Or, Things Your Mother Never Told You ….
When someone said to my younger self “menopause means no more PMS and periods”, my response was “bring it!”. Yes, menopause does have its pros – no more hormonal ups and downs, that emergency stash of period supplies you had in your bag since you were 14 finally gets the heave ho, no more sore boobs, water retention, freaking out if the condom breaks/pill doesn’t work. All fabulous stuff.
Then there is … the Dark Side ……its inevitable that the cons of menopause are going to fill a longer list than the pros, but you knew that already, didn’t you? No? I’m not going to go into the whole catalogue, but instead, talk about the one thing that has really got my attention. My hair, and I don’t mean just on my head, but all over. If like me, you’ve spent your life from adolescence to peri menopause dealing with having loads of hair, be thankful. You may need all those extra follicles when Madam Meno moves in.
I first noticed it when my pubic hair thinned out so much I developed a bald patch right up the middle. Now how in the Hell do you disguise that! If it was on one side or the other, or both, you could just cultivate on of those strip-up-the-middle growths. But noooo, I had to develop something that could be mistaken for the kind of hair cul-de-sac some men get. So what’s the big deal? I hear you say. That part of my anatomy doesn’t get seen by anyone but my husband and the gynaecologist. It bothers me and it bothers me that it bothers me and makes me feel self conscious. Ridiculous isn’t it.
Then my eyelashes thinned out and became so fair, they are practically invisible. Add to that the fact that I can’t tint my eyelashes any more, DIY or salon job. Something in the tints triggers an allergic reaction in my eyes. Fortunately, I have a long and happy relationship with the mascara industry. I stopped waxing my eyebrows a few years ago, and boy am I glad I did because those are now just able to maintain the sort of thin, over-tweezed look so popular in the the 1920s and 30s. Thank God for eyebrow pencils.
There’s a lot less need to do hair removal on my legs and underarms than I ever thought possible. Finally! An area you are happy to see become follicly (is that a word?) challenged!
Since last Autumn the final straw was my head. I used to have a really thick head of hair. I mean thick leaning on the side of bushy. After every cut, the hairdresser would sigh and get the thinning shears out. My children and grandchildren inherited it and if you’ve ever seen a photo of my son, David, you’ll know what I mean. I’ve thinned out A LOT! First at the temples, than the sides and crown. Its not really noticeable in that I don’t have patches that look sparse or bald. Some women develop that, but I have been fortunate not to. But I can definitely see and feel the difference.
Does it matter? In the Big Picture, no, not really. I’m healthy, active and have a doctor who is very supportive about my choices (I am very pro HRT). And for the most part, my path to menopause has been pretty easy, if the horror stories I’ve heard are anything to go by. I haven’t gained loads of weight (keep active!), my skin hasn’t started looking like a dried out catcher’s mitt (all those years of good skin care are paying off), I haven’t completely lost my ability to concentrate and remember things (though I felt like I was at one point!) and I sleep better than I have for a long time. Menstrual supplies have been replaced with eyebrow pencils and volumising shampoo.
Now, what to do about that bald patch …….suggestions on a postcard to Curly Sue.