Watch out Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Menopause Wolf is coming to get you!

I was recently talking to a wonderful woman that I met at a networking event – in fact in the open networking she purposely headed in my direction after she’d heard what Phoenix Wellness Coaching was all about. She told me she wanted to talk to me because she had just had a full hysterectomy and was suffering the symptoms of the menopause, brought on by her operation.
She was surprised by this as she hadn’t expected to go through the menopause and no-one explained it to her. The fact of the matter is that yes if you have a total hysterectomy you will experience menopause directly after your operation. This is known as a surgically induced menopause. If your ovaries remain after the operation, then you will also experience menopause but the timing will be determined naturally by the ovaries.
This lady was really upfront about her symptoms and the fact that she had not been at all prepared to experience them; she thought that by having a hysterectomy she would skip the menopause and go straight to post-menopause, but that just wasn’t the case. We laughed a little as she described what she was feeling, in her words she had become “a walking disaster”!
That really struck a nerve for me, as I could resonate with what she was feeling. In my recent Thrive course I described myself as Little Red Riding Hood and the menopause was the Big Bad Wolf. I felt that I’d managed to outrun the menopause for a time, so when I did experience it I was quite taken aback by just how much it affected me – I really did say “oh my what big teeth you have!” to that particular big bad wolf.
But why do we feel this way? Firstly, for me and probably for the lady I met whose story started me thinking, it is lack of preparation or knowledge. We don’t seem to head off and learn about the menopause before we reach that “certain age”, but why is that? We wouldn’t run a marathon without doing the training first would we? So why do we not talk about the menopause or try to arm ourselves with the knowledge that will help us to understand what our bodies are going through? If we had the knowledge, then the impacts would be lessened as we’d know what was happening and be able to take steps to make the small changes needed to thrive through this part of our lives.
Secondly for me, I think it is the realisation that the menopause marks a change in our lives – effectively when we are moving from youth to middle age and beyond. This can be scary because it means we are ageing, and I don’t think any of us are really ready to face the passing of time. It’s like the menopause is a door slamming shut on our youth whilst another heavier door opens towards old age! I know I felt this – I remember thinking I don’t want to acknowledge that I am menopausal because that means I’m getting old. I remember my mum saying once about a friend “she’ll get wrinkles soon now she’s in her change”. I know it wasn’t meant as a criticism but more as an observation, but why not look at the positives; the freedom the menopause gives us, the fact that many of the cares of our younger years are gone and we have the chance to come home to being us again.
So let’s help ourselves and lots of other women by talking about our experiences, telling our stories loud and proud and showing younger women that the menopause is nothing to be feared. It’s simply puberty in reverse and another fantastic stage in our amazing lives. Let’s embrace the second half of our lives and hold our heads up high and say “yes I am a menopausal woman, and awesome with it”.
I am excited to say that I will shortly be launching a Podcast series looking at the full range of women’s life choices. I’ll be talking to experts in women’s health, nutrition and life coaching plus having some great conversations with women who have experienced menopause and many other life changing situations, and learnt how they got through it all. Do look out for my Women’s Life Choices: Real Women, Real Stories series on my website.
Let’s start to see the menopause as something we train for, like that long distance run which I do a lot. I wouldn’t recommend you got into one of those without training and so why not treat the menopause the same – do the training, arm yourself with knowledge, make the lifestyle changes that will help you to thrive through the menopause now and make sure that it isn’t the Big Bad Wolf or that you feel you become a “walking disaster zone”.
Knowledge is definitely power!