editorial image

Warning: I am about to tackle a taboo subject.

Let me set the scene for you. I am shuffling uncomfortably with embarrassment in the library as the man behind the counter searches for my requested item.

A woman experiencing a hot flush

A woman experiencing a hot flush

When I ordered it online I hadn’t banked on feeling like this whilst being served by a young, attractive male. It’s not like I’d ordered Bondage for Beginners, it was simply a book about the menopause. And there it was!

He held it up. I glanced at the front cover which bore the image of a middle-aged woman looking attractive and happy but taken through a lens which appeared to have been smeared with Vaseline. It was as though her vibrancy and attractiveness were becoming a thing of the past, as the essence she knew as herself began to disappear into the mist. Or perhaps that was just me reading too much into the image!

As Mr Librarian faffed about beeping the book with his scanner a hot flush began at my chest, travelled up my neck and over my face with Lewis Hamilton speed.

My face turned puce and my upper lip glowed with perspiration.

I made a quick mental note to never, ever wear 100 per cent nylon trousers again. Not only is it a major fashion faux pas, but in my almost permanently boiling state it was practically life threatening (not to mention highly flammable!) I needed breathable fabrics, I mused.

‘‘There you go!’’ he said smiling and passing me the book.

‘‘Enjoy!’’ he added. Enjoy? I shouted in my head, how was I supposed to enjoy reading about the terrors that awaited me?

‘‘Thanks’’ I smiled back, resisting the urge to smack him and schlepped off with my tome, wishing I hadn’t bothered ordering it at all as frankly, I’m too scared to read it! I’m not even in menopause yet, I’m in perimenopause, the preamble to the ‘Big M’.

When I returned home from the library, I passed the mirror with the stranger in it (I swear I don’t know that middle-aged woman who resides there, she looks nothing like me!) and was rather alarmed to see I’d morphed into Rudolph. There on the very end of my nose was a huge angry red spot. It fact it was positively incandescent, it practically flashed! This is another side effect of perimenopausal hormonal hell. As if hot flushes, aches, dry eyes, inexplicable belly fat, (hence the nylon trews) fatigue and weepiness isn’t enough, women can also suffer skin break-outs. Why did no one warn me about this menopause malarkey?

If I had have been told that when I reached my late forties everything would go pear-shaped (literally!) I might have tried to prepare myself a little better by going into training for it. Apparently exercise and a healthy diet can really help!

At my all-girl school, a lesson on the menopause might have been more beneficial than being taught to clap with two fingers on the palm of your opposite hand to make less noise (I kid you not!).

We should be warned to enjoy and cherish our womanly wiles whilst they are in pristine condition.

Another little-known fact about the Big M is the cloak of invisibility leant especially by Harry Potter. This ensures you become invisible to the opposite sex and general public. Ok, so I’m bitter and twisted about what Mother Nature is doing to me. The truth is, according to studies, 80 per cent of women sail through the menopause with little problem whilst probably looking fabulous.

I can only speak from my own experience, which so far, is hideous! Regarding flushes, one piece of advice I read is to keep a cold chamois leather in the fridge to cool your face when you’re having a flush and this won’t disturb your face make-up too much.

The term menopause is derived from the Greek word ‘Menos’ meaning month and ‘pausos’ meaning ending. That’s just a menopausal fun fact for you, (there aren’t many!) I appear to be coming to the boil again as I write, so I’m off for a quick rub down with a cold chamois.

Then I plan a trip to the chemist for some spot cream to apply to my flashing red schnauzer. I won’t worry too much about my appearance, as my menopausal cloak of invisibility will ensure I’m unseen as I toddle off, gently sparking in my nylon trousers whilst inexplicably singing; ‘don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?’ in my head.

Here ends my personal snapshot into this taboo subject, hopefully you won’t identify with any of it.