We spoke to the ladies behind Hot Flush
By Alison Lynch
After being told by her doctor that she was perimenopausal during a routine appointment at the age of 50, Jo McKewan decided to Google it on the way to work. She found ‘masses of information’, but very little to reassure her.
Now ‘textbook post-menopausal’ at the age of 54, Jo runs the Hot Flush blog with friend Ann Stephens, ‘who’s surprised to find herself still perimenopausal’ at 56. Their site is aimed at informing, entertaining and reassuring women just like them.
Here’s what they really want you to know about the menopause.
1. Perimenopause comes before menopause – who knew?
“We knew that the mysterious menopause would hit us at some point in middle age, but we lived in blissful ignorance of what this looked like and when it might happen. Nobody had bothered to tell us that, on average, women are in perimenopause for four years before their periods stop. Consequently, we blundered around feeling moody, tearful and at times, murderous, without making the link to our dwindling supply of hormones.”
2. It’s like Pandora’s box
“Hitting perimenopause can feel like opening Pandora’s box – you don’t know what you’re going to find! There are at least thirty four accepted symptoms of perimenopause that can knock you off your feet. Ann’s frozen shoulder, or ‘fifties shoulder’, as it’s called in China and Japan, was a sign that her hormones were running low. Jo’s itchy, crawling sensation under her skin? Now it had a name – formication. That new ringing in her ears? Hello, menopausal tinnitus! Who knew there were so many different symptoms?”
3. You may leak when you laugh and laugh when you leak
“Stress incontinence – caused by pelvic floors weakened by a reduction in oestrogen – means that laughter, coughing, sneezing and downward dogs are sometimes accompanied by leaks. However, with the help of our women’s health physiotherapist friends, we learnt that not only are we among the one in four UK women* who experience bladder weakness at some point in their life, we’re also among the 85% of women who can strengthen our pelvic floors with the help of daily exercises**.”
Follow these daily pelvic floor exercises from TENA Lady and you should start to see a difference within a few months. You can also give yourself peace of mind and protection from leaks by using the right TENA Lady product. All TENA Lady pads and pants offer Triple Protection from leaks, odour and moisture.
4. There may be anxiety, mood swings, with occasional tearfulness, ahead
“This is the menopausal forecast for so many women! Ann calls these her ‘Shelley Duvall moments’ after a character from The Shining. Anxious about making mistakes, she lost self-confidence and her decision-making hit rock bottom, leading to frustrated outbursts of rage that took her and her poor, unsuspecting family by surprise. Anxiety is one of the most misunderstood symptoms of menopause and knowing that fluctuating hormones are the cause really helps.”
5. It can go straight to your midriff
“Creeping weight gain meant we had to stop kidding ourselves that those bursting trouser buttons didn’t need action. Hormonal changes affect weight gain and fat gets redistributed around the body – our midriffs were living proof of this. We reassessed our diets. Out went those processed, fatty, sugary foods that weren’t doing us any favours. In came the healthier plant-based foods, complex carbs and exercise.
6. There’s a smorgasbord of management options
“Menopause can be discombobulating, but fortunately there are a number of practical steps you can take to be in control, whether that’s re-evaluating your diet and lifestyle, taking HRT (for those who can and choose to), or considering supplements and alternative treatments. These simple steps can help to improve your overall health and wellbeing.”
7. It’s brilliant on the other side!
“The general perception is that menopause is all doom and gloom. Take it from us, once you understand what’s happening, make sure you ask your doctor for help to get on top of any symptoms, as the other side is like nirvana in comparison. There are no periods, you have more energy and there’s plenty of living and loving to be done.”
If you’re going through menopause and experiencing bladder weakness, finding the right TENA Lady product will help you get back to doing everything you love. Try for yourself by ordering a free sample below.