What is your age and stage?
I’m 59 and post menopausal. I was 52-ish when my symptoms started.
What were your symptoms?
I never thought I’d have ANY symptoms. Indeed, I never thought I’d get the menopause, just like I think I’m never going to die. So I was shocked by hot flushes and sleeplessness. Now that I’m on HRT, I don’t get any of them any more.
What was the most challenging thing to deal with?
I’m over it now, but the weight gain and the sleeplessness, I guess.
Were there any positive symptoms?
It marked a stage: Now I am no longer fertile, I have to offer something else.
What are the things that got you through it?
HRT (a mixture of oestrogen and progesterone), exercise and a freezing shower every morning.
What made the biggest difference?
HRT and stopping drinking.
It absolutely is a time to redefine yourself away from the shackles of fertility and being perceived in sexual terms.
Did you seek any advice from experts, family or friends?
I never knew that my mother or my sister went through it so badly because they never talked about it. I have to say, mine was not that bad. I also have to say that I think drinking exacerbates symptoms. Had I not drunk, I might have been one of those women who slept through it.
What was the best advice you received?
To take HRT, even though I’d had breast cancer in 2007. And actually, that alcohol is miles worse for breast cancer than HRT.
Is there anything you wish you’d known?
That alcohol had that much effect!
What was the impact on your daily life?
The sleeplessness and restless leg syndrome were horrid. Also, perimenopause can induce horniness – one really will mount the postman! Also, roman candle-like periods just before you stop completely.
Is there anything you’d do differently?
Do I sound like a broken record? STOP DRINKING!
What do you say to other women about menopause?
Look at Gwyneth Paltrow, she’ll do it sexily. Actually, she already is.
What are your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?
It absolutely is a time to redefine yourself away from the shackles of fertility and being perceived in sexual terms. That sounds reductive, but, it’s like, you are forced to do something different. Also, remember, biologically, there is a purpose to us living beyond our fertility. If there weren’t women around to help other women raise their kids, the species would have probably died out.
Your menopause was…
When I finally became a grown up.
You feel MPowered when…
Women tell me they were helped by my book.
Christa D’Souza is the author of The Hot Topic: A Life-Changing Look at the Change of Life, £8.99, amazon.com. Photo Dan Kennedy.