There is a post going around on Facebook that says ‘Still to come, Menopause because nature decided that pregnancy, labour, delivery, breastfeeding, stretch marks, sagging boobs and cellulite wasn’t punishment enough!’
Menopause marks the permanent end of the menstrual cycle and fertility. For some this is joyous and for many more absolutely terrifying. It means we are getting (everybody whisper now), old!
It may be a natural biological process but it can be daunting and will affect everyone one way or the other. If you are not a woman undergoing it, you will be a man experiencing it!
I recently did a show on the subject (Radio 2000, The Collective). We take calls from listeners and I am always interested in what comes up. A male caller asked if this was a real thing because he never heard his mother talking about it! And that’s just it, we don’t talk about it.
It is very, very real!
Menopause usually commences during your 50s, although some women can experience it much earlier on. Early menopause can be caused by having had a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, radiation or primary hormone insufficiency. The most common cause however is the natural reduction of reproductive hormones we experience with age.
Some of the symptoms include: Irregular periods (not so easy to notice if you are on some method of contraception), vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain, slower metabolism, thinning hair, dry skin and loss of breast fullness (also not so easy to detect if you’ve had implants.)
How excited are you now! I can contribute, burning feet, irritation and a very confused mind.
Every symptom, as you know when you consult the very dangerous, Doctor Google, can be attributed to many other conditions. Take a dry vagina for an example. This could be caused by being on medication ranging from the contraceptive pill to anti depressants.
The easiest way to establish what is going on is to have a simple blood test.
I think medical doctors should sponsor me because it seems that a doctor is always my first port of call, and this week is no different. See your doctor!
So many women don’t take care of themselves. There is always tomorrow or something else that has to be attended to first. You can stay healthy, sexy and vital during this period if you just take some care.
There are a variety of solutions available for helping control the condition. These range from HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) to acupuncture and Yoga. I went the HRT route because it suited my personality and body type.
An acquaintance is getting similar results from controlling her diet and taking handfuls of homeopathic supplement. The route you choose to treat it is completely up to you.
Many women simply ignore it and hope for the best. It can last for as little as one year and over five. So if you a typical woman you are going to ignore it for about a year before you decide to do something about it and by then it may all be over. This is what I wish for you.
There are three recognized stages to menopause. Peri -menopause, menopause and post menopause. Have to say I am really looking forward to post menopause!
There can be medical complications triggered by menopause. You can develop a heart or blood vessel disease as a result of a decrease in estrogen. Osteoporosis and urinary incontinence are particularly terrible. Both can be managed and if you start early enough can be completely avoided.
For osteoporosis amend your calcium and magnesium intake and for urinary incontinence, start doing your kegel exercises. Get yourself a pair of Benwa Balls and start wearing them today. There is just nothing sexy about leaking when you sneeze.
Another caller on the show I referred to earlier, found penetration extremely painful. On closer examination, she was suffering from extreme vaginal dryness which made normal everyday motion painful. There are gels, cream and lubricants than can help and make you more comfortable, but for goodness sake see your doctor!
I have taken care of many of the symptoms but for me the worst is how I see myself.
I had a tough transition from mother to lover and now I am trying to keep my swag going. Let me tell you that this is not for the faint hearted.
I often think that women going through this period are invisible. I know because this is how I feel. Nobody even bothers to look up when we enter a room anymore. Some of us go to extreme methods to keep it going and end up looking silly.
We are in the twilight period of being neither young nor old and don’t really know where we fit in anymore.
I still think I can flirt with gorgeous young men who look at me in horror. OMG, Grab a Granny!
Men my age are clasping to their youth by dating women closer to their daughter’s age than mine. The men who do pay some attention to me are really, really old and out of shape. So my mind goes to one place.
It tells me that I am past my prime: That I am no longer a sexual, sensual being. That I do not need to have great sex and that I should lock all that longing away. I should settle for being asexual and sexless.
What terrifies me is that I know this is complete rubbish and yet I have to keep reminding myself of it. I feel so sorry for those of you who don’t know what I know and buy into what our minds tell us. I know that we can stay sexual and sensual, that we deserve great sex. That our lives can still be vital.
When I am feeling at my oldest I remember the line from a poem I learnt at university by Dylan Thomas and I share it with you as our battle cry ‘Do not go gentle into that good night… Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Share your experiences with me Sharon@lolamontez.co.za