Goodbye to my beloved fertility
Is it just me or does everyone need to talk about something delicate?
I am staring down the barrel of 49. About three weeks ago I woke up in the night feeling very hot.
It was the early hours of Sunday morning and I had drunk wine the evening before. Friends have told me red wine sometimes makes them a bit hot in the night and the next morning John agreed it had been a bit toasty.
Next night, no wine, same thing. I actually took the doona off our bed and replaced it with a thin blanket.
But then it started happening in the day time too. A lot.
Out of nowhere I am hit by a wave of heat, mainly in my arms chest and face, followed by light heart palpitations and then chills. Sometimes at half hourly intervals.
Because I am generally the oldest person in the room (damn you radio life) I stoically resist the urge to fan my face and say ‘Is anyone hot in here?’ because I know they’re not. It’s just me. Little. Old. Me.
Hot flushes came as a surprise to me. Of course I have heard about them, I just didn’t know when they turned up. I think I assumed they only happened after a woman stopped getting her period.
I have friends older than me so I suspect I know lots of people getting a little hot under the collar we just never really talk about it.
Around 50% of peri-menopausal women and 75% of menopausal women suffer hot flushes but the root cause is not clear.
What is known is that the part of the brain that controls body temperature is the hypothalamus. During menopause, oestrogen levels fall. Scientists think that this fall in oestrogen causes a glitch in the way the hypothalamus senses body temperature, making it think that we are too hot. So I’m not too hot, my brain just thinks I am.
Strangely, I don’t mind a hot flush. It’s winter and a rush of heat to the head isn’t terrible. I keep saying to John, ‘Touch my face, touch my face! Am I hot?’ I never am of course but I just can’t get my head around the fact I feel so hot when I’m not. Apparently this could go on for five to fifteen years (John is really looking forward to it).
I accept it is goodbye to my beloved fertility and that no-one really wants to hear about my mood swings or sweaty bed hair, which is why, I suppose, menopause remains a slightly embarrassing secret.
But I’m not as sad as I thought I would be. Life is a rollercoaster baby, this is just a new phase and all the money I save on tampons and jumpers I can spend on good face cream and better booze. I’ve earned it.