6 Overlooked Lessons From Menopause Purgatory
“I have patients in perimenopause coming in and complaining about skin breaking out, waists expanding, and hair thinning,” says Karyn Grossman, chief of the dermatology division at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, CA. “OK, so they work out more to deal with the weight gain. This can make their skin break out more, and matted hair from hot flashes can lead to hair thinning.” And of course, hair growing, but not necessarily on your head: “I’m growing hair in places women should never have hair,” says one friend. “I’m going through a pair of tweezers every couple of months because they get worn down from all the chin-plucking.”
Grossman has a passel of treatments to deal with skin problems caused by hormonal fluctuations: collagen boosters, skin-tightening lasers, acne treatments with retinoids for heavy-duty exfoliation. But still, at 49, she is irked herself “by losing skin elasticity on the body—things are just not as snug as in the past, and we can’t do as much about this as we can with skin on the face.” She insists there are still decent results with certain laser and radiofrequency pulsing treatments like Thermage, Body FX, and Forma Plus. “I am starting on my thighs,” she says. “While my belly bothers me, thighs are more visible to most.”
I can’t vouch for these treatments, but I am happy with the image of this incredibly youthful-looking dermatologist with every tool at her disposal, still annoyed with her thighs. No one is immune.
Lesson #6: !!?#$*&*[email protected](*$
And then, of course, there are the sudden mood swings that come with the fluctuations in our hormone levels, which can fell even the most amiable among us (and by ‘us,’ I mean me.) Janis Mara, a reporter in Oakland, CA, had always been a patient, even-tempered person. Until perimenopause hit.
“I was driving home from work around 10 p.m. on an avenue where there had been construction for the past week or so,” she recounts. “I’d had a long day’s work and was already in a foul mood, and when I caught sight of an orange DETOUR sign, I went into a foaming rage. ‘BLANKING SON OF A BLANK ROAD!’ I screamed so loudly in my car that I doubtless woke up the hapless residents on either side of the street. Then I realized the sign was just stacked on the side of the road and I didn’t have to detour, and promptly let out a howl of anguish and started sobbing, loudly. As all this was happening, on some level, the sane part of myself was watching in total disbelief, and I began comforting myself, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, take it easy…’ the way you would talk to a child, or perhaps a frightened hamster, to calm it down.”
I certainly can sympathize. Before I started HRT, one of my sons said to me, “You used to have a witching hour. Now you have a witching day.”
It is now quite fashionable to say that when we emerge on the other side of menopause, we will be better for it in many ways—because with the end of monthly hormonal shifts comes a time of physical and emotional calm.
To schedule your consultation with Dr. Grossman, contact Grossman Dermatology today!