Life After the ‘M’ word CAN be fun…
A younger friend paid me one of the best compliments that I have ever had the other day. “You’re juicy, not withered,” she said. We had been bemoaning her transition through peri-menopause and I, wanting to offer a glimmer of hope, said that my life had never been better now that I had been through it and come out the other side. “There definitely is life after menopause,” I said, explaining that I was now back in control and loving it.
Yes, my bones ache. Yes, there are wrinkles appearing on my once unlined skin. Yes, weight gain has been a big issue (pardon the pun – this post is full of them). Oh, and – yes, I feel sexier than ever and now realise that I haven’t been confined to a social scrap-heap alongside a mountain of old, withered females.
Sex, you say? Loss of libido you presume! This may be a taboo subject, but let me impart the ground-breaking news that post-menopause, a woman’s brain circuitry becomes more similar to that of a male – selfish and egotistical – and my sex drive seems to have gone back to my pre-pregnancy days.
I have stopped putting the needs of others first. In fact, my sex life has improved because the emotional side has disappeared. I can now enjoy the act of lovemaking without having to feel a connection between the physical and the emotional.
Shock, horror… just like a man I can want to have sex just for pure pleasure.
So take heart those of you who haven’t reached this period (or post-period) in your life. The ‘M’ word (so behind me that I can’t even write it now) is often misappropriated as meaning ‘a pause from men’ but actually comes from the Greek for meno meaning month and pausis meaning ‘ending’ – thus literally translated as ‘a pause in a life cycle.’ Vilified over the years, especially by mothers in the 50s and 60s who didn’t want to scare their darling daughters, the menopause has come in for a bad rap over the years.
Also known as ‘the change’, let’s make sure our darling daughters know that these days it can be a change for the better and can free them from those chaotic hormonal cycles that can govern their lives.
Think of the benefits of being post-menopausal apart from saying goodbye and good riddance to hot flushes, night sweats, changes in sleep and being a crabby, moody bitch: no nasty, heavy periods rendering you unable to leave the house; no need to use contraception; no fear of getting pregnant and the enjoyment of luxurious sex in the morning or a bit of afternoon delight without interruption from children.
I won’t bore you with how disabled I felt and how many embarrassing situations I faced when my ‘M’ was at its worst. It can be hell and hormones are definitely a female’s biggest enemy, firing off from behind enemy lines deep within the body.
In the 1870s obstetrician Lawson Tait considered that menopausal women were at real risk of mental derangement and incurable dementia. The worst tendency, he said, was for menopausal women to abuse alcohol and his prescription was a spell in an asylum. Husbands were only too eager to lock their wives away, divorce them and then marry a much younger woman. Sounds familiar?
I prefer the attitude to post-menopausal women in 18th Century England, that can be seen in the character of Mrs. Slipslop from Henry Fielding’s novel Joseph Andrews who sought nothing more in her post-menopausal state than to enjoy the pleasure of sex without the punishment of pregnancy and resolved “to give loose to her amorous inclinations, and to pay off the debt of pleasure which she found she owed herself, as fast as possible.”
Comedian and author Kathy Lette thinks that although menopause gets a terrible rap, it’s actually empowering. “On the world stage all the women who are really impressive are post-menopause,” she says. Think of all those older women that you know with an inner glow and a twinkle in their eye.
Did you know that women’s testosterone goes up as they age and men’s goes down? Maybe that’s why women live longer and prove to be so awesome in later life. Presumably I am one of the postmenopausal women who have an increase in testosterone as they age, hence the whiskers on my chin!
Dare I say it, but it may all be in the mind and each of us will have our own sense of perception about what we should be like after ‘M’.
Controversial, maybe and it could be something to do with my raised testosterone levels, but I have found that coming through the ‘M’ is strangely liberating and exhilarating and that I am happier than before without the associated monthly depression.
So the good news is that it is not downhill all the way. Life post-menopause is one of nature’s best-kept secrets and I don’t seem to be turning into an old crone. Not just yet, anyway. It is an exciting time and every day seems to bring the promise of a new adventure. No Zimmer frame or track suit bottoms for me just yet!
Life post-menopause means embracing new friends, young and old, flirting disgracefully with confidence and generally having fun without fear, or caring, that I am embarrassing myself. I can finally be me and live the life that I want to lead.
Forget those stories of a waning sex drive and dried up hormones and the conventional wisdom that says women lose their desirability once they’re of a certain age.
Of course not all post-menopausal women will be as lucky as I have been. They may find that their vaginal tissue thins to the point where they can no longer tolerate intercourse. They may need to use lube before any attempt at penetration because their natural juices have evaporated.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ to how you will cope with life after ‘M’, but there are alternative remedies out there, including HRT, natural foods, supplements, magnets in your pants or a glass or two of wine. Whatever works for you I say (as the men in white coats turn up at my front door, help me into a straitjacket and escort me to the ambulance outside). Let’s get rid of the old stereotype of post-menopausal women and take a fresh look at the women who are living it in style.
Remember – we’re juicy, not withered!
(Note from The Editor: Thank you to our anonymous Guest Writer who has chosen to go under the mysterious name of The Divine Mrs M, a woman in the Autumn of her years but enjoying the sunny rays of an Indian Summer! You can find out more about Mrs M here. Let us know what the big ‘M’ was like for you…)