Until a few years ago I hadn’t. I had assumed it was because I wasn’t at that stage of life yet and I tend to find when you’re suddenly interested in something or read something relevant to you, you then start to see it everywhere. But, no, I just don’t think it’s talked about enough. I’ve listened to a few of the Postcards from midlife podcasts which are great, by Lorraine Candy, (ex Elle, Cosmo and Sunday Times Style Editor,) and Trish Halpin, (Ex Marie Claire editor,) both of whom are in their early 50’s and admit to having not heard the word peri menopause until really recently. If two, fingers-on-the-pulse women who have spent their lives editing women’s magazines hadn’t heard of it, then how would the rest of us? It wasn’t that it had just passed me by, it was that NO-ONE was talking about it.
Why is that? Is it that women feel some sense of shame about it? That we’re subconsciously still in some Neanderthal state where your attractiveness is measured by your ability to procreate and once you can no longer do that, you’re past it? It occurred to me only recently, that in Sex and The City Two, (yes, I know the second film was a let down, but I’ve watched it a few times anyway,) Samantha is going though peri menopause, but the actual word is never mentioned. References to yams, gels and hormones are, (which I honestly thought when I first watched it, was some kind of anti-aging regime!) but not the actual M word. If the show that bought us never-before-seen openness and frankness about women’s sexual and emotional needs can’t mention it, what hope do we have?
What is peri menopause exactly? I am no expert but have been doing a lot of reading recently. In the ten years or so before a woman actually goes through menopause, (which is defined as not having had a period for a year,) they can experience a multitude of symptoms and changes, termed as peri menopausal. Starkly illustrated in the post below by Dr Naomi Potter AKA Dr Menopause Care on Instagram, (I discovered her through the super lovely Fran from The Fashion Lift,) and have found following her hugely helpful.
I also strongly feel that women’s health is just not taken seriously. I understand to a greater extent that GP’s might not know as much about, or miss symptoms of Endometriosis as it’s not as common, (although 1 in 10 women suffer from it). But HALF THE POPULATION go through menopause!!! Why is there not more readily available information and education, why are doctors not actually reaching out to women to give them advice at say 45 on what they might expect? Why are older women not sharing their stories as much? Those magazines I love; Red, Elle and Vogue, are not only for those in their 20’s and 30’s, so why are they not featuring more articles on it which will educate younger women as well? I am certainly not ready for the likes of Woman and Home yet!
I had a doctor’s appointment this week to to discuss peri menopause. It was a phone appointment, ‘cos, you know, Corona, which was not ideal. I was armed with my own research, as I am worried about coming off the Pill which I am on for my Endo but believe I am having peri menopausal symptoms as well which are becoming quite debilitating. I wanted to know what my options were. The (female) doctor was quite unsympathetic, slightly rude and snarky about that fact I had done research, she didn’t know whether I could have the Pill and HRT and said she would have to look it up. I had a plethora of blood tests on Friday to rule out low blood sugar and thyroid issues as they could be causing night sweats and lack of sleep, (I think not, but we shall see,) and I have a follow up call in just over a week. The Doctor didn’t use the word ‘peri menopause,’ just menopause and said women go through that at around 52, so I was quite young, I said the symptoms can be up to ten years before and she just ignored me. I have also read that women who haven’t had children usually go through it earlier as well. I honestly think if I hadn’t said I thought I was peri menopausal, with my symptoms, she would never have suggested it, (which are night sweats, complete lack of sleep – I’ve slept through the night about three times in the last two and a half months, anxiety – have never had it in my life before, and feeling very emotional which is not like me). I suppose these could all be related to the stress of this year, but I really don’t think so, my physical response is not representative of how I feel. I ended the call feeling angry, not listened to and emotional which was not helpful.
It just makes me angry that this is such a struggle, not a normal part of a woman’s life that you can readily access help for. Am I the only one who feels like this? As I said, I am no expert, I have very limited knowledge about this and I am just embarking on this stage of life, but I hope to learn more and I will share any useful resources I find and good people to follow or listen to. Do let me know if you know of any below as well.