Empty Wombs: Menopause and Infertility

I was struggling to think of a snappy title for a post about loss of fertility and the menopause. Then I heard Gary Moore’s ‘Empty Rooms’ on the radio…

For most women, the menopause happens around the age of 51 but I wasn’t even 40 when my gynae consultant informed me that my eggs had flogged themselves into early retirement. The technical term he used was ‘ovarian failure’.

I was only 39. It didn’t seem fair?

I phoned my mum.

‘I’m f**king menopausal, Mother!’ I howled.

She heard me out, then said, ‘Oh my darling girl, I’m sorry to hear this but I was the same age when I started mine, you know.’

I’ve blamed her ever since.

The reality hit me a few weeks later..

I could no longer make a baby.

I broke down and sobbed. LOUDLY.

No, I mean REALLY LOUDLY. My pet rats, Thelma and Louise, were that perturbed they did a load of poo then hid in their toilet roll inner-tubes.

Biologically, I have done what I was put on this earth to do. I’ve reproduced. Not once, but three times. Given that some women are unable to have a biological child, I am fully aware of how lucky I am.

Some women are only too happy to reach the end of their baby-making days. For them, there is a great sense of relief that they are able to give their bodies a well earned rest. For others, it’s a loss and as with any other meaningful loss there is grief.

I understand that women who have never been able to have their own children might read this post and feel pissed that somebody has the audacity to moan about not being able to have any more children when they already have three. My heart goes out to those women but I can only tell my own story..

I didn’t expect to feel this way.

Most likely, I wouldn’t have chosen to have another child. I was a month off being 39 when I had The Boy and my body didn’t know what had hit it. However, the choice was taken away from me and I think that’s where part of the problem lay. I no longer felt in control of my body. In fact, I’ve not felt in control of my body since but they say that it can take up to ten years for things to settle down after the menopause.

TEN MOTHERFUNGLING YEARS!

Some women choose to have a career first and children later, which is fine. Many women are having their first child in their 40s nowadays. However, if I’d have left it until I was 40, it would have been too late for me to have child with my second husband. As it turns out, my early menopause seems to be genetic and I would advise women who want to have children later rather than earlier, to take note of their mother’s menopause because history has a way of repeating itself..

Sometimes I dream of being pregnant. I see my tummy growing bigger and there is the feeling of euphoria (similar to when I see deceased relatives in my dreams) but as the dream unfolds my tummy grows smaller. Or I have a scan only to be told that there is nothing there. It’s like I’m having a phantom pregnancy in my sleep but it’s just my subconscious reminding me that I can’t have anymore babies – the bastard.

You know what?

It’s OK to feel sad that your baby-making days are over. It’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to secretly hate the sight of pert-breasted young women pushing prams because they exude youthfulness and you feel like shit.

Here’s the thing. The menopause will come for them too. Their bottoms will sag. Their nipples will head south and their ovaries will throw in the towel.

It comes TO US ALL.

That said, try and remember how wonderful it felt to be a new mother. It would be wrong to deny them the same happiness that you experienced, eh?

Try to see this time of life as a positive thing. Yes, it effing sucks. BUT. There are positives.

We no longer have to worry about unplanned pregnancies. Although, it is possible to get pregnant when you are going through the change, so don’t be throwing your contraception in the air just yet. Normally, a woman is told to take precautions for twelve months after her last period – two years if your menopause is early. So if you’ve spent the last 20 years rearing your brood and dreaming of retiring to Spain once the last one has bogged off then I would make sure you keep taking the pills, no?

Regards the mood swings ‘n’ stuff..

After the menopause has passed you will no longer have the urge to stab your husbands/partners face because your hormones will eventually settle down. Hence, the chances of you being done for manslaughter decrease. Who wants to spend their autumn years Pleasuring Her Majesty? Or is it, Her Majesty’s Pleasure?

Confusion. Another perk of the menopause.

I know how it feels to wake up at 2am DRENCHED in sweat due to a hot flush. You toss and turn for a few hours then give up and lie there listening to your other half snoring his head off. For a few seconds, you ponder ending his life. Why? Because you are suffering and he’s not. It pisses you RIGHT off that he is still able to make a baby while your ‘bits’ are decomposing. You worry that he might leave you for someone younger and fertile. But take heart, dear, because shit happens to men too. Their penises shrink and they can develop, er, performance problems. What can I say? Age can be a cruel mistress to both sexes.

There comes a time when the grief passes and you accept what is. Think of your womb as the cocoon which held your little butterflies in the making?

Second thoughts. Scrap that. It sounds wanky.

The key to surviving the menopause is to find the positives in it. Stick a Victoria Wood DVD on and have a damn good laugh about it. Really wibble yer bits. Yes, your reproductive system is now defunct but it’s earned it’s retirement, wouldn’t you say? Hopefully you are in a comfortable place financially and can spend more time doing the things you want to do. I’m not there yet because I had my youngest child at 39, not that I would change a thing. If anything, it gives me the incentive to keep myself as healthy as is possible because my job isn’t done yet. But for those of you whose kids have left home – this time is yours – so enjoy it.

Viva La Menopause!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viva La Menopause: Hair and Make-Up

There comes a day in your life when you’re standing in a mirrored-changing room and you look at yourself and think, ‘Effing hell! I look like an ageing glam-rocker!’

It’s a defining moment in your history.

We can’t stop ourselves from ageing but wearing the wrong make-up (or too much of it) can make us look older than our years. Teenage girls literally wear their own body weight in make-up to look older, right? So it’s logical that when we get older – the opposite applies. We need LESS make-up to look younger.

Here are my tips for looking magnificent after the menopause.

Hair

After the menopause most women suffer some level of hair loss. Why? Because Mother Nature is a cow.

Technically it’s to do with lack of oestrogen. You’ll find yourself de-clogging the plug-hole everytime you wash your hair. However, there are things you can do like limiting the use of hair straighteners etc and using hair-thickening shampoos. This is where ‘back-combing’ becomes a necessity rather than a fad. Do you know why little old ladies have their hair back-combed? It’s to make what little hair they have left go further. Of course, you could always do a Dolly Parton and slap a wig on?

When it comes to colouring hair- darker colours can be ageing and accentuate thinning hair. You also have to disciplined when it comes to touching your roots up or you end up looking like a badger. I’m currently a rather fetching Dot Cotton shade of red. Like Autumn, it’s my final fling with colour before I succumb to the monochrome. Once I hit 50, I intend to strip my hair of dye and have it cut short and a bit spiky. If it’s a really crap shade of grey, I will have it highlighted. Either way, I aim to be flippin’ funky at fifty!

Make-Up

There is a specific order to putting on make-up. However, I am a lot like the Morecambe and Wise sketch where Eric is playing ‘all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order’. As long as I manage to get my foundation on first, I consider myself to be WINNING!

So, once we’ve faffed about with cleansers and anti-ageing creams, we can begin. *cracks fingers*

Foundation

Use the BEST foundation you can afford. You want one that STAYS on. I use Estee Lauder’s Double Wear which retails at around £30. It’s expensive and I have to flog a bodily organ every four months to afford it but it makes me look semi-alive and it stays on until I jet-blast it off the next morning last thing at night. This is the Chuck Norris of foundations.

Concealer

Bags under your eyes? You’ll need concealer. I use Touche Éclat by YSL which retails for around £25. It isn’t the cheapest but it is the only concealer that works on my dark circles. I have dark circles because insomnia goes hand in hand with the menopause and this little treasure gives the illusion of me having my full quota of kip. If you can’t bag a night’s sleep, blag a nights sleep.

Blusher

Once the hormones go feral it’s best to opt for cream blusher and BLEND that sucker in well or you’ll look a proper div, yeah?

Eyebrows

If you’re anything like me – thirty odd years of plucking the living shit out of your eyebrows has left them sparser than a Christmas tree in January. You can go and get some tattooed on if you like but be warned that it could leave you looking a 42 caret plonker if it goes wrong. Just add a few ‘hairs’ with an eyebrow pencil or eye-shadow. No, not Azure Blue! I mean one that matches your eyebrow hair – what’s left of it.

Eye-Shadow

Glitter is fabulous but glittery eye-shadow should ONLY be worn by teenage girls under the influence of Lambrusco. Glittery or frosted eye-shadow accentuates every crease. After a few hours, your eye-shadow settles into your eye-crevices and it looks nasty. You might as well have a neon sign over your head which says, ‘WELL PAST IT’. Opt for matt or cream shadows and leave the neon shades to the kids, eh?

I should mention brow bones here. You know? The area where you used to put your highlighter? Basically there is this ‘landslide’ thingy that happens with the skin on the brow bones as we age. That once defined line between brow-bone and eyelid becomes confined to the photograph album. I think there are exercises you can do to tone things up but I say SOD THAT for a game of conkers!

Eye-Liner

It’s the 1980s on the phone for you, dear. IT WANTS IT’S EYELINER BACK!

Confession time. I wore Electric Blue eyeliner until I was in my 40s. I have GREEN eyes!!! Awks!!

Mascara

Mascara is my number one favourite item of make-up. I would stab ANYBODY who tries to come between me and my magic wand. Thing is, I know my eyes are my best feature. Like me, they’re odd. One is green and the other is a mixture of green and brown. It’s very me. Mascara brings them to life and even if I was in the throes of a massive heart attack, I would still attempt to get a few strokes in..

No. YOU have a filthy mind!

My tip is to buy a decent mascara and use three coats. Then once a week, use a shit brand while you are doing the housework. Those three coats will weigh an absolute TON – the advantage being that it gives your ageing eyelids a much needed workout. Just as if your eyelids are pumping weights, innit?!

Lipstick

As we age, our lips become thinner. They can become wrinkled and lines may develop around our mouths. The boundary between lips and skin are less defined so lipstick ‘bleeds’ and if you’re a fan of red lippy you can end up looking like Robert Smith from The Cure if you’re not careful. However, there are things you can do though such as avoiding glossy or creamy lipsticks. Or how about ditching the lippy altogether and settling for a nice lip-balm? If you want to be really cheap – slap on some of that Vaseline that’s been festering in the back of your bathroom cabinet since 1988.

That’s it for this time, folks. VIVA LA MENOPAUSE!

Good morning, madam. May I interest you in our skin-care range? We do sell this astringent – I don’t know if it’s strong enough for what you need, but it brought my chip pan up lovely. ~ Victoria Wood ~ As Seen On TV.

Robert Smith Image Via Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

Beauty and the Menopause

I’m menopausal. Have I ever mentioned that? Think I might have done. I’m 47 but my biological age puts me somewhere in my mid-fifties. This is because Mother Nature can be a flipping cow when the mood takes her. Or maybe it’s to do with genetics? The bottom line is that the menopause changes you.

That’s why it’s called ‘THE CHANGE’.

The menopause is all about maintenance of the body AND brain. Or you can just say, ‘f**k it’ and let yourself go. That’s not an option for me because my mother and grandmother took pride in their appearance and they would haunt the crap out of me if I let myself go. Even when I was in the middle of a breakdown, I went through my routine. I just used a lot more dry shampoo because washing my hair triggered panic attacks but that’s for another blog post..

When it comes to hanging onto our bits and pieces, like hair, skin, nails and teeth, we need to work a LOT harder. We need to be aware of the changes in our body and work with them. Alas, some women are not prepared to put the work in after the menopause.

They allow their leg hair to go feral.

They neglect their toenails.

They allow their teeth to fall out.

They give up on themselves.

This does NOT have to be you.

Here are a few tips to help you stick the V’s up to looking old because if you look old, you will feel old. So grab your reading specs and get comfy.

Bathing

Once upon a time, we were able to soak in the bath for HOURS. Nowadays, we get twenty minutes max before we turn prune. No time for reading or daydreaming about Sean Bean. It’s ALL about BODY-CARE.

Menopausal skin is dry skin. There are numerous reasons for this, like lack of oestrogen, genetics, sun-exposure, alcohol and smoking. At this stage of the game you need to be moisturising the LIVING SHIT out of your skin. If you don’t, you’ll end up looking like Keith Richards, and if that’s not enough to have you sprinting to the skincare section of your nearest Superdrug, I don’t know what is..

Are you still using soap? As in, a normal bar of soap?

If so.

That tight feeling you get after using soap is because it’s removed the natural oils from your skin. If you must use soap, at least use a sensitive one with a low pH. Giving yourself a ‘lick’ with an ancient bar of Imperial Leather isn’t on. Throw it away!

When choosing bath or shower products, you need to look for moisturising ones. Glittery bath bombs? What are you, six years old? I use Sanex because it’s the only brand that doesn’t make me itch myself delirious. It’s also a good idea to ensure that you have a decent bath mat or you’ll be up the A & E with a fracture having face-planted your taps reaching for the loofar.

Oh and don’t forget to exfoliate that dead skin off!

Shaving

Obviously, I mean legs and lady bits although you may also be sporting a teensie weensie moustache by now. What can I say? Men get rogue nostril/ear hair. Women get muzzies.

A problem with ageing is that we may not as supple as we used to be. There are exceptions but mostly we start creaking like old floorboards with about as much flexibility. When it comes to de-fuzzing our legs, we can’t reach around the back as well as we could, so we end up with 6″ hairs which are a bit of a turn off. The days of girlie Bic razors (pastel shades) are gone. You are now in the Black and Decker power range and hardcore action is required to tackle your unsightly, er, premises. However, if you prefer the wild and natural look, you can save yourself time and money.

Nails

I’m autistic and struggle with eye contact so I look at the floor a lot which means I get to see people’s feet and believe me, I have seen some HIDEOUSLY BAD FEET in my time. I’m talking CLAWS, rather than nails. There are certain health conditions which cause problems of the foot but unless you are unfortunate enough to have such a problem, there is no excuse for sinisterly bad nails. If you really can’t be arsed to sort your nails out (or pay somebody to do it for you) then do us all favour and shove a sock over them.

A word about nail polish..

Is my general advice to steer clear of blues, greens and purples if you have varicose veins..

Make-up

Less is More.

When it comes to make-up and ageing, I often think of dear old Barbara Cartland. She was an amazing lady but wouldn’t you have thought that those closest to her would have advised her to lay off the electric blue eyeshadow at her age? In certain photographs she looks positively sinister! Thing is, wear the same make-up that you’ve worn for decades if you like but it will AGE you. If you find that people are stopping you in the street and booking you for children’s parties, it’s time to tone it down a few notches.

IT’S NOT THE 1980s ANYMORE, DEARS!

Look at it this way, teenagers use make up to make themselves look older. When you are older, the opposite applies. You need to wear LESS make-up to look younger.

Teeth

Now is the time that you REALLY need to start paying attention to your teeth.

As we age our teeth become worn and discoloured. Medication plays havoc with our oral health and we suffer bone and muscle loss. If we don’t take care of our teeth, we end up looking like Albert Steptoe. Sounds grim but there is much we can do to keep tooth loss at bay. For a start, brushing twice daily is a MUST. Flossing is a MUST. As we get older, gaps appear and food gets lodged in those crevices which brushing alone won’t remove. Blimey. I sound like an advert for toothpaste. But it’s true. How do you feel about last weeks bacon sarnie rotting away in your mouth? Barfarama, eh?

Thanks to receding gums, you will find that you have more enamel on show than you used to. This is something that I have noticed about myself to the point where I wonder if I should be running in the 2.30 at Goodward? Nothing you can do about this except to keep your gynormous teeth dazzlingly white. You could always offer your services as a mobile side-screen at your local cricket club. How about a Bee Gees tribute act? The possibilities are there, if only you choose to look.

There is a very serious side to gum health though…

How many of you know that gum disease can lead to heart disease, strokes and diabetes? Our hearts no longer have the protection of oestrogen so we need to look after ourselves more then ever, yes?

That’s all for today dears. Keep smiling, eh?

Creative Common Images Via Pixabay

 

 

Dedicated Non-Follower of Fashion

I don’t do fashion, me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments over the years where I’ve tried to be fashionable in order to fit in, but it was hard work because all I ever really wanted to wear were my jeans and tee shirts. In my most creative phase I wore black lace skirts, gloves, vest tops, studded belts/cuffs and high-heeled boots, which I couldn’t walk in. What can I say? I was into Siousxie Sioux and her glorious gothness. I wanted to look like her, only with Madonna’s hairdo.

Over the years I must have spent hundreds of pounds on clothes (albeit via charity shops) only for them to sit unloved in the nether regions of my wardrobe. I’ve bought so many clothes on a whim during my monthly hormonal malfunctions. I CRINGE thinking back to some of the disasters I’ve bought, such as floor length green and pink striped WOOLEN skirts, which is fine if you want to look like a. sodding. caterpillar.

I think that women should stay the HELL away from clothes shops when they are on their periods (or going through the menopause) because they buy shit clothes that languish in their wardrobes with the tags on until they get a charity bag through the door.

“Women are more likely to have accidents in the few days leading up to their period and during their period.”

This includes accidental purchases of shit clothes that don’t fit and which look HIDEOUS. I vote they install sensors in shops that pick up on hormone imbalances, so as soon as the hormonally bewildered wander in, alarms go off and said women are escorted off the premises and propelled in the direction of the nearest Thorntons. Me? I don’t have that problem anymore because I’m post-menopausal which means that my hormones no longer fluctuate. I am psychotic 24/7. However, I can wear white jeans now WHENEVER I PLEASE. HA!

The thing is that I was, and still am, a tomboy.

In 1982 I lived in skin-tight jeans and AC/DC t-shirts, so maybe you can imagine my distress when my mother informed me that I was going to be a bridesmaid at my brother’s wedding…

To most 11-year-old girls, being a bridesmaid is a dream come true. Me? I sat down on my bed and wept because the thought of being center of attention terrified me, not to mention the indignity of having to wear a dress. In hindsight, I wish I had spoken up because at least then they wouldn’t have my sulky chops ruining their wedding album and video. In my defence, I was on the verge of starting my periods, therefore, MEGA CRANKY, and the photographer kept insisting on telling me to ‘smile ducky’ which just made me want to beat him to death with his Nikon, or whatever it was..

To make matters worse, my ‘evening do’ outfit was a pair of CANARY YELLOW pedal pushers with an equally hideous blouse. I had/have legs like chicken drumsticks, so my mother saw fit to buy me a pair of PEDAL PUSHERS. Also, she wanted her money’s worth out of the wedding sandals, so I had to wear those again, only with my SCHOOL socks.

Way to go, Ma. Could the outfit have been any bolder shade of yellow? I think not. There is a good reason why people don’t nick yellow cars. IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE ABOUT AS INCONSPICUOUS AS LORD VOLDEMORT STROLLING AROUND TESCO DOING HIS WEEKLY SHOP!

Actually, I might bring this one up in my next therapy session?

Bro, if you are reading this, I’m sorry I spoiled your day with my sulky face. I was SO out of my comfort zone with all those people (inc scary old vicars and photographers) and then having to wear a girlie dress when I was about as girlie as a dog turd. I just wasn’t bridesmaid material. Bridesmaids should LOVE every second of being a bridesmaid but I was one big sweaty, miserable mess. I am honored that you asked me, truly, and I love you for it. However, I also know that Mum would have killed you if you didn’t. Love, Sis.

It’s taken me forty odd years but I finally understand that I am a woman of simple tastes. My wardrobe consists of jeans, tunic tops and umpteen tee shirts. Everything is 100% cotton. I own one pair of boots, four pairs of Converse (bit of an obsession) and a pair of sandals. No skirts. No dresses.

I’ve finally sussed that wearing certain materials only aggravates my sensory issues which makes me more of a miserable cow than I already am. Life is hard enough without handing myself more ammo, no?

I would quite like to die wearing a pair of Converse, but knowing my luck, I’ll shuffle off my mortal coil wearing my tea-stained dressing gown and pyjama bottoms with the holey crotch. Such is life, eh?

What I do know is that my days of wearing uncomfortable shoes and clothes are over. I wasn’t designed to totter in heels and I will never again inflict my bony ankles on the general public. Whoever designed boot cut and flared jeans has my eternal gratitude. From the bottom of my bell-bottomed heart, thank you.

“Anyway, there is one thing I have learned and that is not to dress uncomfortably, in styles which hurt: winklepicker shoes that cripple your feet and tight pants that squash your balls. Indian clothes are better.” ~ George Harrison

Creative Commons via Pixabay