Today is #WorldMenopauseDay and I consider myself an armchair expert as I’ve been stuck in this unpleasant life stage for MORE THAN TEN YEARS! Don’t worry, dear reader, this only happens to a very small number of women.
Anyway, moving swiftly on, I’m sharing something I wrote elsewhere, with a few new additions. I hope it doesn’t scare you too much…
You see the menopause is a bit like childbirth, but without the possibility of a baby once you’re done. Some sail through it with no symptoms and no problems. Some stoical women just get on with life. Some are saved by HRT. Some swear by this potion, or that regime. The rest of us just drink wine. Even though we know it makes our symptoms worse.
(These have been most of mine, I’m sure there are many, many more. One of my friends just blames everything on the menopause. It’s easier that way)
…The Hot Flush. Queen of all the symptoms.
They will remind you of labour contractions, as they build like a wave…
1. You start to feel irritable.
2. Your ailments become ten times worse.
3. You begin to feel dizzy.
4. You have to stop or slow what you are doing.
5. You can’t think, you just have to try and breathe through it.
6. You start to heat up, it prickles and burns. Then you start to sweat. A scarlet flush may creep up from your chest.
7. Just when you think you can’t take any more, it all fades away. Until the next one. Which might be 10 minutes later.
It took me a long time to think of these…
…Bigger boobs (whether you want them or not!)
…No more periods.
…A final farewell to spot cream.
…No more fiddling around with bits of rubber. Or whatever it is you use. Except you can’t do that immediately, or you could end up with a ‘change of life’ baby. It does happen apparently.
…You can do as you please, and dress as you like. Believe me, unless you’re Sharon Stone no-one will care any more (with the possible exception of any kids you may have), and there’s a certain freedom in that. Time to embrace your inner eccentric!
What you can do
Well I tried everything. HRT was wonderful, but did not agree with me. I spent a small fortune on fancy supplements and special foods, none of which made any difference at all. In desperation I even bought a ‘magic’ magnet that you put in your knickers….what was I thinking?
What does help
HRT: a miracle for some.
Exercise: even though you won’t feel much like it.
A healthy diet: sounds boring, but you’ll probably want to eat more healthily – munch on a burger and it will sit like a rock in your stomach, weighing you down and making you feel worse.
Friends: more important than ever.
Laughter: you just have to laugh at it all.
A little of what you fancy: whether that’s wine, chocolate or crochet. Anything to keep sane and provide a little distraction.
The great outdoors: perhaps that is why gardening is so popular with older women? More than ever I crave fresh air and sunshine.
Antidepressants: Sometimes these really do make a difference.
Makeup: the long lasting stuff
Ice packs: the highlight of House of Cards for me was when Claire stuck her head in the freezer as she felt the heat rising.
Clothing: Denim and black hide a multitude of sweaty patches! So do patterns. Avoid flimsy fabrics and invest in cardigans and anything else you can wriggle out of quickly!
Breathe: Learn to breathe through the hot flushes, and that will stop you panicking.
There are many people who harp on about the menopause being natural. So are lots of other horrible things: it doesn’t mean we have to put up with them.
As for me? Well I keep reminding myself that while the menopause is annoying, embarrassing and exhausting, it’s not a disease and it’s not going to kill me, so things could be a lot worse. I’ve managed to shift most of the weight gain through diet and exercise, and some of the other symptoms have lessened over time, apart from the hot flushes. In the meantime, I will just keep adding to my collection of cardigans…