarily mean that the same outcome would be achieved, says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health, and medical director of The Menopause Society.
On the other hand, it might be tempting to have some control over how our bodies age, just as contraception offers us control over when we want our bodies to reproduce.
But at what cost? And that’s my biggest quandary. I’m having trouble wrapping my head around all of this, especially now that we’ve finally reached the point where menopause is in the spotlight, becoming normalized and de-stigmatized.
None of this delay or eradication has happened, at least not yet. And it might not happen at all.
So, in the meantime, what I hope you all take away from this concept is this: If menopause is such a turning point for our bodies and their future, we should be paying attention!
Now is the time to make sure we know how to optimize our health.
Now is the time to pay attention to what we put into our bodies, how we treat our bodies, and best ways to take care of our bodies.
Now is the time to minimize our stress, maximize our happiness, and make the most of our relationships.
Because they all matter - now more than ever.
If not now…when?
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