Feeling hot, hot, hot... yes, it’s menopause at last

Menopause - it had to happen some time. Picture: Jim Vallee/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Menopause - it had to happen some time. Picture: Jim Vallee/Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s off with the HRT... and the duvet and the pyjamas as menopause takes hold

The whites of my eyes have not turned orange. I detect no horn buds growing on my head, and I am not shopping online for chainsaws.

Yet I have been off the Hormone Replacement Therapy for nearly two weeks now. My doctors had been gently nagging me for a year or more, suggesting it might be time for me to pause for menopause – but I have been reluctant.

First, I did not look forward to the return of night sweats, hot flushes and panic attacks, and second, I have been absolutely fine; human, even. I have been on the pills for around 10 years, with previous attempts to wean me off abandoned by medics when I bared my teeth and growled at them.

As I pointed out to one of the older doctors at my surgery, now retired, his mid-life crisis has propelled him into buying a sports car, leather jacket and designer shades while mine (ie menopause) was giving me heat rash and areas of uncomfortable dryness. While he was zapping through the countryside, looking cool, I was at home, moisturising. I ask you: is that fair?

But, cavil as I may, the time had come. I needed to face up to a future without those pesky hormones. It is early days, of course, but so far so good. I haven’t hurt anyone and I haven’t had to rip off my pyjamas in the middle of the night and frighten my husband. I did have the odd moment ? such as when my daughter asked what I’d done to my eyebrows, and it turned out I was using a gingery-hued eye shadow instead of the brow highlighter.

I know women who have sailed through menopause (not literally), women who have managed to cope with the help of primrose oil and yoga – and other women like me, who find themselves going through a turmoil of emotions, physical symptoms and brain fails. I once stood up a friend who I was supposed to be meeting for lunch... not once, but twice. She still talks to me, but we haven’t done lunch in years,

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For me, Hormone Replacement has been great, but maybe now is the time to grow older gracefully... I’ll think about it, anyway ? no guarantees.

In the meantime I am on alert for withdrawal symptoms. Will all my hot flushes come at once? Am I at risk of a volcanic couple of days when I turn bright red and pulsate with heat? Should I put a waterproof mattress protector on the bed in case a night sweat becomes a tsunami? Will my voice get lower?

The mood swings could be a problem as I am already prone to them. On one day, last week, I had two emails headed “Ho ho ho!”, which I immediately deleted and felt a pleasurable thrill as I did so. I am thinking I might celebrate Black Friday (November 23) with a black mood. I am ready to have relentlessly upbeat emails from PR people called Pandora and Peterkin bombarding my inbox.

On the plus side ? and yes, I have identified a positive ? HRT can prompt weight gain or, more accurately in my case, eating too much. Maybe my seven-year mission to be size 12 again ? I am currently hovering on the edge of size 18 ? will finally succeed, although, unlike the sweating, it is unlikely to happen overnight.

After nearly two weeks without extra hormones, I have developed an interesting area of flushing... I won’t go into great detail but suffice it to say that when I looked it up on Google, the result at the top of the page was: “How to successfully carve pork loin.” I didn’t look any further.

As I enter this new phase of my life, I look to new horizons, greater wisdom and a smaller size in clothes. But before I reach that horizon I will have to work through this late-onset menopause. And so will my husband, my family and everyone who knows me.

• Last week’s Monday Feeling about being patronised chimed with Maggy and her sister who are fashionable, active women of a similar age to me. Maggy writes of her worst experience of being patronised, which took place in a branch of a women’s boutique. “I purchased a pair of tight jacquard jeans (trendy, I thought) and the assistant said: ‘You thought you’d have a little look round the shops did you, dear – it’s nice to get out of the house now and again isn’t it?’” (I’m a busy farmer’s wife and it was a whistle-stop trip.) I was so flabbergasted I grabbed my purchase and fled, but every time I wear those jeans I feel annoyed.”

Maggy hasn’t shopped there since.

I’m liking the sound of those jeans though, Maggy.

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