A renowned authority on women's health, Dr. Christiane Northrup anwers questions about the myths, realities, and possibilities that the "change of life" offers to women--physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

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schubird123: What are the spiritual lessons I can learn from menopause? So far, it seems like only physical symptoms that need to be dealt with.

chris_northrup_md: Sometimes a few physical symptoms are the only challenges one will find at menopause. There is no need to look for spiritual challenges if all is well with your life.

ferretgirl75063: I had a mastectomy four months ago. No chemo, no radiation. I have not menstruated in three months. Menopause in my family is 50ish. Can a mastectomy cause early menopausal onset?

chris_northrup_md: A mastectomy itself will not cause early onset, but the physiologic stress associated with surgery could cause several months of missed periods which may mimic menopause. Chances are that your periods will restart.

speciallady43604: I've had a partial hysterectomy. I'm now 53 and don't know if I've gone through menopause. How will I know?

chris_northrup_md: Most people who have had their uterus removed but who retain their ovaries will experience things such as hot flashes. This may be the only symptom you will have. Others go through mood swings, insomnia, PMS-type symptoms. Each case is individual.

schubird123: You've spoken about the increase in energy that can come with menopause. Why do you think this happens?

chris_northrup_md: There is a kind of increase in life force available to us at menopause if we open to our spirits. New growth begins in the spring; menopause is the springtime of the second half of life.

At the same time, we have a heightened sense of our mortality, so we feel a certain urgency to get on with those things which we've always wanted to do but which we've kept putting off until later.

asimpkinson: Dr. Northrup's book "The Wisdom of Menopause" has recently been published by Bantam Books. For more information about Dr. Northrup's upcoming events, newsletter, workshops, etc., log on to www.drnorthrup.com.

w_coppock: How is menopause an opportunity for growth?

chris_northrup_md: For the same reason that menopause is associated with new energy or this midlife life force, it is also associated with a sense of dying to our old obsolete ways of being in the world. Oftentimes the beliefs and behavior that have served us well and helped us survive the first half of life must be revised or eliminated. If we don't change, we set ourselves up for disease and premature death.

Unlike in adolescence, when we were certain we were immortal, we've now lived long enough to witness all around us friends and

beliefnet.com/love-family/community.aspx" target="_blank" class="bn-keyword">family members.... So menopause becomes an opportunity to direct our lives on purpose and according to our inner needs.