If you listen really closely, every so often, you may hear Gayle fanning herself in the studio. Gayle says sometimes, her hot flashes are unbearable! To help her sort out this and other symptoms of menopause, Gayle welcomes Barbara Kantrowitz, co-author with Pat Wingert of Is it Hot in Here? Or Is It me? The Complete Guide to Menopause.
Menopause is diagnosed when a woman has not had a period for one full year, Barbara says. During this time, a woman can experience a variety of symptoms, including hot flashes, fatigue and depression, among others.
"Every aspect of menopause is unique to you," Barbara says. "It's really an individual experience. One of the reasons it's important to have information is so you can distinguish what's normal and what isn't and when you might need to call your doctor and the kinds of things you can handle by yourself."
Barbara says it's normal for menopause to begin anytime between the ages of 40 and 58. However, even when you're in your 30s, you may experience some symptoms.
"This is not just something that happens when you're old—it happens really in midlife, when you least expect it," Barbara says. "We also think it's also really important for younger women to understand the changes that will be happening to their bodies so that they can prepare for it."
Barbara says even before women enter menopause, they should be planning for it. Staying physically active, keeping your weight under control and managing your stress are all important things to do in advance of menopause. "All these things become really critical issues at menopause, and if you had developed healthy habits all your life, [they can really help during menopause]," Barbara says.
Barbara says she and Pat wanted to write the book to get information that is rarely talked about out in the open. Like pregnancy and breast cancer just a few decades ago, menopause still seems to be a taboo subject, Barbara says. "It happens to every woman—that's what makes it such a universal thing, that's why we should talk about it.
"It will help women feel more comfortable about their bodies, understand aging, and I think it will save lives because we'll takes steps to make ourselves healthy."