Menopause – what really happens!

It is time to talk!

The Menopause is a natural condition that affects all women at some stage of their life. At least one in four women have severe symptoms, which detrimentally affect their family, home and work life. This is something we know is coming at us, as women, but it has been a taboo subject for so long and makes people uncomfortable just talking about it.

So what is the menopause?

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.

Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly.

The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51.

Too tired to function

So what typically are the symptoms of menopause?

Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities.

Common symptoms include:

  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  • difficulty sleeping
  • low mood or anxiety
  • reduced sex drive (libido)
  • problems with memory and concentration
  • weight gain
Menopause symptoms

Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around 4 years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.

So what really happens in the menopause?

  • Well you feel tired due to night sweats, and trouble sleeping – which makes anyone grouchy
  • You struggle with what to wear due to the irregular body temperature – heating on…heating off…heating on and how you deal with the flushes at work.
  • You may start to gain weight, so new clothes may be required, and weight loss becomes really tricky!
  • Funnily enough sex can become very low down on the agenda and it is not to do with your partner. You feel out of control of your body – you may have gained weight – you are not feeling the most attractive right now.
  • You think you have early onset dementia. Seriously, not being dismissive of dementia but you start to struggle to remember names, where you are supposed to be, what happened 6 minutes ago, why you are in a certain room. It is actually quite scary!
  • This is just the tip of the iceberg … check out more here
Symptoms include lack of energy and focus

Been there …seen it …got the T-shirt and jumper!

For me personally, I had a really difficult time going through the initial stages of menopause.

  • I put on 2 stone in 6 months – I felt fat, unattractive and like I had lost my mojo
  • I started flooding and became anemic. This was really difficult to handle at work. I had to have a change of clothes (just in case), it was distracting and quite distressing, plus I had NO energy!
  • I couldn’t remember anything. My kids thought I was losing the plot. I tried to hide it at work. I forgot peoples names I knew really well.
  • My night sweats meant showers in the middle of the night and added to my tiredness.
  • I withdrew a lot, lost some of my confidence – which considering I was running a business unit in a fast paced environment, was a challenge in its own right. I had to really put on my ‘mask’ every day to ‘get through it’
  • I then had lots of hospital investigations, they were considering a hysterectomy …then my endocrinologist checked my thyroid levels … they had to quadruple my medication and it all eased almost overnight … my bloods restored to normal levels … basically peri menopause triggered a big shift in my thyroid function which then stopped me going into menopause … my body fought itself .
Hot flushes – Hot…cold…hot

All this menopausal stuff, whilst looking after 3 kids, hubby, family and a challenging corporate role! I was lucky, I had a very supportive hubby, a great manager at the time and supportive friends. But no-one had been through it – so I felt very alone! If it wasn’t for the chats with my mum I would have gone mad I think!

I’m out of the other side (post menopause) now loving life again. But this really affected me, my work and my life and health … it is really important to talk about this. So ladies if you are struggling with coping with all this, if you fancy a chat feel free to get in touch, join my free PrimePersona Leading Ladies on Facebook or sign up to Leading Ladies where we discuss all sorts of challenges and support each other through our work journey.

Also check out : The Menopause Charity

Together we can bust myths, overcome ignorance and support our fellow women

It is possibly one of the most hidden topics out there. We need to share what really happens, we need to talk and support each other through this and educate so men and women alike can help you through it – at home, at work and at play.

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