Now there’s a title I never thought I’d write but the time has come and boy is it getting hot in here! The menopause symptoms are here and it’s time to share the knowledge.
This year I turned 50. That’s no secret, I have tried to embrace this number as much as I can but I won’t lie, it still scares me and I still think of it as old. Said that, I am still battling on and trying my best to live life to its fullest. In actual fact my life has never been busier and more fulfilling.
One thing I have kept secret though, is the menopause as the very word seems to have an air of ‘disapproval’ about it. No one talks about it. It’s like a dirty word and something to be swept under the carpet.
I find this a bit weird if I am honest. I have had regular periods every month of my life since I was 11 and I haven’t enjoyed one of them, oh apart from those times I thought I may be pregnant when I seriously didn’t want to be pregnant. I have always looked on this part of being a woman as a pain, something to endure and I’ve been waiting since I had the twins for it all to finish.
I am fully appreciative of the fact that I was ‘lucky’. I had regular cycles, regular ovulation and therefore was able to get pregnant and today, I have four beautiful children as a result. But there were painful months, frightening months, heavy months and months when my period would last way longer than the normal 4/5 days.
However, I am pleased to announce my last period was in August, let’s have a fanfare, balloons and party!
Four months with no cycle, can you imagine how wonderful that is? No more sore boobs, no erratic mood swings (well maybe a few, ahem). No pains in my back or in my tummy, no headaches and of course no blood, that has to be the very best part. I am still prepared and carry around the necessary in my handbag just in case, but I’ve not had to buy any sanitary items for four months now.
However, on the down side of this magnificent milestone comes a lot of brand new symptoms that my body is having to get to grips with.
These are pure fire. There is no mistaking a hot flush and I have got so good at recognising when one is on its way that I can start to strip and prepare before the onslaught. To have an idea of what a hot flush is like, this is how I experience one. I start to feel hot, I wriggle a bit in my clothing and take off a layer if I can, luckily it’s winter and I am normally wearing a cardigan. I then feel the flush travel, my entire back heats up as if I am resting against an oven door, my neck is hot and starts to sweat, my face starts to sweat, I start to rub the sweat most likely removing any make up I happen to be wearing and I start to pin my hair up so cool air can reach the back of my neck. My chest is hot, my thighs are hot, my feet are hot. Then as quickly as it started, it disappears. I replace my socks and my cardigan, lower my hair and thank my body that it has passed. That is a hot flush and they can be quite frequent on certain days.
As autumn approached this year and the temperatures dropped I changed our lovely light 4.5 tog duvet for the winter one envisioning long winter nights snuggled up underneath, nice and cosy. Last month I gave up and reverted back to the summer duvet! A night sweat is like a hot flush but happens when you are sleeping and blissfully unaware so you are woken in a pool of your own sweat, throwing back the covers, opening the windows and stripping out of your pyjamas. It’s like someone turned the thermostat up to 100C.
Another symptom of the menopause is shivering and usually alternates with hot flushes. Picture a woman sitting down for a nice evening on the sofa, she starts to shiver and drags a throw over her to warm up, she grabs a nice hot cup of tea and settles only to be disturbed by an oncoming hot flush. Put down the tea, take off the throw, strip socks, cardigans and anything else that can be easily removed. The shivering is just as irritating as a hot flush as it seems you are cold through to the core.
Loss of libido
I was hoping they were lying when I first read this symptom but they are not. However, do not despair, it’s not like it’s over for good, it’s just not top of your priority list any more. I find a hard week at work, challenging children, extra homework and the normal run to run of the family home is sometimes enough to make me just want to fall into the deepest sleep once I hit the mattress so it’s very hard to pinpoint a loss of libido amongst all of that.
Another one difficult to pinpoint and blame on the menopause, after all I have been having mood swings since my periods started. Having said that, I did have enormous rage yesterday for the most trivial of reasons (we argued about putting the rubbish out and I sent a text in capital letters later on to state my case – unnecessary but hey ho). My problem with rage is I don’t recognise it until it has passed and then I nod and say, ‘Ah, rage again!’ I just wish I could spot this before and therefore eliminate it.
I think the most important thing to keep in mind whilst journeying through the menopause is to be aware and embrace the moment; it’s going to come so learn how to manage it to the best of your abilities.
Products to help
I was sent a couple of products by Promensil about a month ago, a spray that is used during a hot flush as it pulls the heat to the surface of the skin which I have found to be very helpful indeed. It smells nice too. The second product is a box of tablets with isoflavones from red clover, one of the world’s richest sources of isoflavoes. These tablets, taken once a day help maintain a good general health as well as bone and cholesterol health. I love the spray and have been taking the tablets although I am very forgetful. I think it’s something I shall continue with for the health benefits.
Disclosure: Promensil sent me the products mentioned, all opinions are my own.