Elaine from Early Retirement Rocks has kindly shared her experience and some thoughts on menopause. Something all women have to face, and I must admit from my point of view, something I have been in denial about. Hormones and don’t see eye to eye.
Menopause – the dreaded M word! Or at least it is when you’re in the throws of it! However, it has to be said it’s refreshing that the menopause is now talked about and discussed these days – in my mother’s time it was a totally taboo topic! Spoken about only in whispers as ‘The Change’
I’ve just turned 60 and am very experienced in this topic – I thought I’d share with you my journey and at the end reflect on what I would have done differently to prepare myself with the knowledge I now have.
I’m going to talk about and share my worst symptoms with you. If you’re younger and not yet there don’t feel the menopause is not a subject you need to know about. I’m discussing these symptoms in the hope that you may recognize the suffering or changes in yourself, an older female relative, friend or colleague and develop an understanding of where they’re at!
Hot flushes are the symptom that is most commonly recognized. I was always a cold person, needing the heating on in winter months before my husband did. Wearing thick jumpers and roll necks. My first symptoms came on gradually, I found I didn’t feel as cold and generally felt warmer all the time.
Changes in body shape especially weight gain around the middle
The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. Well, I can confirm that this is certainly the case with me! I’m only 4′ 10″ tall and have turned into a stumpy little apple! I reminisce about the days when I could wear a size 6, proving I haven’t always been overweight.
I have always had a fear of flying and require medication when traveling on holiday, now I have anxiety even traveling in the car or visiting new places. I see danger everywhere. That does not mean I have stopped traveling or trying new experiences, I just have to plan a little bit more and I have taken to using Kalms tablets when needed. I have not yet gone down the road of having to visit my Doctor for HRT or other medication. On the whole, I manage using my own strategies and I avoid watching in-depth news coverage of distressing events. This does not mean I do not keep up with the news and World events I just scan the basic headlines – I’ve become a bit of an Ostrich!
Hair loss tends to be subtler in women than it is in men. Most women experience overall hair thinning rather than noticeable bald spots. The thinning can occur on the front, sides, or top of the head. Hair may also fall out in large clumps during brushing and showering. I have always had fine hair but lots of it. With the changes I’ve experienced during the menopause my hair has really thinned out and become even more fine and difficult to style.
I was struggling with concentration and memory issues. This was quite worrying initially until I realized that these were symptoms of the menopause rather than anything else. There are times when this brain fog means you have to stop mid-sentence to try and remember the next word you want to say. Remembering names and details were becoming more difficult, particularly when under pressure. My brain appeared to be in overload. Particularly as I had always been commended for my memory for detail.
If I had the knowledge I have now there aren’t many things I would have done differently as most features are unchangeable. However, my biggest bugbear has been the weight gain. I have always loved clothes and fashion. I now really dislike my shape and how I look. I cannot buy the fashion styles I would love to and I hate my big boobs and belly with a passion. I think I would have been much stricter with the type of foods I ate and although I have always exercised I did have a few years where I was less active. I would have kept up my gym membership and continued to exercise with weights to maintain my muscle mess, which may have helped to reduce the excess weight gain.
Now that I’ve told you these issues I appreciate they all sound negative and do not reflect this time of life in a positive light. It is worth addressing these issues as a woman today now spends approximately one-third of their life menopausal. I want to end by saying that life is not all bad, in fact, this third age of my life is possibly the best era of my life in many ways. I am now out of the daily slog of full-time work, I’m in control of what I do with my time. My confidence levels are high, I know who I am and what I want from life. The menopause is an irritation to be dealt with but hey it’s not spoiling my retirement party!