Menopausal Me: A tall glass of ice water and a desktop fan flank my computer today.

This week’s menopause headlines carry familiar topics: heart health, hot flashes/flushes, insomnia, bone health, and bio-identical hormones vs. pharmaceutical. Yet, there’s numerous stories — almost too many to count – with the same name: Angelina Jolie. Who can do menopause better than she can? And, a forced menopause to boot!

I don’t know about you, but my entry into menopause was pretty ordinary and certainly did not grace the pages of the New York Times or any other newspaper. Honestly, I’m grateful my life is not that newsworthy. I am also hopeful about Jolie’s open discussion about her health. If her experience opens doors for more women to actively question and discuss their health care options, then her letter, and many of the follow-up stories, will do a world of good. Still, despite the lively news coverage the announcement brought, it’s sometimes difficult for those of us with the ordinary, run-of-the-mill symptoms to relate this event to our own experience. What does it mean for the rest of us? Maybe it’s a wake-up call.

That got me reviewing the past week. How did I treat Menopausal Me? I went through my quick-and-dirty checklist:

Exercise: Got my walk in today and a few times last week; need more yoga sessions.
Diet: Taking my multivitamins and supplements, ate fish two or three times this week and more fresh foods; maybe a bit too much wine, but ….
Physical Health: Annual OB appointment this week; need to schedule a mammogram and the Cardiac Calcium scan the doctor recommended.
Memory: Remembered to pick up/drop off everyone this week; attended daughter’s track meet. No work slip-ups.
Mood/Relationships: I’d give this week a high B; little down on Friday after a busy week, but no major blowups with the teens, especially.

Menopausal You

How about you? Have you reviewed your path to menopause? How are you treating yourself?

Jolie emphasized her unique circumstances and very personal choice. ‘I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.’

What is unique about your menopause experience or your overall health?

The recent reevaluation of hormone therapy and new methods of delivering hormones is helping doctors realize each woman’s treatment must meet individual needs. As Jolie’s experience highlights, a woman and her caregivers need to consider a woman’s genetic background, age, lifestyle, and risk factors before recommending a treatment plan. Most cancer experts hailed Jolie’s decision as a breakthrough for women’s health: ‘My hat is off to her,’ said Dr. Robert DeBernardo, a gynecologic oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Ob/Gyn and Women’s Health Institute. ‘She is doing a lot of good for women worldwide by raising awareness of BRCA testing and options women have.’

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about 20,000 women get ovarian cancer, and about 14,500 die from it every year in the United States. So, please, take stock of your menopausal self. There are many options to help us feel vibrant and healthy throughout menopause.

About This Blogger: Kathy Stump

Kathy Stump writes from her home in Parkville, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. For the last two decades, she’s been raising two children, freelance writing, proofreading, and tutoring young readers. Local and regional magazines feature her articles on travel, historic sites, nutrition, and parenting. She’s also reviewed books for Kirkus Reviews and written academic essays for Anaxos, Inc. Reading, walking, and yoga are her favorite pastimes. In her previous life (before kids), Ms. Stump was a museum curator. She studied art history and historic preservation at Mary Washington University and holds a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies and American Civilization from George Washington University.