Menopause – what I have learned so far….

Following on from my last blogpost calling for older women to step into their power especially at Halloween, I thought it might be time to share some insights into menopause; something that is not talked about as much as it should be.  And perhaps if we ‘women of a certain age’ start talking menopause we would encourage women of all ages to keep talking about all related topics (fertility, periods, childbirth etc) which until recently have been solely the preserve of ‘female conversations’.

Ok, so first off, let me say I am no expert in anything but life.  And so, these top tips are all based solely on my personal experience, thus far!

Top Tip – all women experience menopause differently.  We won’t all suffer the same symptoms so sharing our experiences and our methods of coping are very important.  So please leave a helpful comment after this post if you have something that worked for you that you would like to share.

The heat is ON…. and it’s not the immersion!

I had heard horror stories from some friends who suffered terrible night sweats, sweating so profusely that they had to change nightwear and bed sheets.  Thankfully, thus far this hasn’t been my experience but having spent at least 52 of my 56 years feeling the cold, my body now thinks it’s in the tropics most of the time.  A kind of personal global warming that means I now have a horror of woolly jumpers, even on the coldest days.  And polo necks are for the moment definitely a no no.

So, some top tips for dealing with the heat of menopause are:

  • Wear light fabrics and layers that can easily be removed. Scarves (not woolly) ones are fabulous – the disguise a multitude and also can add warmth around your shoulders should you need it, especially in summer.
  • Make sure your car has functioning air conditioning… my aircon was kaput for a few weeks and I was lucky I didn’t expire in that time. I now travel in the comfort of an ice-cold car.  Not great for passengers but in my car the driver calls it on music and ambient temperature.
  • Bedside fan – although I don’t suffer bad night sweats, during sleep I do tend to go from too hot to too cold thought the night. So, a bedside fan is wonderful for blowing some cool air when you get uncomfortable.
  • Gel Pillow – I am still trying this out but it certainly cools down a hot head. Called Your Sandman Cooling Pillow, this gel insert can be placed inside your pillowcase (on top of your regular pillow) and it is cold, icy cold.  Will help cool you down and I then turn it over if I no longer need it.  It’s a bit heavy and bulky but I am still working out how to best use it and am hoping that it will be a great help when I get my next migraine.  But if you want to try it they are available on Amazon UK.

Gone in the head and not gone in the head.

I have suffered with migraines since my mid thirties when they were usually triggered by stress and often (although not always) by my menstrual cycle.  Since I hit menopause my migraines have come back with a bit of a vengeance and can be very debilitating.  Migraine is, like menopause, something that also affects everyone differently so it is vital to try to work out your personal triggers.

As we get older our bodies ability to deal with alcohol changes too and many of us find that we just can’t tolerate the kind of drinking we may have happily indulged in in earlier decades.  Many of us will find that after drinking even a reasonably modest amount (by Irish standards) we don’t sleep well, suffer heartburn and hangovers become worse.  So many of us naturally cut down on our intake.

Me, however, well… I discovered that alcohol (all alcohol) hates me.  And even after a tiny glass of wine I will get a headache that in most cases morphs into a full-blown migraine.  So, after a year of two of experimenting with low alcohol and organic wines I have given up.  No more booze for me.  It’s a bit sad, but hey ho.  And that there is top tip number whatever this is.  Listen to your body and make changes you need to in order to feel better.

On a related note I have also found that I need to drink lots of water…  Yeah, yeah, I know we are all told that.  But I have genuinely found that having a bottle of water with me all the time means that I do drink way more and it also helps me generally feel better, less headachy and less bloated.  Another top tip…. stay hydrated.

The ‘OUCH’ Factor

As we age we naturally become stiffer and less flexible.  And for a few years I kind of accepted that this was just the way it is now.  I thought exercise might help but I hate exercise for exercise sake only.  In other words, I love a nice walk in the countryside but pounding the pavements around suburban Dublin doesn’t really do it for me.  I keep vowing I will take up swimming as I do enjoy it but the palaver of defuzzing and wet hair keeps putting me off…  and yeah, I know that that is only an excuse.  I have also toyed with idea of buying a bike.  Having spent a few days in Sweden and Denmark earlier in the year I have a vision of myself making stately progress through the burbs on my high nelly.  But would I?   Bike lanes terrify me as a car driver…. I would be too terrified to use them on a bike.  Even if I could work out how not to get a sore arse!  Regular cyclists must have bums made of steel.  Mine is made of soft cotton wool!

However, thanks to my youngest daughter I have started doing stretches, yoga moves mainly and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my ability to move without going ‘ouch’.  So, I aim to keep that up and once I am more flexible I might actually take up yoga.  Which won’t make my hair greasy!  Another top tip right there – stretch and bend

Is it bedtime yet?

One of the first symptoms I noticed and put down to menopause was the fact that there are days when I am bone tired and weary.  You know the kind of days that just getting up, showered and dressed makes you feel exhausted.  The kind of exhausted that makes you want to close your eyes and sleep immediately.  Not always possible of course.  Life gets in the way.  But – top tip alert – when I can, I am kind to myself and if I feel that I need a nap and can avail of one, I do.  Although this symptom has lessoned in the last year or so and my energy is generally returning to normal levels now.

Right, so.  These are my thoughts for the moment.  I intend to revisit this topic every so often and would love feedback from you so that we can all share what we have found works and what doesn’t.  Leave a comment if you can!

 

 

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  1. Fantastic! Another fellow menopauser not afraid to chat about the Menopause! I always feel I should shut up and put up when a little menopause complaint slips out….nobody really wants to hear about it!
    I’m coming a bit late to the party with this whole menopause lark as I was gayly kicking the can down the road with a lovely pacifier called HRT! I blissfully enjoyed this wonder drug for 10 years, having gone into menopause early. I was a delight to be around apparently 😉 I wasn’t narky! And … a bonus…I didn’t have periods! Yes – it was bliss alright! Until…I had a mini-stroke earlier this year, and they found a clot in my leg….and my blissful HRT party was over! BOOM! Menopause, bigtime, right in my face!
    NIGHT SWEATS – OMG! Hot flushes every 30 mins, clothes on, clothes off, water, no alcohol (agree), AC on (agree again) – it was fairly awful and really very tiring! It was like 10 years of pent up symptoms were let loose! Pleading with my GP for something before I threw myself off the Pier she gave me “Dixarit” – the irony of it “Dicks are it” – you have to keep your sense of humour!
    5 months in I can honestly say they have merely reduced the hot flushes from every 30 mins to now every 2 hours. Still pretty awful. I soldier on!
    Had to laugh at your bike moment! I had one too – bought the colourful High Nelly (Ok – City Bike!!) It’s been out a couple of times but it’s scary times out there for bike riders and the ol’ confidence has been knocked by the Menopause too, so it’s the “Metals” down to the gallery for me on my High Nelly I’m afraid and no cycle lanes on busy roads!
    Joined the Castle Club for the pool and gym (hate the gym really – never was a gym bunny) so I’ll let you know how I get on with the pool!
    Basically I’ll try anything to be normal again, to wear woolly jumpers (agree on that too!) and sleep a full night and stay awake for a full day… 😜
    Keep up the good work on the Menopause chat Barbara!
    X 😃

  2. Barbara I agree with you that we need to talk more about menopause and more openly. This is a discussion that all women should have as it will inevitably happen to us all. I was totally unaware that there was such a thing as peri menopause and suffered terribly with insomnia and felt very low for a few years before I reached menopause. Only when I started reading up about menopause and its symptoms did I realise what had been going on. I was In my early 40s had was told I was too young to be going through the menopause. I wish I had known at the time things wouldn’t have seemed so bleak. Going through the menopause hasn’t been too bad, touch wood. I think I had the worst of it over me before I even realised.

  3. Corrinne shearlaw November 2, 2018 — 4:57 pm

    That is a fantastic piece Barbara. Like you I no longer have horrific night sweats .. I did when I first started on the Tamoxifen but now I just get a bit hot, wake up, flap the duvet and go back to sleep. There’s a tip .. give your sleep partner most of the duvet and have the edge just over on your side.

    Aches and pains .. I use a Turmeric mix which works wonders .. 50g Turmeric powder, cold water to thick paste, heat for 5mins, add half teaspoon black pepper and dessertspoon coconut oil. Twice daily use half teaspoon in hot water and knock it back. Believe me it’s good!

  4. Barbara – thank you – only input I can give is could we please find a way to educate men on the menopause – my husband and my boss (both men) while they are great guys with thankfully a great sense of humour and think my hot flushes are hilarious 😂- they don’t understand that apart from the ‘funny’ side there is a part of us that need them to support us during a time when we feel a little unattractive and incompetent at work (well I do anyway) …. such a crazy transition ….. thank you for your words today on Ciara Kelly’s show they really struck a chord with me and helped so much ❤️

  5. Maggie Creighton McClure November 3, 2018 — 12:17 am

    Love this article…I’ve opted for a low dose of HRT the symptoms which started in my mid forties just got too much to handle despite trying every herb and vitimin under the sun for natural remedy, I’m doing ok and feeling great on the low dose I have regular check ups and plan on taking it as long as I feel I need it. I can relate to the constant state of heat though I get some weird looks from the hats and scarfs when I’m walking about in a sweatshirt or top with no jacket!

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