women

God is a bloke. What else could explain all the biological ordeals women endure? It begins with menstruation, where we get taken hostage by our hormones once a month, then pregnancy and childbirth, where you stretch your birth canal the customary ten kilo metres. Mastitis follows, then finally the menopause. And then just when everything goes quite, do you know what happens? You grow a beard. Is that fair, I ask you?

Description: What else could explain all the biological ordeals women endure?

What else could explain all the biological ordeals women endure?

The telltale sign that I had entered the perimenopausal phase was that I started having my own weather. About 20 times a day, I would start sweating so much I thought I was being interrogated by the Gestapo. Of course, a hot flush is rather convenient if it coincides with an English winter. But not so comfortable when you’re on the tube in rush hour. Beet-faced, boiling away like a lobster, shirt wringing wet, I wonder why mother nature puts women into meltdown? Is there a giant fry-up going on in our ovaries of all those remaining eggs? Experts aren’t sure. But endless nights of interrupted sleep meant that I had so many bags under my eyes, I belonged on a luggage carousel.

As if being delirious from sleep deprivation wasn’t bad enough, I was also having major mood swings. It was like being a hormonal teenager again, except this time with wrinkles instead of pimples.

Drastic action was needed. But what? HRT patches? Synthetic steroids? Black cohosh and other herbal remedies? A toy boy? Or…just move to the Arctic? I asked around. One girlfriend has taken to carrying a fan everywhere she goes. I tried fanning for a week, but the continual frantic waving gave me repetitive strain.

Other girlfriends swear by natural remedies. But, after a month of pill popping, I felt like donating any money I might have spent on herbal “remedies” to charity because they just didn’t work for me. Swallowing a herb to counteract hormonal upheaval is as effective as trying to kill Genghis Khan with a paper cut.

Hormone replacement therapy seemed the only solution. I asked my doctor to prescribe some patches and slapped one on my rump. But I was slightly put off by the fact that HRT is made from mare’s urine. Would I start counting with one foot and tossing my name in the wind?

Despite all my experimentation with treatments, all I seem to say of late is, “Is it hot in out loud. To my mother’s generation, the menopause was a shameful secret. I vaguely remember my mother huddling with my aunties in a cardigan ED coven in the kitchen, murmuring darkly about “the change”, while glancing nervously over their shoulders as though Dark Lord was about to descend with a chariot of gargoyles. Having the menopause seem the equivalent of catching dengue fever or diphtheria.

But my girlfriends and I are always comparing flushes and fanning each other to us, the menopause is liberating. It frees a woman from the anxieties of fertility and contraception. What joy to never again take the one test you can’t cheat on – the pregnancy test.

Description: What joy to never again take the one test you can’t cheat on – the pregnancy test.

What joy to never again take the one test you can’t cheat on – the pregnancy test.

The other great positive about the menopause is that it gives us licence to behave badly. After decades of mollifying overwrought teenagers about their acne and broken hearts or pacifying an irascible husband over car dents or huge heating bills, my family are having to tiptoe around me for a change. Come the menopause, it’s allowable to turn into Attila the Hen. I now cuss and curse and shake my fist when 4 x 4s vroom past, shuddering with doomf doomf bass. I make scathingly sarcastic remarks about nose piercings, corporate jargon and people famous for just being famous. Selfish, opinionated, curmudgeonly – in short, menopause lets you behave like a man. The expression “the change will do me good” has never seemed so apt.

If you need more inspiration, just think of all the women in positions of power around the world, from Hillary Clinton to Angela Merkel to Christine Lagarde. Are all of them menopausal? You Betcha!

I feel I’m on the brink of the most exciting phase of my life… once I get over these damn heat waves. For anyone else going through the menopause, let me just say that I’m thinking of you… and have a bucket of ice at the ready! Kathy Lette’s latest bestseller is The Boy Who Fell To Earth (Bantam).

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