‘Middle aged, menopausal’ with teenage girl butterflies of excitement for my new boyfriend!

Nicola should have been on cloud nine, her dreams had all come true but she says she never felt more out of control. Welcome to peri menopause...

Menopause was the last thing on my mind. Aged just 46 and beginning a new relationship, with my second novel hitting Number One on the Best Sellers List, life was good. I should have been on cloud nine. My dreams had all come true but I’d never felt more out of control. I had hit peri-menopause. My once excruciatingly painful, but regular periods became completely unpredictable. I began to experience two month gaps, then periods that were 4 week long with continuous bleeding. I was exhausted, weepy and terrified I was dying.

In the height of summer I could no longer wear light coloured dresses or plan a trip to the pool. Instead I had to wear dark jeans with long tops to cover me in case of a dreaded ‘accident’. Not very ideal in the throes of a new relationship when I wanted to dress and impress. My decision to take my budding romance slowly was made easier by the fact that I had no desire to spend our first night together wearing pyjamas and two pads!

Normally a great sleeper, I began to wake around 3am, tossing and turning for hours resulting in my trying to get through the next day in an exhausted daze. I developed a metallic taste in my mouth which made me nauseous. I became intolerant to alcohol. Even one glass would send me to the porcelain bowl.

Dr. Google became my obsession. I suffered urinary frequency, bouts of cystitis. No wonder I was weepy!

After a night of lying on the bathroom floor simply as it was cool and close to the toilet I’d been throwing up in, after a night out and just one glass of wine, I decided that this was as bad as I wanted to get.

Wary of going on medication, I have taken the natural route of Aloe Vera gels, vitamins and gave up alcohol completely. I miss it, but for some reason my new peri-menopausal body simply could not tolerate it. I began to go to bed earlier, at around 9 or 10pm, so if I woke at 3am, which was for some reason my new ‘wake up’ time, I would at least have had a good few hours sleep. I gave up coffee after 6pm. I drank more water. I stopped googling every symptom and worrying that I had cancer. I accepted that my body is changing and acted accordingly.

I am kind to myself. I spent twenty-five years as a single Mum and both my kids have flown the nest. Now, I can put me first. If I need to have a nap, I will and if I need to stay in bed all day instead of doing housework, I will. I have not yet experienced hot flushes, or moodiness, or night sweats. Maybe they will come, hopefully not. I don’t know what will be down the line for me - if the long-term bleeding will eventually stop as I reach the end of my menopausal years, or if I might need surgery sometime. I don’t know if I will need HRT or pills. I do know that I have to accept this new stage of my life. It came upon me suddenly and knocked me for six – the realisation that I am ‘middle aged and menopausal’! Yet, still I get the teenage girl butterflies of excitement when my new ‘boyfriend’ is picking me up for our date. Then when he tells me I look beautiful, I smile and thank him, clutching my handbag full of pads, painkillers, spare underwear and……. birth control. One has to be prepared for all possibilities!

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