At the last few gatherings, we’ve been at, there’s one topic that we’ve noticed women over 40 are itching to talk about, menopause. All it takes is for one person to say something and the flood gates of conversation will flow. Someone will say, ‘thank god we’re talking about this. No one does.’
But why is no one talking about something half the population will go through at some point?
You don’t need to answer that, the answer of course is the shame and stigma that is somehow still attached to women and their bodies. Menopause signifies the time your body makes the natural transition ending of the reproductive years. According to the Australian Menopause Society (yes, there is such a thing!), the word ‘menopause’ refers to the last or final menstrual period a woman experiences and when you’ve had no periods for 12 consecutive months, you are considered to be ‘postmenopausal’.
We decided to reach out to our community and ask them to share their menopause moments and how they’ve decided to deal with whatever the hell their bodies have decided they’d transition into this next chapter.
I decided to just change my life, my expectations of myself
“Nothing can prepare you for what menopause really is. I know everyone has different symptoms and varying degrees of them, but for me it was like a switch was flicked and I had changed. Pre-menopause brings on a gentle, slow onset of things like, extra sweating, change in periods and body shape. But when my period stopped completely, it was like I woke up one day and I was different. I looked in the mirror and wondered what the hell happened to my skin! It was like it had crept overnight. The hot flashes are not as cute as they sound. It feels like you are on fire and everything touching you, including your hair feels like an electric blanket on high.
The fatigue, brain fog and irritability are the symptoms that threw me the most. I didn’t see those coming. I used to bounce out of bed like Tigger in the mornings and now I am more like Eeyore. So, for a busy, ambitious high-achieving woman, menopause feels like the worst long service gift ever, after a lifetime of giving everything a women gives – having children, caring for everyone around them and working your bum off.
After I grieved the initial onset of menopause (and all its cruelty). I decided to just change my life, my expectations of myself, my schedule and my attitude, to suit where I am now. I allow myself to just sit in bed in the mornings and enjoy a gentler start to the day. I have dialled back my workload to suit my energy and motivation levels and I am very, very kind and gentle with myself.
I have surrendered to the stage of life I am in, and as a result, it is much easier and more enjoyable to journey through. Menopause is not in our control, but our attitude, how we manage our expectations of ourselves and the stage we are in, with self-love and self-compassion, most certainly is.”
I ended up having a hysterectomy
“To me perimenopause feels like the last frontier of women’s taboo health. Firstly, it’s a challenging topic to talk about because if you’re suffering from symptoms, it’s an admission that you’re getting older. Secondly, there’s a lot we don’t understand about it. It was only in the last two years that I understood the difference between perimenopause and menopause – up until then I thought they were the same thing!
For me, my biggest issue was that my periods became unbearably heavy two years ago. I was having regular iron infusions to keep up with the blood loss and for two to three days a month I would have to make sure I was only a short dash from a toilet every 30 minutes – no exaggeration. After having fibroids nine months ago, it didn’t fix the issue, so I ended up having a hysterectomy three months ago. Best bloody decision I ever made; I can’t believe what I had been putting up with.
As women, we talk a lot about the issues of falling pregnant, being pregnant, having a baby and post-pregnancy, but I would love to see more women talking openly about their experiences with perimenopause. I’ve made it a personal mission to wedge perimenopause into as many conversations with women in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s as I am, and you can pretty much guarantee the response is ‘yeah, I’ve had <insert several symptoms> for years” and we start sharing stories, remedies and medical contacts. We need to start talking more openly about it because it’s real and we can all help each other more the more we talk about it.”
NONE of my friends are talking about it
“I’m 48 years old and I’m perimenopausal and NONE of my friends are talking about it, prepared for it or even really understand it. We know a bit about menopause but think it’s years away. It’s not. I felt sideswiped. Hot flashes, depression, anxiety, irregular bleeding and a vajayjay as dry as the Sahara. It’s not a picnic and it can last SEVEN years! Thanks to HRT and antidepressants and creams I’m coping. But I wish I’d been forewarned.”
Who doesn’t love walking around three tampons deep?
“As if working your huckleberry off in an industry that that should, quite frankly be renamed, “the club for the pale, male and stale’, only to hit the peak of your career and be presented again with heavy periods. What am I, 16? I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love walking around three tampons deep and a giant as ‘heavy flow pad’ (as not to leak all over yourself as you present that executive workshop). Let’s top this all off with the fact that this can occur 10 years before hot flushes, hair loss and weight gain. I mean – thank you universe! Thank you for this blessed gift you call my body doing what it does naturally.”
It became a constant battle to control my temper
“The more we talk about it, the less women will feel like they are losing their minds when [menopause] hits. For me, it was the uncontrollable anger I developed! I have never been an angry person, but the minute I was in my car, road rage took over. It became a constant battle to control my temper, not only in my car but with the people around me.
Tack on insomnia and you have the perfect storm. Let’s not discuss the hot flashes which are awful, and worse when you live in a hot climate and must wear a mask! I have tried HRT – worked for some symptoms but brought my period back and quite frankly that’s the only good thing in [menopause] for me. I went off them after six months on the advice of my gynaecologist.
I’ve tried the natural route, and some helped for a while. Now I am just sucking it up, knowing this too shall pass!”
Cindy Till Donald
Feeling nervous? Rest assured, it’s not all doom and gloom ahead. We interviewed founder and creator of Barre Body, Emma Seibold, who has collaborated with Benefit Pocket, to get her advice on how women can navigate this new chapter of their lives- hot flashes and all!
What fitness styles inspired the program?
My own background blends yoga, Pilates and barre and so the workouts in this program are heavily influenced by these disciplines. Knowing how important it is to build muscle mass after menopause to support bone health and understanding how women’s aptitude for (and attitude towards) movement changes as they get older, the program I’ve developed is called Slow Strength and it’s all about building strength in a way that’s slow and steady and achievable for all women. I’ve also blended other very important elements of mobility (keeping the joints supple and flexible), balance (crucial as we age as our balance lessens) and gentle cardio for cardiovascular health.
The classes are short (30 mins) and focus on delivering the best results (mobility + strength + balance + fitness) in the most effective way.
How can exercise help you reach your health goals?
Regular exercise is so important for all of us, particularly as we move through the phase of perimenopause and menopause. Exercise is proven to boost mood, and this is crucial at a time when so many hormonal changes are taking place. Exercise also helps to keep menopausal women fit, healthy and feeling positive about their bodies as well as increasing general health and wellbeing.
Many women gain weight during menopause due to hormonal changes and lack of exercise and this program is designed to keep women moving in a way that feels good and is relatively easy and enjoyable.
What advice do you have to women who are transitioning to this new phase of their life?
Stay active and positive. You can have a healthier and happier body than ever if you choose to.
Do exercise you love. It’s far easier to stick to a program of exercise that you enjoy.
Organise regular walks or exercise sessions with a friend. Make it a social event; you are far more likely to stick to your fitness routine if someone else is doing it with you because you’ll not only enjoy it more, but you will be inspired to keep each other accountable.
Want a little more support?
Benefit Pocket is the app that guides and rewards you for making healthy choices every day, and they are giving Business Chicks 30% off all of their courses (including their menopause course).
Developed with those in-the-know in the world of health and designed to empower women to take control of this phase of their lives, Be Mpowered is a Signature Course is enriched with health and wellness support that is tried and tested- and not from some online ‘blogger’ who swears goji berries can cure all!
Just use the code BUSINESSCHICKS30 at checkout to redeem. The offer is valid until 30 June 2022.
Plus, enrol in the course today and upgrade to Expert Access to receive a welcome gift, live webinar and 1:1 messaging with women’s health GPs to health guide you through your course.