My Menopause: Aisling Grimley

10 Things I know about Menopause: Our new series delves into the menopause experiences of real women, the highs, the lows, the pain and the wisdom.

About me: My name is Aisling Grimley I'm a full-time mother of 4, I'm 52 and I live in Dublin in a busy household of a husband and 4 daughters aged 10, 16,19, and 21.

Symptoms can feel like an ambush​

1. My menopause moment: I first noticed hormone action when I was about 47 - my cycle changed (got longer) and I had some sharp bursts of irritability, breast tenderness, fuzzy head - symptoms that reminded me initially of pregnancy.

2. Secret menopause or open book? I was the first of my group to mention menopause and at first I was very reticent, embarrassed and shy about talking about it. People's reactions were interesting and most people a bit shocked that I was talking about it. It's still not a comfortable topic. Some women see it as weakness to have symptoms or 'give in' to menopause.

3. My symptoms:  My symptoms are on-going 5 years later they are very variable - some days lack of confidence, other days irritability, the odd night sweat. They can feel like an ambush. They have never been too intense.

4. My approach: to work on myself and try to improve my diet (less sugar, less coffee and less wine, more vegetable and fish protein, more vegetables);  stay fit and move every day - I try to move as much as possible and include stretching and strengthening exercises in my regime as well as cycling and swimming and reduce stress where possible. I take supplements for overall health and hormone balance in particular. My GP suggested that I was a candidate for HRT because my FSH level is 49 but as my symptoms are not very limiting I wouldn't consider this option. I've never liked taking artificial hormones. The pill made me moody and I put on weight.

The good, the bad, the ugly

5. The pros: Menopause has given me an opportunity to look at my life and the way I'm living and to shift some aspects. My symptoms have been guides. For example I know that some of my irritability was around being a full-time mother led me to set up My Second Spring.  Night sweats come on when I have wine in the evening so I've cut back.  I wake at night when I've had too much coffee too late at night. I love to eat so I need to keep moving to keep weight gain at bay.

6. The cons  Feeling fuzzy headed and low in confidence can be very destabilising.

7. What’s helped: Taking supplements have helped my tiredness and given me more energy. Exercise has been brilliant in feeling empowered and strong and also the daily high that it brings which helps reduce stress.

8. What hasn’t: My doctor suggesting that I was a candidate for HRT even though I was managing symptoms and had told her I didn't want to take it. I felt very annoyed by that as she clearly wasn't listening to me.

9. Best menopause advice: My guiding light was Dr Christiane Northrup The Wisdom of Menopause as it gave me a wide, balanced and positive outlook on menopause.

10. Sum up menopause in three words:  Massive personal development  - aka My Second Spring

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