That al’ nickum the menopause is suddenly big news again.
Or “The Change” as my mum and her mates used to only whisper – such a dreaded female affliction. (They also only mouthed “pregnant” or its alternative, “fallen”. Ye gods.)
At the House of Commons women and equalities committee on Wednesday, members debated how the law could protect menopausal women in the workplace, with thousands giving up their jobs because they can’t cope. Elsewhere, 40-something celebs have been highlighting the horrors of the perimenopause, before the full kaboodle kicks in.
Tell me about it. My early-onset hit at the beginning of the 1990s when I was barely 42, at the worst possible time. I’d recently met the man who’d become my second hubby. And newly promoted to a demanding, day and night job as assistant editor of The Press & Journal. Perfect for welcoming a major reconfiguration of yer body chemistry, dontchathink?
Men don’t half have it easy; no menstruation, no childbirth, no menopause, no hassle.
I was the perfect mobile brazier
I started sweating in bed, then the hideous hot flushes several times a day. I went to work in the thinnest possible collarless blouses, even in the depths of winter.
Only women who have suffered these incendiary devils can fully understand how debilitating they are. The heat starts deep down then works its way up over the chest, to the now-scarlet neck, up to your deep puce face, until it hits the top of yer peer napper where, at bilin’ point, the lid of the pressure cooker suddenly unscrews and you cool doon like a deflated balloon.
On wintry walks, my man reckoned I was the perfect mobile brazier.
I erupted a’wye aroon the office, but worst when I was chairing daily news conferences – the only woman, crushingly embarrassed at having to keep swipin’ the trickling sweat aff my bright red brow.
After the first few times, I decided to ‘fess up. “Sorry, you guys, I’m going through the menopause. Just be delighted you lucky sods don’t have to suffer it.” After that, like all good newsmen, they just made loads of hilarious and highly dubious jokes about it. That suited me fine.
Searching for a cure
But fit aboot a cure? Somebody suggested black cohosh – a so-called natural substitute for estrogen, never scientifically proved. In spite of many swallowings, it didn’t work.
I heard the symptoms came back as bad as ever (like a renewed menopause) once you came off the drug. Panic, panic
After being referred to the menopause clinic at ARI, I reluctantly went on to HRT, in spite of warnings it could cause breast cancer and other side effects. It fair did the trick; bye-bye flushes and brain fog. Miraculous.
When I forgot to take it on holiday once, my hubby reckoned I’d instantly crumble into an old crone. Then I heard the symptoms came back as bad as ever (like a renewed menopause) once you came off the drug. Panic, panic.
I’d been on it for three or four years, demanded to come off, and waited… Nothing. Officially an al’ wifie. Yippee!
Moreen Simpson is a former assistant editor of The Press & Journal and started her journalism career in 1970