COLUMN: Menopause is not funny, and we should stop treating it like a bloody joke

There are 34 recognized symptoms of menopause.

On any given day my body suffers through at least 95 of them.

And that’s not funny.

Menopause is not funny. It’s serious, often painful, and given it impacts half the planet’s population it deserves more attention.

A random selection of common menopausal symptoms includes hot flushes, night sweats, hair loss, fatigue, bloating, digestive problems, muscle tension, weight gain, brittle nails, joint pain, changes in body odor, bladder problems and dry itchy skin.

Does that sound like a day at the amusement park or what?

Mostly women suffer these and other ailments quietly. Menopause isn’t proper dinner table conversation. As my father frequently remarked while I was growing up: No one wants to hear about a woman’s plumbing.

There are few remedies which offer consistent or broad relief.

A doctor or naturopath might suggest experimenting with herbs – Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Vitex and others.

You can make creams at home. There’s one recipe I found on the internet using licorice that is brewed with coconut oil, Shea and cocoa butter, Aloe Vera juice and Jojoba oil.

Science has marched us so far. Medicine employs robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Yet when it comes to addressing quality of life for women of a certain age, we rely heavily on the tried and true recommendations of witch craft.

Researchers gave us hormone replacement therapy, but had to take it back cause – WHOOPS – that causes cancer.

My mind’s eye holds a picture of a white guy, in a white coat, raising his palms to the ceiling in a ‘oh well, we tried’ gesture.

Juxtaposition this response to what happens when a man’s body starts to mature and his hormone levels begin to change.

Billions of dollars are sunk into developing a pill to re-create the erection.

Imagine the generations of women since Viagra was introduced in 1998, sitting alone in dark corners contemplating their vaginal dryness and withering libidos whilst thinking: ‘GREAT. Oh that’s just FREAKING GREAT.’

There are mental health and emotional consequences of menopause.

Anxiety, mood swings, difficulty concentrating and foggy brain are all recognized as being related.

There’s depression as well. Whether that’s actually the result of hormonal imbalance, or only a logical reaction to getting fat and growing sideburns, is up for debate.

And of course some women get irritable.

This is the one menopausal symptom men take seriously because it can directly bear on their own comfort.

Overheard in the DeMeer kitchen, following an unspecified outburst: ‘Yeah, I know this looks ugly. But just try imagining how much worse it is on the inside.’

‘And turn down the damn furnace.’

‘Wait a minute. Kiss me. I love you.’

All women experience menopause, and we should talk about it more. It shouldn’t be embarrassing or shameful.

And it shouldn’t be the end of the world. But some days it sure feels that way.

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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