Menopause Matters

MenopauseLike any phase in our lives, it’s impossible to truly empathise, until you have personally experienced it. You can nod sympathetically at the new mother who is up five times to feed at night, or lend an ear to friends with overwhelming PMT, but until you have actually known the feeling of permanent jet lag created by a new baby, or felt like you could actually kill someone and feel justified, as it’s the time of the month – you have absolutely no idea how debilitating these things can be.

In ones 40’s, the menopause looms in a mysterious and almost fascinating way; surely it can’t be that bad, after all we’ve dealt with periods, PMT and child birth and managed!

The menopause often coincides with other major changes in our lives – children leaving home, ageing parents and mid life career choices – and the onslaught of dark moods, headaches, memory lapses, insomnia and hideous hot flushes can feel overwhelming and very unfair.

Some women sail through the menopause (although I don’t know many) and move onto the next phase of their lives with very little disruption and other suffer – many in silence – with a myriad of symptoms that doctors generically put down to “hormones”.

There is no test to pinpoint when the peri- menopause kicks in and little or no relevant information, as every women experiences it in a different way. This makes the onset of the many different symptoms difficult to deal with, as one isn’t sure if they are associated with the menopause or not.

Mentioning how you feel to others, is a bit like telling a male PE teacher you have your period, or announcing yourself as a hot, sweaty, mad woman. People (especially men) reel in horror and look visibly uncomfortable, as for some reason it isn’t something we feel comfortable talking about in public.

Women’s Hour had an interesting (if rather depressing) feature on last week about the everlasting menopause and when we took to Twitter to discuss the subject further, we had some really interesting feedback and we jokingly commented “lets try and get #menopause trending”.

So over the next few months we are going to take this subject on board and aim to get as many people talking about it as possible. We have already had offers of some really interesting posts and will be seeking professional advice and gathering feedback from readers, in order to get some clarity on the subject.

So if you have any experiences and tips that you would like to share – please get in touch, either by leaving a comment or dropping us an email.

We would love to hear from you – lets get this conversation started people!!



  • hayley says:

    Really grateful you are tackling this. Having suffered horrifically with PMT and pregnancy I dread the menopause. Hx

  • Peggy says:

    Thought I had cruised through menopause with no problems (“Ha…I spit on menopause!”). That is until the night sweats. Now I live in Sri Lanka, sweating at night is not unheard of, but this was ridiculous! But most worrisome is the gentle waft of peach fuzz on my upper lip! Argh! I have more hair there now than my 15 yr.old son. I try to look at it humorously, but some days! Really looking forward to what others have to say about the changes, good and bad. We Boomers can change how this whole phase is looked at. Loving TWR!

  • Ceri says:

    Peggy, I have more hair on my chin than my 20 year old son…

    I too seem to have gone through the menopause without really suffering physically (Date of LMP? June 2008. Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed). What I contend with are the emotional aspects – am I feeling down/stressed/lacking in confidence/exhausted/whatever etc because I’m peri/post menopausal or because I’m slap bang in the middle on the sandwich generation with all that involves?

    I welcome a wider debate on the menopause. There is a panoply of information and guides to life stages like puberty, pregnancy and early motherhood but a dearth about of honest writing on this period.

  • Katy F says:

    I was thrown into the chemical menopause at 37 after treatment for breast cancer. It was like stepping off a cliff and more terrifying than some of the delights associated with cancer. There was very little information available and I just had to get on with it. It will be good if this discussion helps just one person.

  • Jo f says:

    Help with itchy arms and ankles will be gratefully received!! Sounds pathetic but it is really irritating at night!!!

  • Joy Hawker says:

    Delighted to see TWR is going to cover the menopause in their regular (and IMO outstanding) blog. Why don’t we talk about it more? And there are lots of positives (no more periods, hurray!) but many weird and wonderful symptoms. Yes, I too have had dreadfully itchy arms (what’s all that about?). I have learned to recognise that some days/weeks/months are better than others – the hot flushes ebb and flow along (presumably) with the the change in oestrogen levels.
    Having a sympathetic and supportive partner helps enormously. But they are baffled too by the mood swings and whines of “I’m so hot!” (duvet on/off/shake it all about!). Keep talking to them and loving them :)

  • Sara Mathews says:

    I’m 52 and have had no periods for over two years but still have night sweats that can be very disruptive to well being as it’s so tiring at a time when energy levels are not what they were. However for me at least there are also positive aspects to the menopause . My mood is much more stable and I no longer get pre menstrual breakouts on my skin. Emotionally I feel more grown up, confident and autonomous than ever before. I don’t worry as much about others view of me and the urge to people please is definitely less. I am convinced that these emotional effects are connected to going through the menopause and may to an extent be hormonally determined. Whatever the cause I’d like to see the potentially positive and liberating aspects to the menopause included in our conversation.

  • Monix says:

    At last -we’re talking about it! The weight fluctuation, the extreme mood swings and as others have mentioned, the hairs that sprout like pig bristles. I tried everything from herbal teas, hormone patches, cold turkey and the only remedy that makes it bearable, HRT tablets. I have been warned by my doctor that they only suppress the symptoms and I’ll have to deal with it eventually (but not this month please doc!). Can’t help thinking if men had the same manifestations we’d have a solution by now.

  • Sarah/Lilac says:

    I heard that R4 programme and it made for very depressing listening. I’m coming up to 50 and symptoms are popping up all over. However, this month I’ve been alcohol free, snack free and healthy eating and I’ve had much less symptoms, but the days feel so loooong! Really glad there is somewhere talking about it, it is the least sexy topic, really but it makes you feel much less mad if others share their experiences. Thxx.

  • Holly says:

    You’re certainly right about mentioning menopause in public. People get that weird look in their eyes like they swallowed a bug and need to get away from you as soon as possible. It’s not contagious or anything. Good luck in getting the conversation started. It’s really important.

  • Jacqueline says:

    I had a hysterectomy at 32 and although It did not involve the removal of my ovaries I went into the menopause early after. Like Katy F there was no information or help available for me. Eventually I managed to persuade a female GP I needed help and now at 67 am having to come off the HRT I have been on for 25 years. It ain’t great coming off it but I don’t have osteoporosis like my mother & sisters and, according to the docs, my risk of heart problems has been reduced. I am very grateful for the respite HRT provided me with – it meant I could have a successful career,cope with a divorce & the death of my beloved son. I accept that HRT is not for everyone & carries some risks (mine is oestrogen only) however I am concerned about the prejudice & ignorance that is portrayed I some areas of the media. I recently listed to a very unbalanced debate on the Jeremy Vine show when no distinction was made between the different types of HRT & the benefits & proportionate risks they carry.

    This is a big topic and deserves proper debate based on evidence based information & the knowledge & experience of women themselves. Currently it is the elephant in the room! Thanks Jane & Amanda for opening this up.

  • Amanda says:

    J I think we may have to do our next Salon on this topic! A

  • I am really please to see this article and the fact that you are opening up a new menopause debate. We have known for a number of years just how little information and support is out there for women approaching, going through and after the menopause so looking forward to reading all the comments and stories. Well Done!

  • claire says:

    Went from miscarriage to menopause within a month, nobody was able to answer my questions. Night sweats, hot flushes, insomnia, feeling my husband & two year old would be better of without me. Some HRT causing menstrual dysphoric disorder, trying to come to terms with not being able to have a second child. Now in 3rd year & have just got the HRT sorted, it took a long time with great doctors, who do help but in terms of available & instant remedies, it seems our/their understanding of the menopause is still in its infancy. You have to keep going until you hit on the treatment that suits you, I am super sensitive to progesterone, its taken this long to figure it out but now I seem to be sorted! I hope.

  • Abbie says:

    For the last five years (I’m now 32) I’ve proven to be incredibly sensitive to hormonal changes. This added to the fact that I’ve suffered with hot sweats since birth (according to my mother!) leaves me assuming that I have a nightmare menopause ahead of me! :-( What helps me massively, however, with my night sweats in particular is a little tip I picked up watching Come Dine With Me; high-strength sage tablets! They act almost instantly, so I highly recommend :-)

  • Suji says:

    I’m coming up to 50 and I have no idea where I am on the scale. I have found that GP’s are too quick to put any kind of symptom down to “your time of life dear”, even the older female ones, to the point where it’s hard to get treatment for symptoms that are actually causing interference with normal life (and incidentally are not menopause related). I don’t mind no longer being fertile etc, so I was a bit miffed to be told that I should just come to terms with it.

    But having said that I’m not looking forward to the symptoms people describe. I’d really just like to know where I am on the scale so I could try and put some sort of context to what I’m experiencing. My mum said that she didn’t go through it until 55 so I’m thinking that I will be the same.

  • Linda Howatson says:

    So grateful you’re addressing this issue on behalf of women of ALL ages! I’d be particularly interested to hear about other women’s symptoms. Aside from the very hard to accept adverse effects of having just a glass or two of red-wine, I wonder are some pretty awful nightmares I’ve been experiencing, par for the course…?? Would also love to know pros and cons of HRT over natural remedies and vis-a-versa. Thank-you xx

  • Jane says:

    Oh Linda me too with the nightmares. More coming soon, including a salon on the subject.
    J x

  • suji says:

    I recently read Dr Marion Gluck’s book (she is called the hormone doctor) and whilst the information about bio identical hormones was interesting – the nutritional advice was beyond depressing – no wheat, no dairy, no red meat and no alcohol – hmm I did that when i was pregnant but it was for a limited time – not sure I could manage as part of an ongoing lifestyle choice.

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