Hot flushes and broken nights

Menopause is a great leveler. Whatever you do, whatever the colour of your skin and your religion, whether or not you are famous, wealthy or poor, as a woman you will go through the menopause.

In fact I found the biggest impact was when I entered the perimenopause, which generally happens in your late 40’s. It is defined as the 6-10 years before you become menopausal – which is itself defined as when you have not had a period for 12 months. It is the time of hot sweats and brainless moments when you suddenly can’t remember what the hell you were intending to do before you got distracted. Add in emotional ups and downs, and sweaty nights and you get the picture. I think I have had more moments of unexplained and irrational depression, and broken nights sleep in the last 4 years than in the previous 50!

The average age of the menopause is 51, so the peri menopause can start in your late 30’s/early 40’s. If its any consolation my experience is that the perimenopause does not last up to 10 years, thank god. Looking back I would say I was perimenopausal for 4 years. The worst bit was the sweats. At their peak, out of nowhere I would get an enormous heat surge rising up my torso, followed by sweat breaking out on my chest, back of neck and forehead. There seemed to be no pattern and no regular time of day. In fact even now, thinking of them I feel really hot – so is there a psychosomatic element? The only time when I didn’t get them was when I was really busy and occupied.

It can be mortifying to suddenly have sweat trickling down your cleavage, and you do find you alter your wardrobe – avoiding all colours and materials that will show damp patches. And why do we have to get so many hot sweats at night? I used to be such a solid sleeper and then suddenly I was tossing and turning – duvet on, duvet off all through the night. Why does no one warn you what is likely to happen?

I have not tried HRT as it has been linked to higher risks of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and breast cancer. Others I know swear by it, but I must say that HRT users are in the minority nowadays. Instead we are all trying black cohosh, soya, and organic creams. Developments in HRT have eradicated many of the side effects and do indeed bring benefits, so maybe it is worth doing some internet research and talking to your doctor.

Whatever you decide to do, remember you are not alone. Get those layers out so you can strip off a few when you feel hot, buy a fan and a spritzer for quick facial cool downs, and revel in the upside – no more periods!


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