Updated 15 November 2017

Menopause: what real people say

Are you going through the menopause transition? Then you might recognise yourself in some of these quotes by South African women, as compiled by Lydia Steenkamp.

‘‘I can’t sleep. I toss and turn all night.’’ - M (50), Somerset-West

‘‘I jerk awake drenched in sweat. And my family has to watch out… I wake up happy but by lunchtime I’m miserable and cry for no reason. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’’ - J (52), Stellenbosch

“I had very unpleasant menopause symptoms in my late forties. Hot flushes, insomnia, night sweats, mood swings, emotional outbursts and erratic periods. HVT was a liberation -- I’ve never looked back.”- E (63), Johannesburg

“The hot flashes started two years before my menopause. It was like mini anxiety attacks and greatly impacted my sleeping. As I have a history of familial breast cancer (all of which occurred before the age of 50), the doctor recommended that I shouldn’t use any form of hormone therapy. Post-menopausal, I was really unhappy and my sleeping a disaster. I kept trying all sorts of natural remedies like magnesium, sleeping with ear plugs, melatonin etc. To no avail. Two yeas ago, I finally succumbed to MHT, which I can’t praise enough. All my panic-like symptoms are gone, I sleep much better and the vaginal dryness has improved a lot. My quality of life is much better. I never skip my yearly mammograms and medical checkups, though.”- J (56), Dubai

“My symptoms started about a year and a half ago – on and off. I still get my period, but it’s irregular. I’m having hot flushes and night sweats. When it’s excessive, I don’t get enough sleep and the next day I’m very tired and irritable. My husband, normally so kind and supportive, says it’s all nonsense. I’m far too young for the menopause. As if it’s a terrible thing to have a wife who is already ‘old’ and menopausal. Yes, he never says those exact words. But it’s my interpretation, even if it sounds irrational. I feel vulnerable and not in control of my own body. The dryness during intercourse makes me feel inadequate and not sexy at all -- and therefore I’m not interested in sex. I’ve also noticed that I’ve gained weight around my waist. I used to have a tiny waist and was quite proud of it!

Lately, though, I’ve become a lot less impatient in dealing with the symptoms and my body. I’ve learned a lot from other menopausal ladies as well. And the more I talk about my symptoms openly, the less isolated I feel. I’ve even discovered that quite a few women younger than myself have these symptoms. Currently, I’m not taking any supplements or HRT as the symptoms are more manageable. If it worsens again, I’ll consult with a doctor. Maybe I’ll even try MHT.” - A (47), Cape Town

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