When a doctor announced unceremoniously that she was going through the menopause, Jane Watson, 52, admits to feeling a little stunned. “I felt I was passing from being fresh, plump and fecund to a withered old crone,” she says.
But after three years, she’s embraced the menopause and even feels positive about some of its more negative symptoms. “I feel it’s still throwing new balls at me,” she shrugs. “But there are some fantastic things too. I haven’t felt really deep joy like I do now. Even little things such as gazing at my garden will inspire me. I don’t miss my periods, the bloatedness or the food cravings.”
Watson, a movement therapist [a form of therapy that uses dance and movement to promote holistic wellbeing], admits never once discussing the menopause with her mother as a teenager. She – and many others – believe we need to talk more, as well as more openly. “The women I see want to quieten their anxious minds,” she says.
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone and that change is part of being a woman, so embrace it and be proud. Several prominent women have spoken publicly about the menopause and online groups have sprung up sharing – and laughing – about the highs and lows they experience, while dedicated social media accounts pool advice and provide a virtual shoulder to cry on.
But there’s no substitute for a face-to-face chat, says Sally Jane Webster, a counsellor who’s held support groups for menopausal women to talk. “It’s a complex subject. Women are caught at an age when their children are leaving home and they’re caring for elderly parents. It can be tricky to find sufficient time with a GP to sit down for long enough to address the issues.” If we don’t talk, she says, women might not even recognise their symptoms. “It helps to understand the cause and know you’re not going mad.”
There’s no fixed agenda to the menopause, points out Karen Borley, a marketer. “Some friends sail through and out the other side. Others – it comes up and smacks them in the face.” A sympathetic ear, she believes, can go a long way.
She’s experienced sudden mood swings, anxiety attacks and aching joints, but has also developed a new-found love for jogging: exercise is a great mood lightener, she says.
"And so is being upfront about it. Loss of libido is a tricky thing to confront. As women we’re taught not to moan and to get on with it. I’m looking forward to a time when I can go out with grey hair – and red lipstick of course – but not feel I’m competing with other women to look attractive.”
Humour, she believes, only goes so far. “It tends to be superficial – laugh and move on rather than deal with it. Talking properly stops you feeling isolated.”
And whenever wellness coach Katie Shorrock sees groups of women of a similar age together – at a dance class, at her book club, at networking events – she knows conversations will mostly revolve around the menopause. “These are ‘safe’ environments. You can almost see them getting the benefits of doing something for themselves. The endorphins from dance, the benefit of sharing experiences. Normally you’re charging around looking after everybody else. Work, husbands and kids can all be demanding. You need to rescue time for yourself.”
Quite often, she says, some of the symptoms can be alleviated with gentle changes to diet – less alcohol or coffee, as well as consuming more fish, soya and green vegetables and legumes.
And there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Women who emerge from the menopause often say they feel liberated and rediscover their old levels of energy. And, most importantly, feel free to talk about what you are going through. “Remember,” says Shorrock. “We live a third of our lives after menopause. We should embrace it.”
The menopause can be tough on you and your skin, but Neovadiol can help meet your unique skincare needs at this time. With 14 years’ research behind it, Neovadiol works to reduce the appearance of the signs of ageing that come with hormonal changes, helping your skin feel intensely hydrated and helping you put the ‘me’ back in menopause. This article reflects the opinions of Sally Jane Webster and Katie Shorrock and is intended as general information only. You should seek advice from a professional before starting any new regime or course of conduct.
This article is intended as general information only. Seek advice from your GP before starting a new exercise regime. Ask a qualified trainer to demonstrate exercise moves.