Here is an undeniable fact. I've aged over the past few years.
I have more obvious gray hair, have to lug around an uncomfortable array of different glasses, and I've definitely garnered an unfortunate softness around my cheeks. Oh … and I was going through menopause.
Now take this last point with you as I normally wouldn't mention the M word.
I don't find it interesting in any way (not that the other signs of aging are particularly exciting), but I recently started realizing that I'm traveling alone on this one.
Judging by the frequency with which the subject is brought up now – Emma Freud was the last last week – it seems that many women find menopause absolutely fascinating. That's why I brought it up.
I don't find it interesting in any way (not that the other signs of aging are particularly exciting), but recently I've noticed that I'm traveling alone, writes Alexandra Shulman (picture)
This is a big change in attitude and one that confuses me.
For most of the women I know and with whom I have shared the changes in our lives, menopause was just something we went through, just like periods. We have accepted these as part of our existence, as women have throughout history.
I don't really know how they felt about it as we didn't discuss it much.
Our partners, our homes, our children, our work that we talked about endlessly – but the menopause? No.
Not because we were embarrassed, but because it wasn't a topic that we found entertaining or particularly helpful.
I imagine that for her, like me, it wasn't the funnest thing to go through. Every now and then during a meeting someone can fan themselves with an ironic grin at work.
If we feel bad for a week, we may mumble about "hormones." We had all changed sleep patterns.
If someone was feeling really lazy, they would address it the same way they would address migraines or painful joints.
I (and I'm telling you this to keep in touch with exchange times) have woken up frequently at 2 a.m. for a number of years and felt like someone had lit a fire around my back.
Meg Mathews (pictured), once a rough Brit Pop woman who was married to Noel Gallagher, has published The New Hot: Approaching Menopause with Attitude and Style
I knew it was a side effect of menopause, but as someone who would rather go without medication at first, I didn't turn to HRT right away.
And when I did that, the problem helped, if not completely resolved.
Occasionally someone would mention they were considering bioidentical HRT, or another would say they were concerned about the cancer link, but in general this conversation was less common than whether butter is better than olive oil for frying potatoes.
We drove this time of our lives; Many of us still use it.
At no point did I feel that these physical changes were defining me or causing some sort of seismic change in my being.
Did i miss a trick? In the past few months alone, Sam Baker, former editor of Red Magazine, The Shift – now also a podcast – sold life after menopause as the freedom to be a new you.
Meg Mathews, once a rough Brit Pop woman who was married to Noel Gallagher, released The New Hot: Approaching Menopause with Attitude and Style.
Baroness Warsi and Nadine Dorries share their experiences with temporary forgetfulness and bad humor in Kaye Adams and Vicky Allan's Still Hot! 42 Brilliantly honest menopause.
Menopause is the stage in life when women's estrogen and progesterone production decreases and all of these affect our bodies. Together with other factors, it marks the phase in which we can no longer imagine.
I asked my gynecologist the other day how long menopause lasts and she said, “How long is a piece of string? Only you will know when it ends based on how you feel. & # 39;
I have undoubtedly been fortunate to have no debilitating symptoms and certainly there are women who have a really terrible time, especially those who are pushed into it prematurely by illness or some other factor.
It's not shameful, and thankfully, it's no longer referred to as The Change, indicating some terrible and unspecific witchcraft that happens to women.
But it's not that fascinating either.
To be honest, I find it confusing why more and more women want to define themselves through this experience. How many men define themselves by the fact that their erections in their mid-50s are unlikely to be what they used to be?
In the past few months alone, Sam Baker, former editor-in-chief of Red Magazine, The Shift – now a podcast too – has been selling life after menopause as the freedom to be a new you
How often do we read articles in which men are willing to sink into a swamp of self-pity for starting to lose their hair?
However, not only do some women seem curious that some gynecological fact is dominating their feelings about themselves, but they falsely encourage them to be the prism through which others look at them, too.
When I get vague and forgetful in public, the last thing I want the reaction to be, "Oh, let her loose a little – she's going through menopause."
Actually, I just put it down to being vague and forgetful, which I used to be, regardless of my age.
Why is menopause such a central part of our perception of ourselves and that of others?
I know Michelle Obama mentioned on a podcast that she had a hot flash at Marine One, the White House helicopter, and that's fine.
Actually more than good. It's funny – the juxtaposition of something so very ordinary that happens to all of us in such an extraordinary situation.
She is right to believe that menopause shouldn't be the state that dares not pronounce its name.
It doesn't have to be central to every conversation with a woman over 50.
There is currently an outcry over the fact that women over the age of 50 are being let go of major roles.
However, I'm not sure we, as older women, are doing our best service by painting a picture of a population that is constantly inundated with brain fog and irrational bad moods.
Or by making fun of our invisibility – just another little older lady sitting in the corner of the restaurant and not some luscious baby that every waiter rushes to.
No doubt, with all your confidence wrapped up in your looks – if you were one of those magically beautiful women who could silence a room (and how many of them are there?) – you could feel the reaction to your presence with age is not quite the same caliber.
But for most of us we hardly see any difference when we are relatively comfortable as we age.
Baroness Warsi and Nadine Dorries share their experiences with temporary forgetfulness and bad humor in Kaye Adams and Vicky Allan's Still Hot! 42 Brilliantly honest menopause
Perhaps, instead of focusing on the problems of getting older, we should focus more on the success of our contemporaries in so many areas.
Probably in menopause and a rich and varied life early in her career.
Fashion designers like the Duchess of Cambridge's favorite Sarah Burton, and Dior's creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri; Business leaders such as Dame Sharon White of John Lewis; Directors of creative institutions such as Maria Balshaw of Tate and Jude Kelly of Southbank; and artists like Tracey Emin and Rachel Whiteread.
We should shout about their accomplishments and belittle the idea of older women as victims of society.
We should celebrate the advantages of our age – adult children, grandchildren, freedom to travel, time to read and study, and, for those of us who have given up a relentless day job, the joy of creating one more life on our own schedule.
These pluses are not related to hormonal changes.
Of course, I'm not saying that the playing field is the same between the sexes. There are still more men with gray tips than women.
And I don't deny that menopause is uncomfortable, sometimes chaotic and sometimes uncomfortable.
But at the end of the day, as a 62-year-old woman, I feel as alive and interested as ever, with the same shaky days and moments of self-doubt as any age.
However, menopause has absolutely nothing to do with it.
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