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5 Ways to Dismantle the Menopausal Threat to Our Life and Bank Account

You are probably aware of the black maternal health crisis-black mothers are 2-3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.  But we also need to know that black womens’ lives are at risk during the midlife years as they experience menopause earlier than white women and have symptoms (i.e. hot flashes) that are more severe than white women.

I remember waking up every day soaking wet from night sweats. I would walk to the bathroom to shower and when I looked in the mirror and saw my face with a new acne breakout, I was even more annoyed. I basically started my day feeling disgusted and annoyed. But, as a practicing physician, I couldn’t let my patients know that or my colleagues. I put on my happy face. I smiled and pretended that I was ok. I strutted in the office with my pretty skirts and cute shoes so on the outside it looked like I had my ish together but on the inside, I was feeling like a HOT mess…literally.  I also was trying to manage my high blood pressure without medication by trying to eat better and exercise more. However, the pressures of being a busy physician and trying to be a “perfect” mom to my 3 kids didn’t allow me to take those efforts seriously. So I eventually needed to take medication daily, which I hated.

I was tired…tired of feeling disgusting…tired of looking at my pizza face….really got tired of just me. I didn’t like myself. I snapped at my husband and kids for silly reasons.  I turned into this cranky woman at home and in the office…I stopped looking forward to seeing patients in the office or solving anyone’s problems…and THIS was not like me. 

I didn’t recognize me. 

Then, my brain fog and memory loss was affecting how I performed in the office. This was embarrassing and disheartening.

I was EXHAUSTED. But again, I continued to push through because that’s what I was supposed to do, right? I had a husband and 3 kids who needed to be tended to. I had hundreds of patients to take care of…there was no room for rest or room to take care of me. I got frequent headaches which I ignored just like I ignored my menopausal symptoms. I tried to wish them away because I just didn’t have time to address them…too busy. This eventually became a threat. 

After a long day in the office, I picked my 3 kids up from daycare and school. I was SO tired. I was driving home and could barely keep my eyes open. I got to a stop light and dozed off for a few seconds. I gripped the steering wheel and pulled off praying that God will get me and my kids home safely. I remember wishing I had toothpicks to keep my eyes open like they showed in those old cartoons back in the day. I rolled my window down, sipped on water, and whispered “c’mon gurl, wake up!” Meanwhile, all 3 kids were watching a movie on the video screens in the back eating snacks unaware of Mommy struggling to stay awake. I dozed off for a few seconds 2 more times but thankfully made it home safely.

This was the day when I realized that perimenopause, actually me ignoring my perimenopausal physical and mental changes became a threat to not only my life but the lives of my children. So, I decided that what I was doing or not doing was no longer sustainable and I needed to change.

Vasomotor symptoms, which are hot flashes and night sweats, have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease which is the #1 killer of women. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. I had both!

And generally, the decline in estrogen can increase our blood pressure as well as our cholesterol which increases our risk for cardiovascular disease.

Outside of our personal well-being, menopause can affect our livelihood too. Research has shown that the annual cost of lost work days is $1.8 billion and that nearly $25 billion in medical costs are due to disruptive menopausal symptoms like vasomotor symptoms. 

My menopausal symptoms were very disruptive but I didn’t take any days off from work due to the pressure of being the “perfect” doctor who showed up no matter what despite feeling like crap every day. I realized that I wasn’t performing at my full potential given the disruption my symptoms caused which created feelings of overwhelm, disgust, and less confidence.

After reflecting on my own experience as well as hearing other black womens’ experiences, I realized that this is how we die. We allow the pressures of being “perfect” in everything we do or pressure to do ALL the things in the career, motherhood and any other spaces….causes us to put the mental and physical changes that we experience or issues in our health on the back burner until something comes up that knocks us all the way down.  We don’t give ourselves permission to BE STILL, rest and take care of ourselves with intention.

But, you don’t have to do this anymore. You are WORTHY of just being instead of always doing. You are WORTHY of rest.  You are WORTHY of optimal healthcare.

You can start dismantling the threat of menopause by….


Prioritizing your health & wellness before any person or job is key.  Asking yourself important questions….Is this job or the tasks for this job compromising my health? Am I putting this person’s expectations of me above the expectations I have for myself?

  • Keep annual GYN appointments to continue conversations around menopausal symptoms, new and old. Discuss what’s working and not working. Advocate for the options that best suit you and your lifestyle.

Also, keep annual physical exams with your general practitioner to monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These numbers are important when assessing risk for cardiovascular disease.

  • Move your body by making your physical self-care a part of your lifestyle, not just a luxury. Exercise is not only something you get to do but also something you have to do to optimize multiple body systems…heart, musculoskeletal and brain.  Pick an exercise that you enjoy because if you don’t enjoy it, then it becomes more like a chore.

  • Unload stressors. You don’t have to DO ALL the things. Pick and choose what aligns with what you want and need in this season of your life. And remember “No” is a complete sentence. Decreasing stress can lessen the intensity of menopausal symptoms which can also allow you more capacity to work smarter, not harder.

  • Acknowledge symptoms instead of ignoring them. More importantly, acknowledge the feelings associated with the symptoms because many times it's not the actual symptoms that are the most bothersome, it is the feeling associated with it that is the most bothersome.  Feelings of disgust, less confidence, or sadness can be overwhelming and eventually get in the way of you following your dreams. When you acknowledge the symptom and feeling, you can then ask yourself what you need and want to feel good in your skin again. Changing your response to symptoms then gives you permission to honor your needs. Then, those symptoms no longer negatively affect how you show up in your workplace or business and compromise your livelihood. You can show up as your FULL self.

Through my own journey and in speaking to other midlife women, I realized that radical self-care that consists of these 5 steps is necessary to turn the menopausal transition into a haven instead of a battleground where we are fighting for our lives and livelihood. We can not only dismantle the threat of menopause but also elevate our sense of self so that we walk into this season of our lives as our BEST selves.

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