Menopause, Peri-menopause: Oh great, this is a joy!

I’m early forties. So things I worry about are:

  • My face falling (I have thought about, but never yet had, botox since my mid 30s);
  • My boobs trailing to my knees (they are big enough but, if I do say so myself, pretty ok);
  • Wobbly bits (yep I have them….its just a few curves!…curves I am trying to get rid of);
  • The age range of who I am dating (apparently at this age you attract either young men or older men);
  • How much wine I have in the fridge;
  • How healthy I am aiming to be without removing the wine from the fridge (hence Kefir, Yoga etc. etc.); and
  • How I can fit in all the healthy stuff whilst still going out (I feel like one dinner out means I suck up at least a kilo in weight gain).

I haven’t ever worried about the menopause. I didn’t ever know that there was even a thing called peri-menopause. Maybe that was naive of me. Maybe it is because I can’t ever remember my mum having issues. Maybe it is because its not talked about much. If I think about these things – maybe it is because I decided to not pay attention. If my mum had issues with menopause I was probably, at the time, being overly dramatic and self indulgent. If my (‘older’) friends have talked about it I am quite likely to have gone outside for a cigarette. Well not now! Now I am being hit with hot flushes/flashes I am fully attentive to any chat and advice.

The awkward chats

After a few weeks of feeling a few flushes happen I started to think that this was probably it; the end of life as I know it! Not that I am still overly dramatic and self indulgent but the problem was I was working last weekend and the flushes were hitting me a lot. My approach to dealing with this (as with a lot of things) – no point in trying to hide it. I’d rather people didn’t think I was constantly embarrassed, and I am not particularly embarrassed about my age. So any hint of a flush and I just say, to the unfortunate person in front of me, “oh my face is red…it’s an age thing”. At least the effect of this has been that a few (probably younger male colleagues) also went red. At least we all have red faces. One bloke tried to enter into a conversation with me about it. It was hilarious. I left saying “thanks. I’m glad we had this chat, I feel much better” whilst everyone else in the vicinity was giggling uncontrollably.

How long does this bloody last?

Then I had the chat with my mum (whilst my dad interjected with a few words of wisdom here and there). It went along the lines of. What age were you? What did you get? Did you pee yourself (this hasn’t happened to me, by the way, but it was on the list of symptoms that I googled). How long does this bloody last? The answers. Late 40’s but, by the way, peri-menopause can last about 4 years before it starts. Eh! Oh yes -apparently, according to my mum (and confirmed by my later googling), menopause including the peri bit can last forever. Ok not forever. But there can be years before the actual menopause and years (up to 10) to go through when you finally do hit menopause. So in summary, my mum had flushes but not much else. This might be good news for me. She had her menopause in her late forties. So it makes sense that I am starting to get the symptoms and probably means (although I might get a blood test or two to confirm) that I am in peri-menopause. My dad said she had mood swings. I am not sure how he figured out they were different from any other time. He did note however that as I am generally a moody git no one would notice with me. Thanks dad!

The final chat was with my hairdresser yesterday. I think we can all rely on hairdressers to know these kind of things because they talk a lot. They talk a lot to women. So we kind of whispered (which is pretty amusing when you think about the location and who was around….women) but she is a year older than me and she was quite definite about being in peri-menopause mainly due to the hot flushes.

The Advice

There is a general list of symptoms which include: hot flushes, night sweats, problems sleeping, peeing when coughing or sneezing (I better not get this!), irregular periods, vaginal dryness (hell no!) etc. etc. The advice is…lacking. It is the same advice that is trundled out with most life / health complaints. This is both unsurprising and unhelpful. The remedy for hot flushes is apparently to stop drinking coffee, stop drinking alcohol and stop smoking. As this is pretty much my whole life I will just continue with the telling people approach instead. Whilst writing this I have noticed how small this paragraph in comparison to the others is. I have also noticed how the advice on managing symptoms sounds like advice that is rolled out every time there is no good answer. Get fitter, lose weight, be healthy. All in all – helpful (not)! The one little gem may be the birth control pill. Apparently it can help manage symptoms. Pill popped :-).

The questions

I have loads. I don’t know whether I really am interested in the answers but there are things that just aren’t clear. Why do we know so little? When do you need to go to your doctor? Do tests work (bloods, FSH) and what good will they be? How can I date men if my face keeps going red? Will I pee myself (Kegal exercises now on daily task list just in case)? Do I need to go through this for the next 15 years? Where are all the other red faced women? Are they wearing some kind of green base layer that stops us seeing them? I probably have more.

There are a few things I will do. Maybe a home test kit for FSH levels and then a trip to the doctor for a blood test. I might even get a book as long as it doesn’t bang on about making friends with the menopause (yes these condescendingly and no doubt boring books exist). This one from kindle looks like it has potential.

The impact

If I start banging on about the menopause in future posts then please someone stop me!

In all honesty it probably won’t be the worst thing. I could be doing with getting to the end of it though. I might this back if I turn into a raging hormone driven mad woman. If I start banging on about the menopause in future posts then please stop me! I will take any good advice though.

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