Technically, you are officially menopausal one year after your last period (if you are over 50). So it doesn’t arrive with a fanfare, or the blast of heat that announces the arrival of the perimenopause, just a bit of a whimper really. Back in March I wrote about the perimenopause (what it is and what to expect) so what can you expect after that?
If the perimenopause brings a whole host of symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, reduced libido, vaginal dryness, memory problems and low moods what does the full blown menopause bring? Well, you will probably continue to suffer from the symptoms listed above but there are a whole array of others that start to creep into your life:
Diminishing eye sight
OK, so is isn’t really a symptom of either the perimenopause or the menopause but it is still one of those stages. If you have always worn glasses or contact lenses then this isn’t such a biggie but if you have always had 20:20 vision then this is a big hurdle. Most people will find it gets harder to see objects at close distance from some time in their 40’s and you know you are in trouble when your arm isn’t long enough any more. It starts off gradually but then you find yourself needing stronger and stronger glasses until you get to the point where even your dinner looks clearer through reading glasses. Going shopping is a nightmare because you just can’t see the list of ingredients or the price on the tag (although you might be able to use this in your defence when you get home).
Loss of skin tone
At times it can seem as if the skin on your face is melting and slowly dripping off. It becomes a lot looser all over and starts heading south and where it used to be springy and bouncy it now goes into pleats. I have had the odd person commenting that it looks as if I have lost weight, but sadly it isn’t the case. It is just my skeleton becoming more visible as the plump cushioning around it droops a little.
It’s not something you notice overnight but one day you will be standing in a certain light or you will see yourself from a particular angle and realise that your neck has gone a bit goose-like or the skin on your upper arms seems too big. Welcome to the bingo wings.
You bruise more easily
I never used to bruise but in the last few years I have found that when I crash into furniture it leaves a massive bruise that takes ages to disappear. I even have bruises I just cannot account for so I am putting this down to menopausal memory problems. This is caused, apparently, by the blood vessel walls becoming thinner. So either wear padded clothing at all times or become very aware of your surroundings.
Jokes abound about older ladies looking like wrinkled prunes but it is a sad reality. You will find yourself researching all sorts of beauty products and becoming very familiar with the benefits of retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid whereas a simple moisturiser used to suffice before. Can you believe that in my 20s I never even wore moisturiser? Getting ready for bed in the evening takes so much longer as you slap on serums followed by layers of cream. And that is just your face. The skin on the rest of your body suddenly develops a real thirst so get used to slathering yourself in body lotion from head to foot or face up to your skin growing scales.
It’s a sad fact of life that your metabolism slows as you get older and your waist thickens. Time to start investing in some bodycon dresses ladies. But I really can recommend having a good look at your diet and exercise regime as I just don’t believe that you have to start taking things easy as you get older. If you have always taken a fair bit of exercise, whether that is taking long hikes in the countryside or pumping iron at the gym, then there is no reason to think you can’t carry on doing that. And it certainly helps with keeping your waist trim for longer and keeps your metabolic rate up, not to mention keeping your bones stronger. I don’t know about you but I like to be strong.
Hair loss (and hair gain)
It’s true. The hair on your head starts to thin and your eyebrows get weedier. God help you if you over-plucked them in your youth – you will be paying for it now. But even if you have always nurtured the Brooke Shields look you will still find them thinning out. Even the hair on your arms and legs thins and I am not even going to go into what happens to your, er, lady garden. But look on the bright side. You will save a fortune in waxing.
Quite bizarrely though, as your hair and eyebrows start to thin you start to sprout hairs on your chin. Why? It’s madness. You can choose to continue to see yourself in the peachy haze of diminished eyesight where your skin and make-up always look pretty good or you can invest in a magnifying mirror to get to grips with the true horror of unfolding events. I know it might sound better to live in blissful ignorance at the extent of it all, but I will just put two words out there: “Barbara Cartland”. Really want to go out looking like that?
Hair, skin and nails
Your hair, skin and nails might lose their lustre and you can end up experiencing all sorts of issues that you have never experienced before. I used to have curly hair but now it is lost all its curl (but none of its frizz) and is a bit limp and listless. I’m still working my way through volume and body enhancing products and will report back at a later date. I have also noticed my nails are breaking all the time – but for this one I have a remedy. Go check out the range of nail proteins made by Nailtiques. A game-changer for nails, trust me. My skin is fine, thank you very much. In fact, due to my sugar-free diet, it is better than it has ever been so you might want to have a good look at your diet. Sorry.
So there you have it. You are now armed with a few facts that your doctor might not fill you in on but your best friend certainly will. On the bright side, women post menopause don’t have to worry about contraception any more not to mention period pains and all that palaver and many women report they feel a lot happier and stronger. You go girl!