Word cloud for menopause symptoms
Blood, Sweat & Tears,  Life,  Women's Health Matters

A Woman of a Certain Age

I have just been offered HRT for menopause. Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Nothing unusual about that I guess. A woman in her 50s – surely that’s quite commonplace?

Most women will go through the menopause at some stage in their life.

And some will almost certainly turn to some kind of help to deal with their symptoms.

Except I wasn’t expecting to be menopausal. I considered myself one of the lucky ones.

I was confirmed peri menopausal in my late 40s, pretty much as expected. I was used to mood swings and heavy menstruation. Endometriosis made damn sure of that. So those symptoms were already a part of my life. They were just a wee bit more erratic.

But I pretty much sailed through the menopause. I live in the Cairngorms where it can be bloody cold, even on a summer’s day. So I was kind of looking forward to hot flushes. I might even be able to leave my fleece off! But no, they were not part of the pattern. At least, not my pattern anyway.

Warning: If you are prone to getting queasy or fainting then look away now. I am about to mention the “b” word.

My last ever bleed was over two years ago. And pretty spectacular too. Argh sorry.  I mean spectacular timing, of course. Smelling salts anyone? I was in the middle of Tanzania you see. A tented camp, run entirely by men. Not one female guest below a certain age. If you get my drift. I had packed only a tiny emergency pack of sanitary stuff. Just as an insurance policy. Because it wouldn’t happen. And even if it did, it wouldn’t be anything to speak of. Eight months since my last period, I already thought (hoped) it was probably game over. 

But my body has always taken great delight in bowling me a curve ball.

And it did. I won’t give you the full and gory details (the last reader isn’t up off the floor yet) but suffice it to say, my wee emergency pack was not going to see me through to the next camp. A camp I was praying for a female member of staff, of an age where she might have her own supply if nothing else.  So that was me, carefully planning my days, and making my own sanitary towels! It made me realise just what girls and women in some parts of Africa have to go through each month, that’s for sure.

But back to the plot.

You are safe to look again now.

Menopause

As I say. Just over two years ago, having survived THAT episode with my dignity still intact, I really was patting myself on the back. Still no flushes. No brain fog. Nothing to see, move along. Post menopause. We are all done here. Time to look ahead to a period free life. 

No more big bulky knickers for me. Yep. That’s totally true. For eight days a month. Because my Endo meant TV ads, with women enjoying their carefree periods in thongs and white trousers, were something I could only dream about.

Oops! Sorry, I said I had finished mentioning that messy stuff!

Instead, being post menopause I could look forward to healthy iron levels again. I would have more energy. And I could free up “that” drawer in the bathroom too! Seriously grumpy Marie would be a thing of the past. Mr Smith would no longer ask what day of the month it was, wondering how much longer he had to tread on those eggshells. Ooh, exciting times ahead.

By last summer I was feeling pretty fantastic! Happy, healthy, way fewer mood swings and a very positive outlook on life.

And more bathroom storage, to boot. Woo hoo!

I was having a few sweaty nights.

No, not of the bedroom rumpy-pumpy kind. I mean I was waking in the night, sweating cobs, drenched pyjamas, the lot. But you may remember the summer of 2018 was pretty damned awesome. It was hot, even in the Caringorms. It was liberating to throw off the duvet in gay abandon. So, still no alarm bells ringing here. 

Then I was in my studio, listening to Dr Sarah Jarvis on Jeremy Vine’s show on Radio 2 and she mentioned night sweats in connection with lymphoma. My ears pricked up and, despite worrying the GP would tell me off for listening to that stuff, I booked an appointment anyway.

And so began several weeks, turning into months, ruling out anything serious. And I am glad to say, after a full MOT, my night sweats were finally declared “coming back to thinking probably hormonal. It’s not common but it can happen later for some women”.

Damn! There goes my body bowled curve ball again.

It would take another five months ending with a total, snotty, sobbing meltdown at my GP surgery before the menopause word would raise its head again. And with it those three letters – HRT


To join the conversation around this topic, or to be first to know when the next in the series is out, head to She Wordsmiths on Facebook. She Wordsmiths will be back to talk more women’s health. Meanwhile have you heard of Menopause Cafe? Increasing awareness of the impact of the menopause on those experiencing it, their friends, colleagues and families, so that we can make conscious choices about this third stage of life

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