Scientific research has proven what most of us already know—that pets are good for our physical and mental health. But what about the benefits of pet ownership during menopause? The “change of life” brings numerous challenges, including depression, anxiety (intensified with the onset of hot flashes), insomnia, rapid mood swings, and overall discomfort. This leaves plenty of women feeling isolated since no one in their family is experiencing the same physical and emotional unease brought on by fluctuating hormones. However, many women claim that their pets have the surprising ability to reduce stress and can even offer some much-needed support.
Humans share a unique bond with their four-legged friends, similar to their relationship with close family members. But what makes companionship with pets so special? First, animals are non-judgemental creatures that will love you no matter what—even when your hormones are wreaking havoc on your body. Sadly, not all humans have the same degree of empathy or patience for someone in the throes of raging hormones. With pets, however, it doesn’t matter if you’re feeling grumpy, annoyed, or depressed—your furry friend will still offer love and affection when you need it the most.
Pets also help restore a woman’s sense of structure when she feels like everything else in her menopausal life is out of control. Animals need routine, which forces their owners to stick to a regular schedule. This makes menopausal females feel like their old selves again despite the changes occurring in their bodies.
How else can pets help women survive the ups and downs of menopause? First, they bring humor back into your life with their adorable, silly antics. More importantly, their presence will remind you what it feels like to be loved, even when you feel unlovable. Another benefit is that if your furry companion is a dog, chances are you meet other dog owners during your walks or hanging out at the local dog park. This helps women who feel isolated by menopause get out of the house more often and socialize.
Aside from the emotional support pets offer menopausal women, there are also plenty of physical benefits. Studies have shown that cuddling an animal lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, which is especially beneficial for anyone who suffers from anxiety as part of their menopause symptoms. Spending quality time with a pet also elevates serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, which helps alleviate symptoms of depression–another issue related to menopause. Not surprisingly, pet owners have lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels than people who don’t own pets. Dogs are especially good for your health since they need daily walks and playtime. They keep their owners active, and exercise is the best way to reduce menopause weight gain.
Since animals have a stronger sense of smell than humans, many pets are able to detect hormonal changes in a woman’s body. For example, blood sugar levels can change during menopause and become problematic if a female is already overweight and prone to diabetes. But certain animals can detect the hormonal changes in body odor and alert their owners before insulin levels become dangerously low, which could save a life!
If menopause has you feeling down, consider adopting a pet. It will be therapeutic for both of you, and you’ll have a gift of unconditional love that will improve your quality of life for years to come.
Author Bio: Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of Who Stole My Spandex? Life In The Hot Flash Lane and the voice behind the midlife blog, Menopausal Mother. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Independent, U.S.A. Today/Reviewed, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, AARP, Woman’s Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, and many others. You can find her at http://www. marciakesterdoyle.com