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18 Things Every Woman Should Know About Menopause

3 Chats You Must Have About "The Change"

Yes, ladies. There's more than one "sex talk" you need to think about. After interviewing experts and real women across the country we found there are three critical conversations you should start when it comes to menopause.

In your to your mom.

For Mary Mustakas, 46, that chat explained an eye-opening event of her youth: "I walked in on mom sitting at her sewing machine, sweat pouring down her face with a fan blowing on her—completely naked!" she says. The hot flash incident wasn't discussed for more than a decade, but now that Mustakas is dealing with symptoms of perimenopause, she's grateful that her mom opened up about what to expect. While your experience won't be identical to mom's (other factors, like your health, play a role), your onset and symptoms may be similar. Research shows, for example, that you're six times more likely to go through early menopause if your mom or sister did.

In your to your family.

"We take our worst emotions out on the people we love most," says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., Family Circle Health Advisory Board Member and co-author of V Is for Vagina (Ulysses). "Mood swings in the years before menopause can make it seem like you're driving a truck and your partner is the pavement." Let your family know there will be times when you won't feel your best and will be short-tempered but you're trying.

In your to your doctor.

Approximately 50 to 60 percent of women experiencing menopausal symptoms don't chat up their doc about the change. "Often that's because they don't know what to ask," says Cynthia Stuenkel, M.D., clinical professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of California-San Diego. The Endocrine Society developed the Menopause Map ( to guide patients toward potential treatment options and provide a printable list of questions, like:

  • Could my symptoms come from something other than menopause?
  • What non-hormonal prescription and over-the-counter drugs interact with my current medications?
  • If I do start hormonal therapy, what's the lowest dose that will work for me?

Make a customized list for your next doctor's visits and get the answers you need to smooth your transition.

Originally published in the September 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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