I turned 45 in May, I work in finance and I am married with a son.
I experienced my first symptom 14 years ago aged 31 after the birth of my son. I would sweat every night and have to wake up to change my clothes. My doctor did not think my problem had anything to do with my hormones let alone peri-menopause and pretty much dismissed my claims. I suffered for 7 years with the night sweats, increased migraines, sensitivity to light, insomnia, palpitations & hot flushes. One day at work, an older colleague (in her fifties) suggested I try taking flaxseed to see if that would alleviate my suffering. I promptly, purchased Virginia harvest Organic Cold Milled Flaxseed (Linseed). After taking flaxseed for 7 days, the night sweats decreased by 60%. Some of the benefits of flaxseed include promoting hormonal balance but there are lots of other benefits as well. My son calls me the human heater, because my skin is always so hot. In the winter months he would cuddle up to enjoy the heat coming from me.
As I had a history of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea my GP had no explanation for the hot flushes & nights sweats. I did not receive a formal diagnosis until I went to see a top UK gynecologist for a follow-up appointment following a procedure I had 8 months prior.
I did not feel comfortable talking to my friends about it because most of my friends felt I was too young to be experiencing the symptoms I described and would rather not talk about menopause due to fear of the unknown.
- I am learning to manage my energy levels, due to only being able to sleep for 4 hours or less each night.
- I love not having periods and I am very positive about the future.
- On days when I feel particularly tired, I try to organise my workload in a way that minimises too much human interaction and focus on tasks that don’t require engaging with others for long periods of time.
- The internet has proved to be a good source of information.
- I also utilise my relationships with older women who have journeyed this way before and ask lots of questions, now that I am a-bit more enlightened about the big change.
Advice to the younger generation about preparing for and coping with menopause
- Know your body, look after your body, exercise, eat well & enjoy life.
- Don’t suffer in silence. Research, talk to family & friends.
- Some of the remedies that have alleviated & cleared my symptoms include; for itchy skin & hot flushes – I infuse thyme in my bath water.
- For vaginal dryness – I apply cold pressed coconut oil which has completely resolved this problem.
- For the hot flushes – I sleep in very light clothing. With the present warm weather I sleep with my bedroom windows open & use a fan. I continue to take a teaspoon of flaxseed daily & consume foods rich in omega-3.
- When I feel overwhelmed, forgetful & fuzzy – I make a to-do list & avoid any stressful situations.
- Sometimes, I just take time out to listen to music, podcasts & sleep and l end up feeling refreshed.
- My family just let me be during those times. I have learnt the importance of communicating my feelings to close family members, especially on those days when I feel low for no reason, but can’t control how I feel because my hormones are having a moment or two.
- I embrace this stage of life with optimism & gratitude knowing that it’s only because I am alive that I am blessed to experience these changes.
Yinka Akinkunmi, 28 July 2018