Tag Archives: menopause

Beauty woman is showing middle finger

No teenagers welcomed here

The final countdown to my son’s departure to University and my menopausal symptoms have a real hold of me.

I’m not sure if it’s depression, or the fact it’s September blues or hormones, either way coping with two rebellious teenagers and one stroppy mother (aka me) is making the house a war zone.Mother With Teenage Son Sitting On Sofa At Home

I would probably have more success negotiating my way out of an Al Qaeda cell than trying to get my two to do ANYTHING.

Three weeks into the new school term and I have my fourteen year old telling me how busy he is with homework now he is in the upper school.

‘So much homework mum, can’t possibly help’, when I asked him to clean the oven hob.

He is grumpy and monosyllabic first thing in the morning and woe betide you touch his crown, that’s his hair to you and me.

My 18 year old finds it almost impossible to stir much before 10:30am, preferring the comfort of his room until the house is empty.

Apparently he IS STILL ON HOLIDAY and so doesn’t think staying in bed until mid-day is unreasonable, after all, ‘Mum when I’m at University…’

p.

Mr M and I actually wonder if he will ever see daylight again and I have it on very good authority that when they go to University they become nocturnal creatures.

In the midst of all of this maelstrom I call my middle age, it dawned on me that whilst my two teens are stuck in puberty I’m spiralling through the menopause.

Two of the worst stages of life for a woman.

After all, she is the one that has to endure pubescent teens coupled with the onset of the menopause.

The hormonal swings are as radical as Corbyn’s policies with each teen managing stress, sex and growth hormones and one woman who is sadly lacking in every area with the exception of stress, that I have in abundance!

While testosterone levels in all of us are as high as the UK debt, this hormonal often volatile mix means we are all angry, h-angry and impatient.

They have too many hormones and mine are all but in the toilet.

I am reassured by well meaning friends who intimate that their ‘niceness’ will come back E-V-E-N-T-U-A-L-L-Y.

I remain unconvinced.

Teenagers work on remote control they don’t think before they speak nor do menopausal women and I often find myself saying things out loud which should really be confined to the comfort of my brain.

I did wonder if you can develop Tourette syndrome during the menopause, after all I seem to share all the symptoms, motor and vocal tic.

I understand why middle aged ladies are depicted as miserable and feisty, it’s because we’ve had to endure the menopause and it leaves us irritable, tired and anxious.

I did not appreciate that I would have to navigate my way through this menopausal maze and cope with teenage mood swings.

I wonder how Mr M has stuck it out all this time?

He deserves a medal.

In truth, he has been very understanding he tells me it is because I have explained every nuance of the menopause, what it feels like, the highs and lows, the fixation with it being too hot or too cold.

The menopause is a bit like puberty in reverse so we women get it at both ends of the ageing cycle.

What I've learnt since reaching my 50sIf we are fortunate, we get thirty years where we are at our peak from fifteen to about forty-five, then it’s all downhill when our oestrogen finally checks out.

The other disadvantage of the menopause is the lapse in memory.

When I am told ‘Mum, I’m out tonight with the lads’, the response is immediate, ‘you never asked me or told me’.

The perfect excuse for my son and I to go to war.

I lose my temper because I swear he didn’t tell me and my son loses his cool and accuses me of having a go at him.

My voice goes up five octaves and he rants at me with the coolness that befits a skilled negotiator both of us throwing tantrums that most three year olds would be proud of.

The smallest thing sends me vitriolic; the landing gear from the planes that fly overhead could fall through the roof and I would shrug my shoulders and say s**t.

On the other hand, my sons can send me off the richter scale just by breathing and leaving their dirty pants strewn on the landing.concept of aging and skin care

It is bad luck that timing has caused this catastrophic situation for the household.

Whilst I am deemed an older mother, I was pregnant with my second child at 39, late by the British Medical Journal standards.

Raising children at any age is hard but as I approach my mid fifties, I am facing the reality of being an older mother with my teenagers and me going in different hormonal directions.

My boys are strong and athletic, lean and muscular and I‘m jealous because their bodies are peaking to optimum hotness.

Mine is beginning to sag and in spite of exercise and good eating you can’t halt the onset of middle age and you certainly can’t stop it marching across your face.

I am overwhelmed with surges of hot flushes, they arrive like a tidal wave and I literally have to strip off which doesn’t bode well when one of Mr M’s employees happens to come through the back door to drop something off and I’m standing there in bra and jeans.

‘Hot flush’ he says, like he’s talking about the weather, ‘yes’, I say as I fumble with putting my top back on, face flushed and even redder than it was five minutes earlier.

I managed a wolf whistle from a nearby workman on my run this morning, until I turned around and glared at the man, who apologised, ‘sorry love, didn’t realise…’ didn’t realise what that I’m old, older?

Beauty woman is showing middle fingerIn spite of the riots, the stroppiness and the mood swings, there are moments of tenderness when the boys give me a hug and the home, usually a war zone, becomes Switzerland, for the next ten minutes if I’m lucky.

 

What I've learnt since reaching my 50s

The menopause

Funny thing reaching your fifties it creeps up on you whilst you’re way too busy bringing up children, working, being a mother, parent and guardian for ailing parents.concept of aging and skin care

The last month has been strange to say the least.

With my younger son’s prize giving done and dusted and my eldest son’s speech day and prize giving all but a few hours old I watched them both proudly as they spoke to their teachers and thanked them for their help and guidance.

I danced with my eighteen year old son at his 18th party, spent the best part of his prize giving in floods of tears and feeling bereft, unsure and uncertain as to what the future holds for him and for us without him.

It has been particularly poignant for me as my younger son will be joining the Upper school and my eighteen year old hopefully going off to University in October.

Family happiness! Happy mother tenderly embracing his two sons iI am reflecting on my life in a calm and tranquil way and asking myself where I am at, and, what lies ahead?

Women put their lives on hold for their children, we may not think that we do but speaking from personal experience I had not realised just how much.

I have put things to one side and have not being able to do the things I want to do, to make sure my children get what they want and need.

“Stop the world I want to get off now”

My mother gave me some very sound advice when my first born was but a few days old.

Remember this, you were here first, your baby second.

What she meant was to not constantly hover over my newborn but to ensure he was fed, safe and secure and in his cot or in his bouncy chair whilst I got on with life.

And it worked, my baby would sit in his chair whilst I did the cleaning, ironing, cooking or working and I would talk to him whilst working.

It was the best advice because it ensured I actually got on with my life without pandering to a baby’s constant needs every five seconds and being what has now been phrased a ‘helicopter parent’.

But that was some eighteen years ago and in the time since my first child was born I barely recognise the person I was then.

I am older, wiser, experienced and definitely have more lines.What I've learnt since reaching my 50s

My hair is longer and greying although the wonders of hair tinting defy the onset of middle age.

Middle age, past ripe, past prime whatever you wish to call it,  although the media would have you believe that a woman entering her fifties is the prime of her life I beg to differ.

How I wish I was the age of 33 but with the maturity and knowledge of the 53 that I am.

My body shows signs of ageing and yet I am more athletic and fitter than I was twenty years ago but the day after tells the tale of physical exertion and tiredness.

I no longer have the stamina I used to have and I am more excited about going to bed with a good book.

Sex no longer offers any excitement for me it has become a chore akin to ironing; the hormones that have depleted my sex drive have ravaged my body leaving me less than the woman I was.

My mind tells me that I am still that thirty something woman who has the ‘joie de vivre’ and wants to have lots of fun.

The seasons are a reminder of time’s insistence not to stand still and that I am heading into my twilight years.

There is a sense of need, urgency almost for things still yet to be accomplished and I am worried that time will run out and I will look back on a life more ordinary than extraordinary.

And I wonder if my peak has been and gone without anyone noticing my full potential yet to be realised and acknowledged.

I’ve reached middle age with all the physiology it entails, mood swings, depressions, hot sweats, cold seats.

Stuck in a time warpI am out of synchronicity with nature and time, my body is in the slipstream of reality but my mind is displaced and whilst I am an excited step grandmother in the waiting, seeing my step daughter-in-law’s bump is a constant reminder that I am no longer in the prime of my youth.

My birthing years are over my natural biorhythms are no longer in tune and I am as unpredictable as the english weather.

But I am coping with the menopause, I haven’t got a choice I’ve been given this body and I am adapting with it as it changes.

I have never tried to pretend it doesn’t exist nor act younger than I am.

But in the solitude that is my own, I brood about the time travel from 35 to 53 the years seem to have rolled around so fast.

And how the passage of time transforms each and every woman into a different catalogue of their former younger selves.

Every woman experiences the menopause differently no stories are the same and my body is but one account of a woman’s ageing inflicted upon us in a society that does everything to disown, ignore, stigmatise the ageing process along with the menopause.

Ideally the transition from youth through to the menopause should be slow and mellow like a fine wine that ages gracefully in the bottle, a slow and gradual imperceptible shift.

Further Reading

A funny thing happened on the way to the menopause

Just because I’m 50 doesn’t mean I’m dead yet.

Is the menopause a taboo subject?

How my life has changed since reaching my 50’s

Just being mum

A life less fulfilled

Girlfriends Friendship Party Happiness Summer Concept

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the menopause. Why you’re never too old too…

In spite of what we know about this important chapter in a woman’s life, for many, not only is it a defining moment known as ‘the change’ but it can also be a transformative time when we choose to make life changing decisions. Menopause

This might mean setting up a business, divorcing a spouse whom we may have shared our life with for over thirty years and for others it is the realisation that time is marching on and that we may have just seen the best of our years.

Not me. I feel fitter, healthier and more athletic than in my thirties.

Time maybe marching across my face but it certainly isn’t as far as my brain and the rest of me is concerned.

I might be menopausal but just because I’m 50 doesn’t mean I’m dead yet.

When I met with girlfriends recently one couldn’t help but remark ‘let’s face it, luvvies, we’ve seen the best of our years.

menopauseI bristled because not only did she dismiss the menopause as a defining moment for a woman but effectively consigned womanhood to the shelf??

I came away thinking is it really over for menopausal women?

By chance a PR company approached onewomansview by email to promote a new book, So that’s why I’m bonkers! A Girl’s Guide to surviving the menopause.’ by Sheila Wenbourne.

I read it, loved it and had to interview Sheila, we were two kindred spirits experiencing this ghastly woman’s change but in hugely different ways.

When I asked Sheila why she wrote a book on the menopause she said ‘because I went to my Dr. and was told it was the menopause, that I was going to have to learn to live with, goodbye G-string hello big knickers.’

That was enough for Sheila who looked at other options as well as HRT.

Whilst the book doesn’t unearth how or why women endure the menopause, it is a medical fact that all women will at some stage go through the menopause. She writes in a fun, honest and educational way describing what women have to go through but who are afraid to either acknowledge or talk about, what both Sheila and I refer to as the dreaded M word.

In fact the menopause gave her the confidence to set up her own online business selling magnetic jewellery, an alternative therapy she subsequently discovered helped her with all the symptoms associated with the menopause.

She first came across magnetic therapy when she discovered that Yuk, its the menopauseher dog was suffering from acute arthritis and was told that putting him down might be the kindest thing to do but instead she researched what alternatives were available and discovered magnetic dog collars, popped one on her dog and watched her beloved collie transform into a sprightly pup.

Believing that if it could work for her dog why not her and so she decided to find a way of selling magnetic jewellery online.

I’m currently wearing a magnet in my knickers on the recommendation of Sheila. (You can find out how magnet therapy works here)

I’ve fished it out of the toilet twice already as I forget it’s there, but I am going to persist with it because if it means coming off HRT a drug designed to stabilise our declining oestrogen then I’m all for it.

But the moral of the tale is that just because women hit the menopause doesn’t mean it is game set and match.

Coming out of the other side of the menopause, Sheila said that she is more confident than the person she was before so much so it gave her the desire and verve to set up a business.

She acknowledges that magnetic therapy isn’t for everyone and I have to admit I was a little skeptical too, but if you don’t try you don’t know?

As we spoke and shared experiences of the menopause I drew a parallel with our lives.

At 50 I discovered a desire to write and went onto study freelance courses in journalism which after successful completion led to me to the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism.

Not a course for the faint hearted and whilst I have really struggled with time, business and work I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been for the menopause I might not have taken the decision to consider a change in career.

Cameron Diaz reportedly said in her new book, “The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging”, she is not afraid of getting old it’s Hollywood she worries about.

It was refreshing to have a Hollywood A-Lister stand up for women aging and admit that she isn’t in the least bit scared.

There is a generation of female silver surfers and webpreneurs who have set up businesses in their late 50s and 60s following the menopause.

In eastern and asian societies women who start the menopause are revered and considered wise and worldly, a far cry from how western societies view menopausal women.

Sheila has confirmed many successes of women who have used magnetic therapy reporting that that they are more adventurous, confident and happier.

As for Sheila she says; ‘I’m happier in myself, I can cope with life generally much better than I ever did before, the only thing I do is wear a magnet.’

During our chat, she mentions Linda Barker and Julie Walters who both described the experience of the menopause as horrible. Julie said that she feels more liberated and has more energy than she had in her 50s following the menopause.

Instead of viewing this stage as the final act, Sheila says; ‘it’s hard going through it but once you’ve come out the other side, we’ve got 30-40 years to enjoy life, accept the fact you are older.

Fighting back at 50+ she says, ‘we’ve got so much to offer, so much to give to people, so much experience, we are in our prime.

We can feel good about ourselves, why can’t we wear lovely makeup and beautiful clothes?

We are not washed up at 50, we are in our prime, who says you can’t have it all?’

Amen to that!

 

Is the menopause a taboo subject?

menopause and its affect on women
The menopause represents an opportunity for a woman to reinvent herself or does it just mean ‘getting old’.

Why does the mere mention of the word “menopause” make grown women head for the rafters and hide for fear of being looked at as some kind of prehistoric bird, excuse the pun.

On a recent working day broken up by the quiet interlude of a coffee morning, a girlfriend invited me around to her home along with several other women to view her recent house renovation and extension.

Following the grand tour, coffee was taken in her beautiful new garden room.

One of the ladies deep in conversation with another happened to say, “of course all this has changed since I started the menopause”.

The word “menopause” hung in the air like a thick smog.

Similarly when my then 3 year old decided to shout out the word  va-gi-na, va-gi-na’ on a flight to Spain much to the amusement of the passengers.

Everyone looked at each other except me who replied very matter of factly ‘ I know exactly what you mean.’

The ladies, I can say authoritatively are between 49 – 54 years respectively so I am pretty confident that with the exception of our host are well into the menopause.

Astonishingly, it would appear the “M” word is not being acknowledged by women.

The menopause is a significant life event that affects all women.

Women represent almost half the labour force and over 3.5 million are aged 50 and over and yet it is seldom recognised as a major challenge for women.

In her study, “Women’s Experience of Working Through The Menopause” Amanda Griffiths of the University Of Nottingham showed that 33% of women interviewed did view the menopause as a private matter and not something one talked about. 84% agreed that the menopause was a natural life stage and and not a medical disorder and 29% felt that the menopause was a sign of feeling less attractive. [Findings based on a study conducted in menopausal women in the workplace]

The menopause brings with it searing clarity that women aren’t getting any younger.

It can impact a womans self-esteem, self-confidence and make women question their identity.

The study also found that ‘the end of fertility and menstruation were flagged by some as a positive aspect of the menopause. For others, it presented challenges and was viewed as a sign of becoming older, feeling less attractive, not feeling oneself and worrying about appearance’.

The ‘change’ is not really talked about openly, it’s not surprising that women aren’t exactly embracing the “menopause” with open arms.

Natural menopause takes place when the ovaries become unable to produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Ovaries fail to produce the two hormones naturally when there are few egg cells remaining. Eggs are present before birth and are reduced through puberty and there is a rapid decline from 40 onwards. Menopause means the last menstrual period. Periods stop because of the low levels of oestrogen and progesterone which stop stimulating the lining of the womb in the normal cycle.

This isn’t helped by the way the menopause is portrayed in the media. Tracey Emin reportedly describes her experience of the menopause as a nightmare, akin to the beginning of death.

Anne, 56 views the menopause as a very positive experience she says; ‘I had relatively trouble free periods. I noticed my periods becoming irregular and by mid summer I experienced hot flushes which lasted two months, then they stopped. I didn’t associate that the symptoms might be the start of the menopause.

Six months later it started full swing with the hot flushes I then realised that it must be the menopause.

I’m lucky apart from the hot flushes or power surges as the family affectionately refer to them and the restless nights I am managing it. The menopause is something I have no control over. It’s part of being a woman and there is nothing I can do to control it.’

Women are bombarded with fabulous looking celebrity women in their late 40’s and early 50’s like Elle Macpherson, 48 wearing a skimpy bikini on the beach, looking great and quite possibly peri-menopausal.

This only reinforces the feelings women have as they approach middle age – weakening self confidence, insecurity and vulnerability.

At the other extreme are media pictures of a youth obsessed sexualised culture where women are in pursuit of eternal artificially created beauty.

The evidence from the study would suggest that women are finding the transition to middle-age daunting, not only is the change a physical one but a psychological process too. The person they once identified with pre-menopause is not the same woman post-menopause.

Could that be why women don’t view the menopause as something to be optimistic about because it means a reincarnation; a reinvention of oneself?

The onset of the menopause represents completion of motherhood. The children have grown and left home and women are left to face a new stage in their life.

It is a life changing moment an opportunity to make a woman feel reborn. In spite of this, the significance of the menopause is synonymous with a feeling that ‘life is over.’

menopausal symptoms
The joy of the menopause
Courtesy of www.minniepauz.com

Kate reflects, ‘at 52 years you know your baby making days are over so there is a sense of sadness but would I want anymore children now, of course not. The menopause is the final stage in my reproductive cycle and I guess there is a sense of finality about that.’

Helen 58 years says, ‘it was hard to begin with and I thought that I could manage without any help but in the end I went on HRT, the best thing ever, although my husband use to find my HRT patches stuck to the shower wall occasionally. But it’s part of being a woman you have to accept it get over it and move on but I did feel like I was on my own when I was going through it.’

Peri-Menopause is the stage from the beginning of the menopausal symptoms to the post-menopause phase. Post-menopause is the time following the last period and is defined as more than 12 months with no periods in a woman whose ovaries are intact.

Women faced with the menopause have the daunting prospect of ageing to contend with too and although the majority of women probably wouldn’t want any more children it’s that inevitability that makes the menopause so final, so the ‘end.’

Typical symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations, insomnia, aching joints, headaches, mood swings, anxiety and irritability which are disruptive to the majority of womens lives.

Women require emotional support – sympathy, understanding and tolerance but unless women talk about the menopause discuss it openly and share how they feel then the menopause is likely to remain a ‘private’ or taboo subject.

The question that remains is how do we, as women change that perception?

What do you think?

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The 7 Dwarfs of the menopause can be found at www.minniepauz.com a fantastic fun look at menopausal women.