Live Better. Love Better. Work Better.

Utilizing Psychotherapy for Aging Women’s Health Concerns

Shannon M. Duffy, MFT, LCPC

One topic that all of us women will experience at some point in our lives tends to be a taboo topic. Menopause is a taboo topic. Many of us have feared Menopause, due to the stigma, stereotypes, and what it “means” for us as women when we enter out of our reproductive stages. The challenging aspect of discussing Perimenopause and Menopause is that every woman will have a different experience, different onset, a different combination of symptoms, and need different solutions or treatments. This is where psychotherapy can provide guidance and understanding of the stressors that occur physically, mentally, and emotionally at the start and through the continuation of Menopause. Ideally, it needs to be an open topic for all women to help educate those who are starting to experience symptoms and to eliminate this stigma and misconceptions of this natural transition. 

Menopause is a biological transition that every woman will experience as they age into the middle and later adulthood. Many OB/GYN practitioners do not even start the conversation until symptoms are being experienced. Once those symptoms start, they can bring on feelings of confusion, lack of information, and impact our overall well-being. The taboo aspect of discussing menopause is that once you gather information about the stages, symptoms, treatments, and timeline it becomes more complex and confusing to assume what you are experiencing is Menopause or just life stressors. 

Women in their 40’s and even their 30’s will start the phase of Perimenopausal, this is the transition stage to Menopause, which tends to be more common for women in their 50’s and 60’s. The main signifier is the drop in producing estrogen. This can be diagnosed through blood tests to address changes in hormones. Menstruation cycles will become inconsistent, and the onset of the mental and physiological symptoms begins. The frustration for most women is that everyone has an individualized experience and the timeline of how long Perimenopausal will last through menopause is unknown. The classification entails that once the full year of no menstruation cycle occurs then you have passed through Menopause. 

From the misconceptions of Menopause, hot flashes are regularly known when you speak of the symptoms and what is happening to a woman’s body. However, the symptom list is rather extensive and can create distress and impact a woman’s quality of life. The most common physical symptoms consist of fatigue, bloating and weight gain, acne/ skin concerns, night sweats, digestive concerns, migraines, sleep concerns, and vaginal dryness. Understanding the symptoms can help with finding tools to combat the severity of feeling these discomforts. There are many supplements, herbs, in addition to hormone replacement treatments to manage symptoms. Taking a holistic approach towards utilizing food as medicine can help with inflammation and mood swings. Many health professionals in both eastern and western medicine note the need for balance towards managing symptoms. Adding in supplements can be a financial burden with trial and error of what works best, however, it can be beneficial towards finding a healthy approach towards treating hormonal imbalances with the goal of no additional side effects. 

Psychotherapy can be an added tool in addition to utilizing medical providers or naturopaths for hormone balancing. The mental and emotional symptoms of Menopause can create brain fog, depression, anxiety, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and overall irritability. Psychotherapy can provide tools for emotional regulation of feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration. Mindfulness is one tool to add to therapy to stay more focused on regulating emotions and to stay in the moment. Stress from the unknown of symptoms and the constant changes that are occurring can be the most debilitating. Where this can also cause havoc is within our relationships. Having Psychotherapy as an outlet to address symptoms but also how to communicate them to our partners, family, friends, etc. In addition to irritability within our relationships, many women experience low libido and how that creates stress within their relationships. Overall understanding from our partners can be a challenge in how they may not or simply cannot relate.

We as women tend to have more body awareness; however, the onset of Menopause symptoms can create discomfort and distrust in one’s body. Yes, the physical symptoms of Menopause are easier to point out however the mental health impacts are just as crucial to understand and cope through. Psychotherapy can be that outlet for validation, balance, and overall support through this normal aspect of our lives. 

Symmetry Counseling Recent News Image 4
Recent Posts

When to Go to Couples Therapy? When You Notice These 3 Sign

Apr 30, 2024

Zoe Mittman, LSW If you’re asking the question “when to go to couples therapy”, you are in the right place. I am going to spend some time talking about 3 signs couples therapy may be a good fit for you.…

Read More

Healing the Heart – Tips for How to Get Over a Breakup

Apr 23, 2024

Breakups can be extremely difficult for both the heart and the mind. Grieving the loss of a relationship is taxing both mentally and emotionally. Whether you initiated the breakup or are the individual being broken up with, the pain and…

Read More

Surviving the Holidays: 5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Apr 16, 2024

Paula Gonzalez MA, LPC, ADHD-CCSP, CIMHP                                                                                         The Christmas holiday season can be filled with “tidings of comfort and joy!.” It can also be filled with lots of invitations to holiday parties that will have you “rockin’ around the Christmas tree…

Read More