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Minnie Pawse

Today is World Menopause Day. I’m not sure if we are supposed to “celebrate” menopause, but, for women, there is comfort in knowing that, while going through it, you are not alone.

When it comes to menopause, I was one of the lucky ones.

I had a complete hysterectomy at age 42. The doctor prescribed estrogen pills to help my body remember its feminine side, I guess. About a year post-hyst, I was teaching Body Pump classes at Golds Gym. Many of the women in my classes were taking the class to fortify their bone mass and prevent osteoporosis. Some were menopausal or post-menopausal. Now, as you probably are aware, when a group of women get together and sweat together, remedies for any malady you may be experiencing (runny noses to hangnails) abound. Of course, I had to chime in and relate the story of my recent hysterectomy. It seemed to be the consensus of the group that I would lead a long, happy, healthy life without a uterus and ovaries so long as I didn’t take estrogen.


They told me that the estrogen that doctors were prescribing at that time was made of horse pee and was not healthy. I trusted my exercise friends a lot more than my male doctor, so, of course, I quit taking it.

The first week or so was great, but then, my body slammed full speed into the menopause brick wall. I ached, I cried, I sweated, and sweated, and sweated. And then, after two months, BAM! It was over.

Now, I’m not a doctor, and I certainly would never tell someone what to do with their own body. I would love to tell you that I have lived happily ever after with no blips since I quit taking estrogen, but I’d be lying. I still occasionally cry for no reason, ache and have a hot flash every now and then. But, I never suffered for months and years with menopausal symptoms like so many of my friends have. Like I said, I was lucky.

If you are a woman of “that age” you have probably heard all the jokes and seen tv spoofs about the plights of menopausal women. But it’s no laughing matter. It is a wild ride of hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings, tummy pooches, and sleepless nights. When you are pre- or post-menopausal, it’s hard to know what to say to show support to friends that are in the thick of it. Trust me, a nod and an understanding hug is better than saying the WRONG thing to a menopausal woman. So, to support your menopausal friends (and protect yourself) here are a few things never to say to someone who is going through “the change.” If you are a guy reading this, Capt’n Clean suggests that you read closely.

“Oh Sugar, You are Too Young for Menopause”

According to the Institute on Aging, the average age of a woman’s last period is 51, but some experience menopause in their 40s. So even if you are just trying to make her feel better, let a health care professional tell her what’s really going on.

“Oh Sweetie, Did You Forget to Take Your Hormones?”

I’m living proof that not everything in a woman’s body revolves around hormones, in my case, estrogen. If you think that hormones will prevent your wacky moods, bloating and weight gain, think again.

“Oh Honey, You Look Like You Haven’t Slept in Days”

This is probably not a good thing to say to anyone, but for menopausal women it’s a big no-no. Night sweats are night terrors rather than wet dreams. They are no fun. It’s hard to sleep when you are drowning in a bed of perspiration. And of course, as we all know, lack of sleep can lead to fatigue and moodiness.

“Oh Darlin’, It’s Not That Hot In Here”

For those of you that have never had one, a hot flash feels like you have scorching heat rushing through your body. They are usually sudden too, so, heaven forbid, it really bites if you are surrounded by people when it happens. Your face gets red, you sweat like a horse and, at least for me, your brain blanks out. I carried a personal fan with me when I was going through this. Hot flashes definitely don’t mean that you are a hottie!.

“Oh Baby, Your Hair…Is it Different?”

Grrr. This one really chaps me. During menopause, women start to lose hair on their heads and GROW hair on their chins, upper lips and neck. That’s just the way it is. Tweezers are your friend.

“Oh My Dear, I Can’t Believe you Have to Go To The Bathroom Again

Well you better believe it. Menopausal women often go through light leakage and feel the urge to “go” frequently. The last thing they need is someone to point this out to them.

The good news about menopause is that it doesn’t last forever and there are a lot of things you can do to make the transition easier. Things like getting plenty of rest, eating a healthy calcium-rich diet, exercising regularly, and fortifying your support group will help to ease the freakiness of the big “M.”

Take a deep breath and reach for your fan. You’ve got this Wimpy Girl.

“Menopause. A pause while you reconsider men.”
~ Margaret Atwood

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This work by Anel “Pookie” Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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