No need to get in such a sweat during the menopause transition

Aisling Grimley launched MySecondSpring.ieto help increase awareness about the menopause.

THE current TV ad campaign on our screens has a swimsuit-clad woman sitting in her garden cooling herself down with ice cubes as a bemused man questions why she would be behaving this way, in the “depths of winter”.

He’s one of a middle-aged couple passing by and his female partner knows only too well, as she sympathetically reaches into her handbag for the solution she’s found to easing hot flushes.

The tongue-in-cheek ad run by A Vogel, the herbal remedy company, brings out into the open, literally, the M-word; a word that not too long ago was delicately called ‘the change of life’.

But even still, despite women being more liberated, educated and having the world wide web at the their fingertips, only one in four knows what symptoms to expect when facing this life transition, according to research carried out by A Vogel.

Dublin woman Aisling Grimley says this lack of awareness was one of the reasons she launched the menopause website called last October.

Just turned 50 last month herself, when she did some soundings among her own friends in preparation for the website, “it was difficult to say the word at first”; there was an element of turning away from what was a taboo subject linked with negativity rather than positivity.

“There can be the sense for women that they will be dried up, finished and it’s all over,” says Aisling. “I want to break that mindset with an optimistic alternative and offer support while they go through it.”

So far 380 women have subscribed to her site — 70% of them Irish — and there are approximately 1,000 unique visitors monthly. She invites women to share their stories online and refers to one woman who described “unleashing my inner hell”; how she would lock herself into her bedroom with a cup of tea to get away from everyone.

A mum of four girls aged 18, 16, 14 and seven, she jokes that she is used to being in a hormonally charged household while juggling with her own perimenopausal swings.

“I had no period at one stage for three months. I thought I was pregnant. I was so relieved, I said ‘if this is the menopause that’s grand — bring it on’,” she laughs.

And what exactly has it brought on for her? “I do notice for instance, that if I have been on a night out and had a couple of drinks, I get hot flushes. I also sometimes feel a bit low — you know when you’re in that place when you can think you won’t get out of it — but it’s for a short enough time, so it passes.”

When the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, the adrenal glands take over, she explains, so it’s important to take supplements to support them.

Just as all the literature suggests, she tries to eat well, exercise and maintain stress management. Having studied homeopathy she also firmly believes that if we do take care of ourselves “our bodies know how to do it” — as in, ease us through the physical changes.

Research carried out by the Women’s Health Council which puts the average age of menopause at 51 in Ireland, reveals the top four symptoms experienced by women in this country are hot flushes, night sweats, irritability and mood swings.

However, the range of symptoms are far reaching in intensity and experience for every woman. And they can creep up insidiously, especially on the three out of four women who are unaware, or unprepared, for the transition.

Although there are numerous online resources on the subject, Aisling hopes My Second Spring will offer a context for Irish women to understand what is happening to them as they experience those symptoms.

Hopefully, as the M-topic is discussed more openly among Mná na hÉireann, they can avoid icing themselves in swimsuits in the winter months.



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