Menopause and Puberty: A Deadly Combination

Menopause, Puberty, hormones, hormonal changes, mom and teensI think we under-emphasize the terrible coincidence of mom’s who go through menopause at the same time their teenagers are going through puberty.

What a deadly combination…teenagers have hormones raging through their bodies in ways they have never before experienced.  And those hormones influence their thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. Many mother’s also have complete hormone shifts and changes.

Many women reach menopause from ages 45 to 55.  Many teenagers have mothers between the ages of 45 to 55.  This is especially true as women have entered the workforce and opted to defer having children while establishing their careers.  The number of older mothers has reached record numbers and is growing.  Deferring childbearing has the effect of having menopausal mothers who are rearing teens during what will be a hormonally challenging time for mother and child. Add a midlife crisis for a husband/father who is in his 40s or 50s as he faces a teen with new needs, and you have a recipe for family disaster, unless everyone educates themselves on the issues and gains some coping strategies.

If teenagers go through puberty at the same time that their mothers go through menopause, there is likely to be house chaos and war.  Let’s look at some of the symptoms that teenagers and menopausal women share.*

Teenagers:                                                  Menopausal Women:

Physical:                  Emotional:               Physical:                     Emotional:                     

 

Weight gain                 Depression                Weight gain                   Depression

Breast discomfort        Anxiety                      Breast tenderness          Anxiety

Increased appetite       Irritability                 Increased appetite        Irritability

Muscle/joint pain        Loss of motivation    Muscle/joint pain         Loss of Motivation

 

Of course, the list goes on.  For menopausal women, these symptoms include hot flashes, dizziness, memory loss, and nervous tension.  For teenagers, the symptoms include increased body awareness, growing pains, and increased sexual appetite at top the list.

As you can see, some life experiences and emotional challenges are the same for teenagers and for women going through menopause. Knowing this makes it easier to understand why mothers and their teenagers can have huge emotional blowouts and misunderstandings—they both have mood swings, depression and irritability!  No wonder there is so much fighting going on!

The misunderstandings between teenagers and their fathers can be hormonally based as well.  Fathers lose testosterone as they age.  They recognize that certain dreams and goals may not be achieved.  Prostate issues may cause sexual dysfunction and a feeling of being less than a man.  Many men experience these issues but have no skill set for recognizing their feelings and putting them into words.  Their resulting confusion and upset state makes life very difficult to handle.  Add to this mix a hysterical teen and a wife going through the change, and it is a wonder that teens survive to adulthood.

What Can We Do?

1. Simply being aware of the fact that many of our emotional ups and downs are hormonally based will take a lot of the shame and guilt off of fights and blow-ups.

2. We need to discuss these changes with our family members. Many times, teenagers know about puberty and they might know about menopause, but they certainly do not put two and two together that this can be a deadly mix.

3. I think another way we can avoid the easy traps is to understand our hormonal cycles. Some teenagers are great in the morning, but feel very emotional or depressed in the late afternoon. We need to recognize our own cycles (and good times of the day and bad times) and be clear with our family members about them. If the late afternoon is a rough time for your teenager talk to them about taking alone time them and do not initiate discussions or activities during that time until hormones regulate. Moms can also be aware of their cycles if they know that they are irritable in the morning for example, they should get as much done the night before and let teens know it is a rocky time for them.

I think learning about this combination and working together to avoid the problems it causes can greatly reduce unneeded tension in a household.



* July 18, 2006.  <http://www.medicinenet.com/menopause/article.htm.>

 

Photo: By tejamen1947 from Flickr

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