It could be a cartoon doing the rounds of your mailboxes, but it’s based on facts. A word of caution though. The seven worst symptoms of menopause are also common to middle age, which, in these exercise-bereft stress-ridden times, may start at 40. So even if you show all the seven symptoms, you may still be far away from the real thing. Still, a visit to the doctor would be in order.
Does your skin feel as if it is winter even during summer?
The itchiness results from a general drying of the skin as the oestrogen level of your body starts dropping. Lots of water and exercise will help combat this.
Do you generally feel peeved with the world and are prone to snapping at people?
Mood changes, from jovial to super-cranky, are more usual before actual menopause, partly brought on from juggling too many things at midlife—career, growing children, caring for elderly parents or in-laws, even a menopausal husband. Make a concerted effort to be happy, go jogging or plan activities and holidays with women friends.
The dreaded hot flashes can happen to three-quarters of women. There’s really no cure, except to keep a change of clothes in an office drawer. Also keep fragrant tissues or a small vial of perfume handy.
Little or restless sleep at night, leading to dozing off at work can be fatiguing as well as embarrassing. Our sleep gets lighter as we grow older, and even our own snoring can disturb it. Try to cut out caffeine after noon, wrap up work faster and avoid bright lights at late evening. Stay off sleeping pills.
Many women put on a lot of weight at this time, and also start retaining water. A healthy fibre-rich diet and a daily dose of exercise, however brief, could stop that “big-momma” feeling.
A history of mood problems, trouble concentrating and dry eyes can affect memory or retention. Get organized. Write down things, if you’re forgetting too much or if you have a high-pressure job.
Getting into panic attacks or even a depression is common at this time. Check with your doctor for any neglected thyroid or heart problem. If severe, a short dose of antidepressants would help. A simple solution: Get yourself a hobby such as gardening or pottery, or even learning to play the piano.
Never neglect severe symptoms. These might push you towards dementia, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases or even a stroke. But always remember, preparing for menopause is just part of preparing for old age.
The more equipped you are, the better you can handle it. By the way, most women find the years between 45 and 55 the best years of their lives. It is all in your hands.