How old were you when menopause kicked in?
I’m 52 now (53 in December this year) and I realised it had been two years since my last period last summer, when I was 51.
What were your symptoms?
I didn’t have any symptoms, much to my surprise. Maybe increased forgetfulness? I am quite forgetful, though I don’t know if the menopause has anything to do with it. I think it’s more likely to be the fault of screen time and never concentrating on anything properly for any length of time.
Have you faced any challenges?
What I do absolutely have is that sort of thickened middle. It is impossible to shift, or perhaps I’m not trying hard enough (quite likely, to be honest). It’s a pain in terms of clothing – you start understanding why some women go down the smocked dress/waterfall cardigan route. It’s a surprising thing to have always dressed confidently, and to have to re-examine that quite so late in life. Also: thinner hair, requiring more attention and a better cut.
Get proper underwear that fits. Now is not the time for your comfiest, oldest bra.
What are the things that have got your through it?
Expensive shampoo, a decent serum, daily sunscreen. I would also say that if you stop colouring your hair, you need to revisit your entire makeup look.
What made the biggest difference?
Proper underwear that fits. Now is not the time for your comfiest, oldest bra.
The menopause, or perhaps just age, has given me the gift of not giving a fuck. It is incredibly liberating.
Were there any positive symptoms?
The menopause, or perhaps just age, has given me the gift of not giving a fuck. It is incredibly liberating. I don’t do anything I don’t want to do, I don’t make convoluted excuses to get out of things, I don’t tiptoe around anything anything any more. I say no to stuff all the time without feeling I have to apologise 25 times first. It’s amazing. I love it. I’ve also completely stopped wearing heels, which has changed my life for the better in a dramatic way.
The best advice you received?
What you wish you’d known?
That it wouldn’t be this great and awful drama. I was fully braced for feeling mad and unwell for several years. In the event, I genuinely didn’t notice my menopause happening. I do wish people would explain that it doesn’t have to be this great, earth-shattering catastrophe.
The impact on your relationships?
None. My partner might say I’m stroppier, but see answer above re not tiptoeing around things.
What you’d do differently?
This doesn’t apply to greedy fatso me, but I would urge young women to eat properly and not faddishly, and not exclude vast amounts of foods. I have several friends who are developing osteoporosis. Eat calcium.
What you say to other women?
It’s going to be fine.
Your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?
I love it. I feel all wise and strong and chilled. And capable. I genuinely feel I’m in my prime.
Your menopause was…
No big deal.
India Knight is a columnist at The Sunday Times and the author of In Your Prime (Penguin Fig Tree). Her new novel Darling is published next year.