I usually don’t write about celebrities. But I feel that Angelina Jolie’s story is relevant to many women who are facing challenges with their menstrual cycles, especially during perimenopause and menopause.
At age 37, Angelina had both of her breasts removed after finding out that she carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which made her prone to both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Then two years later, she also had both of her ovaries removed in order to eliminate the possibility of ovarian cancer. So at age 39, she technically entered menopause.
Regarded as one of the sexiest and most beautiful women in the world, Angelina didn’t cry over the loss of her “most desirable assets.” Instead, she embraced her choices and the changes in her life with acceptance, grace, and courage.
As women, we often associate our breasts and ovaries with our femininity, as they help represent our beauty, youthfulness, desirability, and identity as a woman.
And even though we know that all these — the supple skin, sparkling eyes and perky breasts, etc. — will be passing us as we enter into menopause, we still fear it.
We may not admit it publicly. But in private moments when we’re alone, perhaps while looking at ourselves in the mirror and noticing a couple of new lines on our face, we can’t help but feel a trace of sadness or fear.
I think this is quite natural, as menopause is not only unknown and unfamiliar, but it also calls for a significant identity shift. In mythology, it’s the passage from an attractive Maiden and a nurturing Mother to a Wise Woman (the Crone).
If we’re not prepared for menopause – losing hold of our previous identities and roles as women without replacing them with a newer sense of self – we can be thrown off balance by its sudden arrival, and incapacitated by the physical discomforts and mental clogs, as well as the emotional turmoil that comes with it.
When I gave birth to my daughter after a long and arduous labor, I had a clear sense of graduation. I felt that I had passed the tests and crossed the threshold from Maiden to Mother – gaining more responsibility, maturity, and a greater capacity to give and to love.
I think menopause is another major milestone on a woman’s journey – another graduation of some sort. And we have to prepare ourselves for it while we are still in our 30s and 40s.
We can learn about the biological changes that are happening in our body so we don’t panic when they arrive, helping us accept the change while taking better care of ourselves.
We can cultivate a broader and more complete sense of who we are, so as one identity is fading the others are rising stronger, enabling us to become more emotionally stable and mature to handle the new challenges along the way.
For these reasons, I’ve decided to start a column to document and share my learning, thoughts and insights about this new phase of my life as I enter into perimenopause – and as I prepare myself for the arrival of my Second Spring (the Chinese phase for menopause which I absolutely love).
What about you? Have you entered, or are you about to transition into perimenopause? What are your biggest challenges? And what are you most interested in learning and discovering?
To our womanhood, always beautiful, graceful and courageous, at any age…
Chasteberry (proven to help treat low progesterone and regulate menstrual cycles in more than 60 years of clinical research, including 5 randomized trials)
Vitamin B6 (one of the best vitamins to boost progesterone)
Progesterone Cream (bio-identical hormonal support)
Liver Cleanse Detox and Repair Formula (support liver functions)
Dim Plus (improve estrogen metabolism)
Six Flavor Teapills for yin deficiency in Chinese Medicine
Support Adrenal and Thyroid Functions
Adrenal Health Daily Support (promote overall hormone balance)
Thyroid Support Complex (support energy and metabolism)
Once Daily Organic Whole Food Vitamin Supplement (provide essential nutrients for health and hormone balance)
Liquid Iron (support healthy blood)
The Hormone Cure, by Dr. Sara Gottfried
Cooking for Hormone Balance, by Magdalena Wszelaki