Lisa Phillips-Moore is a real estate agent from Pennsylvania who has been living with menopause.
Before you realized you were going through menopause, what kinds of symptoms did you have?
In hindsight it was obvious, but I had no idea. I thought menopause started in your 50s, so I wasn’t even paying attention. Over a period of two months at the beginning of fall, I began to feel very hot all of the time. It was like there was this odd humidity happening in my body, and I was sweating like it was the middle of summer.
I was also having problems sleeping, and trust me, sleeping has never been a problem for me. I’d have insane energy during the day despite my lack of sleep, but because I was always so hot, I figured something was wrong. I thought it was something serious, but my mother called and said, “You may be going through menopause.” Frankly, she seemed thrilled to tell me that! It then occurred to me that my period was lasting for fewer and fewer days. So I bit the bullet and went to my doctor.
What was your reaction when your doctor told you that you were going through menopause?
Well, my mom sort of ruined the surprise, and thank goodness she did. I literally had no idea that I would be going through menopause. I handled it well — it wasn’t the end of the world. To be honest, I was just happy to finally find out the reason why I was feeling the way I did.
How open were you about your menopause? Did you readily tell people, or were you selective?
I told my husband, and he just made jokes about it. My kids started calling me “Grandma,” and I have to admit that the humor really helped.
If I were in an office all day, I probably wouldn’t share it with my co-workers. However, I’m in real estate, and a lot of my clients are women my age. It actually ended up being a pretty good conversation piece for many of my clients, and it was interesting to find out how they were dealing with it. Everyone deals with it differently.
Do you remember the first time you learned about menopause?
I remember being at the beach when I was 12 years old, and I was with my mother and all of my aunts and cousins. I got my period for the first time that day. One my aunts, Aunt Charlotte, who was about 60 years old, said to me, “You’re going to have your period every month for the next 40 years. Then one day, it’s going to stop forever, and you’ll go through ‘the change.’ It’s going to be the worst thing that ever happens to you!” She was definitely the kind of lady who enjoyed scaring people. I never forgot that, but all my life, I just figured I’d go through “the change” when I was as old as she was.
What part of menopause was the worst for you, personally?
The hot flashes were definitely rather unbearable; I’m not going to lie. But for me, the emotional impact of thinking, “Wow, now I’m officially old,” really threw me for a loop. The reality was that I still felt as young as I always felt, so to have this biological reality that my body was getting older whether I liked it or not really depressed me. Getting gray hairs is one thing, but the psychological impact of knowing you’re never going to give birth again, even if you have no intention of doing so, can definitely affect you.
What were some of the positive aspects going through menopause?
That’s a tough one! I would say that I was lucky in the fact that because of my line of work, my going through menopause definitely helped me with my clients, and those clients ended up being good friends of mine. I’m also lucky that my husband and two sons sort of got me through it with humor. They were funny, but they were also extremely helpful and very supportive. In fact, for the two years I went through menopause, I’ve never known them to be as helpful.
Is there anything you miss about menstruating?
At first, I really did miss it, if you can believe that. I almost feel like it’s something you take for granted until you go through menopause. You don’t realize through your life what a blessing getting your period can be, until it stops. But other than that, no, I don’t miss it now at all.
What are your thoughts on the word “menopause”? Do you like it? If you could rename it, what would you call it?
There’s a stigma around the word for sure. It just sounds… bad. It has such a negative connotation. I think they should change the name. Maybe if they changed it to something lively and fun, the stigma would go away. I mean that.
Tell us one funny story about your journey through menopause…
I mentioned my husband and boys being so supportive and how they made jokes about me all the time, which was actually very funny. But the truth is, I milked my menopause for all it was worth! If you want to make men and boys do something for you, just act like you’re about to cry, and they’ll jump through hoops and do anything possible to avoid seeing their mother’s tears. So my advice is to milk it as long as you can. We deserve it!