Embracing menopause

Jean Kittson is proud to be menopausal.
Jean Kittson is proud to be menopausal. Contributed

COMEDIAN and author Jean Kittson hadn't had a good night's sleep in days. And she was sick of the hot flushes that were plaguing her life.

"I was having hot flushes on stage which was embarrassing," she said.

"I was perspiring which made me look nervous which, as a comedian, is not a good thing: it makes the audience nervous."

Determined to find something to help her survive the first signs of menopause, she went to her local pharmacy and approached one of the more senior-looking ladies who was likely experiencing the same signs and symptoms as herself.

Jean explained how she couldn't sleep as she would wake up in a sweat, kick off the doona, only to wake up freezing later.

The lady just stared at her. Then her eyes darted around the shop furtively before she leaned closer and mouthed the words: "Hot flushes?"

"It was as if it was something embarrassing," Jean said.

"Like it was something like the plague. And these are women that will steer you towards haemorrhoid cream without batting an eyelid."

Today is Menopause Awareness Day and Jean is adamant that women need to break down the stigma of menopause and start talking about it.

Jean is not ashamed to be menopausal. She doesn't understand why hot flushes, mood swings and hormonal changes need to be discussed in hushed tones.

"Menopause is the last frontier of women's health," Jean said.

"I just started talking about menopause which was something not many people did, especially in the media. I think it is because it ages them.

"There is this whole cult about keeping young and woman wanting to look younger than their age.

"It just forces menopause underground. Women don't talk about it, which makes it hard to get info."

Menopause is the final menstrual period of woman's life and tends to occur in women between the ages of 45 and 55. It is often referred to as the "change of life".

It occurs when the production of hormones by the ovaries begin to slow down. As the change occurs, the hormone levels in the body tend to fluctuate.

Symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, pains, irritability, tiredness and headaches.

She said each woman's experience of menopause was an individual one and it was important to find something that worked for them.

Jean tried Hormone Replacement Therapy patches before discovering that Remifemin worked for her.

"It's different for every woman and it's an adjustment for the family as well," she said.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet can alleviate the symptoms.

Jean compared menopause to puberty, except that with puberty, people accepted a girl's mood swings as her being hormonal.

Jeas admits she's embraced the mood swings.

"It's great," she said. "I love the freedom of getting angry for no reason. Getting angry at rice because I can't cook it.

"It's really liberating. It's not getting old, it's growing up.

"I feel older and wiser. I know what I want and I'm not afraid to let people know."

Topics:  menopause women's health

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