Lynne Mortimer: Before starting out, whatever you do, don’t shrink and shave

Lynne Mortimer fears what may happen if she ceases HRT

Lynne Mortimer fears what may happen if she ceases HRT - Credit: Archant

The doctor thinks maybe I should gently wean myself off Hormone Replacement Therapy, writes columnist Lynne Mortimer.

When she noticed the dangerous glint in my eyes, she qualified this by suggesting the dosage be reduced as a prelude to ending my association with HRT. Heavens to Murgatroyd. Will I cease taking the tablets on Sunday and shrivel up on Monday?

Will I lose weight? Will my boobs, which have been defying gravity quite well, suddenly plummet towards the ground and swing around like tennis balls inserted down the legs of a pair of tights? I’m worried that HRT has been masking my true physical decrepitude. Maybe I will be agreeably surprised and find that nothing much happens... I might even lose weight. But I’m not optimistic. I’ll probably lose height instead. I know this is not a given and it doesn’t happen to other women but other women (Helen Mirren grrr) seem so much better at keeping their bodies in shape than me. I’m not even sure what shape I am. I used to be a conference pear but I think I’m now more a butternut squash.

All my friends do stuff. Jane is a member of a gym and thus toned. Gill does pilates about which I know nothing except that it is pronounced with three syllables. Nicola plays tennis and cycles. Liv runs marathons for charity. Cathy sails. You may be surprised to learn I am not a natural athlete. When, on occasion, I tread the boards in a musical, there may be a little choreographed movement but more often than not the parts I play (old women who look as if they’ve sucked a lemon) are required only to look on in either (a) approval or (b) disapproval.

The range of expressions required of the older thespian is often thus limited. You don’t get much romantic action when you’re 60... I refer to acting, of course. Oh, yes, and in real life.

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No, a bit of shimmying around in the back row of the chorus is not going to be enough to keep me looking “good for my age”.

Not that I am looking to be patronised, I want to look good. Full stop.

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I am not a natural athlete but I feel, in the looming absence of HRT that I will be needing a challenge; something more than killer sudoku or playing Scrabble - lifting the boxed board game out of the top of the wardrobe is about as energetic as it gets.

I have, perhaps, another year before my hormones are withdrawn and I want the transition from HRT to be a smooth one. I want my body outline to be a smooth one too.

Is yoga the answer? (You haven’t asked a question, Lynne. ED)

According to Wikipedia, yoga “is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in India.” After this sentence it got a bit complicated for a while but reading on it seems to be okay to just do the moves. My mum just had a mat when she did yoga.

I used to be able to do the lotus which is when, in a sitting position, you tuck your right foot into the top of left thigh and left foot into the top of the right thigh. So arranged, you really don’t need the phone to ring. Some yoga experts will then do a headstand still in this position. I never got further than wincing with pain.

With my replacement left knee, the lotus is out because I’m not as bendy as I used to be.

I expect there are still yogic manoeuvres I could manage to increase my “wellness”... what an awful word. Next thing you know I’ll be weller than I was and might become the wellest I’ve ever been.

So I’m thinking yoga for the body and maybe my inner Lynne, if I have one. I’m not very spiritual; maybe a gin and tonic once a week.

The other thing that concerns me about stopping HRT is the hairs on my chin. At the moment, I just pluck out random hairs but I don’t want a burgeoning, even though yogis tend to be bearded. My auntie Millie in Haddiscoe used to shave. I would watch, fascinated and when she’d rinsed off the shaving foam she would put my hand to her chin and, with a broad smile, say: “Feel that. Soft as a baby’s bum.”

Do you know what? I’m simply going to stay gorgeous and Vaseline the mirrors for soft focus.

See more from Lynne here

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