Everything you’ve heard about menopause is true, and it may be worse than you imagine.
Sleepless nights, brain fog, hotter than Hades sweats all night, and all day too. Lack of libido may just be a nice way of saying you can never, ever imagine having sex again, weight gain, depression and mood swings that probably mean you are in danger of losing all your friends and possibly a large portion of your family too. Hairy chin, hairy chest and did any one tell you that your labia may drop, along with all your other body parts? That, however, will be the least of your worries because aching limbs and failing eye sight will be more of a concern, not to mention the list of ‘old age’ conditions such as furry arteries and flimsy bones that suddenly your Dr wants to discuss anytime you go near.
Reach a ‘certain’ age and you are ‘invited’ for mammograms. Once upon a time, I got invited to parties or even for a cervical screening. Now it’s the chance to have my breasts sandwiched between two heavy plates while getting radiated. There seems to be less interest in my cervix now I’m the other side of 50.
All of this is true and, indeed, get a few women of my age together and you could hear stories that will surprise you, shock you and may even bring tears to your eyes. But, the surprise and the shock might be that you are hearing stories of triumph. And the tears, which although always salty, could also be of joy. Out the other side is a place which could just be the best place you have ever been.
On the other side of menopause there is a world which hopefully you can finally start to claim as your own. There is a world where the weight of ‘trying’ might now become the weight of ‘being and allowing’. Post-menopause, can allow you the space to be perfectly imperfect.
Awareness of menopause is gathering momentum as the baby boomers age. The press is warming up to the subject, we have had TV programmes and every week there is a new book or we are promised a quick fix or new cure. We are now starting to have the conversation in public, not just behind closed doors or whispered murmurs across the kitchen table.
At the age of 54, I find myself with more energy and focus than ever before, I am now well-versed in the art of ‘no’ or sometimes ‘more please’, and, as I look at my friends in their 60s and 70s, I am seeing a future that is bright and full of potential.
The truth is that, if you are lucky, you will live to see this time of your life and the many years that stretch beyond the other side. Although you may still have the odd hot moment, you can learn to ride it with grace. Everything you have heard about menopause is true but the conversation has only just started. It’s time to get the whole story and just like all the best ones, this is one where it is possible to live happily ever after.