What my menopause feels like
“My internal thermostat had broken”
“One night, I woke up at exactly 4am, boiling hot. It was as if my internal thermostat had just broken,” says Rachel, 59. “From then on, for the next 6 years, the heat would come over me with no warning, like a furnace.”
Rachel also had emotional symptoms. “Slowly, confusingly, I stopped feeling like myself. I couldn’t pin it down or put it into words – just a feeling that I was outside myself, or not in touch with my old self.”
“My periods changed and I got itchy skin”
“In my early 40s, my periods went from predictable to erratic,” says Sally, 57. “The flow was so strong and heavy, I developed iron-deficiency anemia.”
Sally also got dry, itchy skin – another common symptom. “My skin became dry almost overnight. It was such a dramatic shift.”
Read more about how periods can change during perimenopause, and menopause and itchy skin.
“It’s like my head is full of cotton wool”
“I have feelings of being overwhelmed with the simplest of things,” says Poppy. “Even making the bed feels like a long process, and I’m exhausted afterwards. Things I’ve done naturally and without thinking for years are sometimes too much to think about.
“It affects my working life, too… Once, I ended up bursting into tears when I got home because I felt unable to do the job I’ve done for 24 years. I feel so spaced out – as if my head is full of cotton wool."
Read more about brain fog and menopause.
“Joint pain made it difficult to get out of bed”
Meera says menopause wasn’t really discussed in her South Asian community, which left her unprepared when she started getting symptoms at the age of 40.
“It started with my hair noticeably thinning. Then night sweats, which disturbed my sleep because I’d need to get up to change my nightwear. I also experienced stiffness and joint pain, which often made it difficult to get out of bed.”
“As a keen runner who’d done half marathons, recovering after runs became harder. But I kept pushing through, thinking: ‘Maybe I’m eating something wrong? Maybe I’ve got a bug?’”
Years of battling with heavy periods, brain fog, anxiety and stiff joints followed – but Meera was told she was too young for menopause. It was only when friends started getting the same symptoms that she realized she’d been perimenopausal.
“Looking back, I wish I’d been equipped with information. I actually think menopause education should start at school!”
Read more about menopause and joint pain.