The menopause. That taboo subject that no-one ever talks about, at least until this week, when the BBC has decided to run a series of articles about it. And yet, roughly 50% of the population go through it at some time or other, one way or another. And the other 50% is affected by it.
If you do get to discuss it, usually in the hairdresser or somewhere similar, it’s all the bad news: hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, to name a few. But that’s only part of it, there are other symptoms, good and bad…
You may have few or no symptoms, in fact, 30% of women fit into this category.
Seriously, this is a good news story. I wondered whether I was getting was hot flushes and night sweats, but when other people described them, mine were not even on the same scale. I was told they started at the feet and worked their way up.
That didn’t happen to me, and the year it was happening, it was a very hot summer, so it is possible that I was just sweating a lot in reaction to the heat. Realistically, I do think I had five or six hot flushes, but that’s nothing in the scheme of things.
I’m rarely anxious and if I am, there is usually a reason for it. Was I bad-tempered or grumpy? Possibly, but there are those who would say I’m always bad-tempered and grumpy.
Joking aside, I don’t remember any difference and no-one has actually told me that there is a noticeable difference in my temperament, so I’m saying no to that one too.
Taste, Red Wine in Particular
I’d heard that women’s tastes changed during and after the menopause. The first time I noticed this was when I was out with some friends and offered some red wine. It is true that I’ve always preferred white wine, but there was a time when I was very much red wine in the winter and white wine in the summer. Then, one day, I just couldn’t drink red wine anymore. The smell put me off, it just wasn’t right. And the taste… Ugh! There was no red wine hangover behind this, and anyway, that had never put me off before, it was just… red wine.
I started to notice that other things weren’t as palatable either. Nothing serious, nothing important and obviously not chocolate (life has its little compensations!) but there are definitely a few foods that are no longer up there on my last meal list.
There are some foods that I find more difficult to tolerate but that’s more to do with an older digestive system. For example, chillies can upset my stomach more now.
Perfumes and smell
This is a strange one, and probably linked to taste… I’ve noticed that some of the perfumes that I used to like just don’t smell right anymore when I wear them… As in, ‘don’t bring them near me.’ If you’ve ever had that thing with Dior’s “Poison,” or the Agent Provocateur perfume (which frankly, to me, smells as though someone has vomited over sweaty socks. Apologies to anyone who likes it, fragrance is very personal) then you will know what I mean. This is a very expensive, and distressing situation
The worst thing is, and I am not the only woman to report this; a few of my friends report the same thing: some perfumes no longer last on my skin. Now this may be related to ageing (ugh! Did I really say that about myself?) skin being drier, but it is definitely a thing.
I was diagnosed with ‘aggressive gum disease’ a few years ago, and have lost a couple of teeth as a result. It was quite a shock, I’ve always looked after my teeth (I started flossing when they first ‘invented’ floss. I admit, I was slow on the uptake with interdental brushes, but only because I didn’t really understand: I tried the pink ones and they were as much use as a chocolate teapot and gave up), I only have a couple of fillings. At the dental hospital, they asked me about genetics and they asked me about trauma – I qualified on both of those, both of my parents had false teeth and I admit to having had a couple of whacks to the face over the years. No-one mentioned the menopause.
However, it was only at my recent visit to the hygienist that she told me that lots of women start having gum problems during the menopause. I realised then that the time my gum problems manifested was at around that time. Of course, the genetics don’t help. Interestingly, lots of cats have similar problems, and when they spay cats, it is a total hysterectomy, so effectively inducing the menopause… I wonder…
There is one more thing. We stop menstruating. Whoop, whoop, whoop. (Come on, don’t tell me I’m the only one that hated that? It may be natural but it’s not very nice, and for some of us, painful.)
Ladies, it’s 2019. Don’t be afraid of the menopause. If you are having troublesome symptoms, see your GP, there are lots of things that can be done (lentils and chickpeas if you want to do it without meds, maybe I should write about that…). And maybe you will sail through it.
© Susan Shirley 2019