Menopause in the Time of Covid-19

I remember telling a friend as she reached her milestone that it was not all downhill from here but midlife is a vantage point. In hindsight, I now realized I hadn’t factored in a number of things such as dealing with empty nest, caring for elderly parents, the added stress brought by the pandemic, among other things.

Recent studies reveal that the pandemic has exacerbated menopausal symptoms, with pandemic associated depression and anxiety in the mix. But what is rather concerning, for me, is that menopause remains a taboo subject. I know this from my own experience.

What to expect and how to deal with disconcerting changes that come with menopause is not often talked about or done so as a joke. Nonetheless, there’s a general consensus among experts that everyone (spouses and children included) need to be on board with, and know how to support a woman going through menopause.

I was so happy when Kathy Garland started the blog Navigating the Change: A Guide for the Menopausal Journey. Because menopause is a natural process, and we need to destigmatize it. Navigating the change with other women; sharing experiences, learning from experts and supporting each other has made all the difference already, for me.

My happiness with this endeavour even saw me pitch a poem, which is part of a work-in-progress, about some of the things I’ve felt acutely during this pandemic. And Kathy graciously accepted that poem.

Before I end, I should mention that I still believe midlife has its benefits. Some of them, for me, are increased creativity and improved confidence to finally write what I want. So, ageing is not all gloom and doom. But the attitude towards menopause needs to change.

Are you or someone close to you going through menopause? How you are dealing with it? Please do share!

p.s. Also linking to Poets and Storytellers United.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and blogger. Her blog focuses on poetry and creative nonfiction, and also features poets and their books.

46 Comments

  1. Menopause was long ago for me and not particularly troublesome. I was very happy to be done with the nuisance of having periods. A genetic thing, probably – my Mum said it was the same for her. But I realise some people don’t have it so easy. I think sharing one’s problems with others, and forming groups for the purpose, is a very effective way of helping oneself and each other. (I currently run a group for women writers who have been through major trauma in their lives.)

  2. I feel more normal now post menopause, after gladly shedding PMT forever. I also felt somewhat happier to know that menopause is just low hormone levels and men can get hot flushes too with a reduced level of testosterone, which can be caused by being on long-term opioid medication for pain relief. The brain reacts exactly the same in men and women when hormone levels reduce, by causing the dreaded hot flushes.

  3. The weight gain…and I don’t care what science says but my metabolism is slower now!!

  4. Sounds like I should check out that blog. I’ve been a bit moody. I know that world events and personal loss could 100% be behind it, but I suspect there might be some hormonal issues going on too. LOL, my mom NEVER likes to talk about things like this.

  5. It’s long ago for me, but I don’t remember much trauma with it. I think it is quite different with today’s women who have been on the birth control pill. It seems to be freely discussed in today’s circles.

  6. I just hit menopause a few months ago. And you are so right, in saying that it’s still taboo; and even worse, is that some people see it as some sort of disease. Very strange if you ask me. I shall check out your friend’s blog.

    Also, I recently read The New Hot: Cruising Through Menopause with Attitude and Style, by Meg Mathews. I think you might enjoy it.

  7. I’ve been going through it for a decade and suspect that hot flashes will be part of my days and nights for the rest of my life. There is so much to this life change and I suspect that each of us experiences it uniquely to some extent. A forum is a wonderful idea as well as destigmatizing it. I’m heading over to read your poem, Khaya. And I love middle age!

  8. Thanks for sharing Khaya! I hope some of your blogging buddies will also consider writing for the site. I can’t reply to people here, but for example, Magaly could write a review of that book, if she’d want to.

  9. Oh yes, as LA says, there is the weight gain! I stopped smoking and hit menopause at the same time, so have been fatter ever since. (Metabolism? Hey, EVERYTHING gets slower as we age.)

  10. I was 71 in February of this year. And long before this i underwent in 1976 a hysterectomy my uterus was removed. Luckily i had already given birth to a daughter in 1971 and a son in 1973.
    Then my husband ups and deserted me in 1978 ( not a happy situation at all)
    Then in 2000 another surgery this time my ovaries were removed.
    I was feed literature on early (menopause) which is not only just about the monthly blood flow stopping but metabolic changes in the body functioning. Feelings, tastes, perceptions gets crazily messed uo.
    However being actively involved in church ( i am Roman Catholic) took me through it all. I cannot say menopause was a breeze but it was a challenge met with faith

    Have a nice week Khaya

    Much💖love

  11. I love the poem you shared on Navigating the Change. We all have different situations…different realities. Aging is a common denominator. I am loving midlife. Thank you HRT and lube! At 61, I’m still waiting for the “post” stage of menopause to kick in.

  12. I can’t even imagine going through menopause during the Pandemic…Special blessings to all of you here who are.
    Khaya – know that ‘this too shall pass’.
    hugs

  13. I’ve heard that some women don’t experience the common symptoms of menopause much or only for a short period. Most like you and your Mum are happy to be done with having periods. Yes, definitely sharing or talking about these challenges with others helps a lot. Because at least, I know I’m not alone.

    You run another group, and with people who have gone through major traumas! That is an extraordinary ability. Thank you Rosemary for sharing your experience.

  14. It’s really good to hear you’ve managed to shed PMT, and that it can be shed forever. It feels like a long way there for me, right now. But your comment gives me hope. I appreciate you reading Stevie, thank you so much for your input.

  15. The weight gain, say that again! One thing I know though is that I’m not buying ANY new clothes, there must be a way to make the existing ones fit! 🙂

  16. With all that we’ve been through individually and world over, and still dealing with personal losses, I think moodiness and other related symptoms are to be expected. I hope you consult your doctor Rommy, and get to the underlying cause.

    Yeah, I know some women like your mom don’t like to talk about these things, women issues, in particular. Pity, because we can learn or take comfort from others who have the experience. My mom was the opposite. She was candid, and never minced her words. When I had my first period, she told me exactly what was going on. I especially miss her counsel now with menopause, she died young.

  17. I think you are right Bev about birth control pill. I would also add the modern lifestyle of balancing family, career and other personal goals. Trying to fulfill all these roles or expectations can be stressful. Luckily, I no longer have that kind of pressure. Regarding menopause being freely discussed nowadays, I don’t know…excerpt, of course with my own close friends and family. In the workplace, I believe, should be talked about more and in the right context of being supportive.

  18. Welcome to the club, Maga. 🙂 Menopause is a subject that both reveals and conceals a lot about people’s perception or attitude towards it. It can give rise to a whole lot of mixed messages or reactions, even from other women. Strange and fascinating stuff!

    Thanks a lot for the book recommendation. I already saw that it’s available on Audible; a really good thing as I don’t have much time nowadays, to read. So, audio books are a saviour. I’ve added the book on my wish list already.

    And yes, please do check out Navigating the Change blog. Kathy had already expressed her wish for your review of this book, for the blog, if you can.

  19. Oh no, Diana! Don’t say that…a decade! I hope modern medical (and other non-traditional) interventions do give you some form of relief to still enjoy your life to the full. In fact, I suspect so already as you express that you love middle age. Menopause is sure a unique experience to some extent. And it’s probably why some women don’t feel like talking about.

    Yes, having this kind of forum is really brilliant. I really appreciate what Kathy is doing with Navigating the Change. We don’t need to suffer alone, in silence. Many thanks for checking out the blog already, and your encouraging comment regarding my poem. Wishing you a lovely week, Diana!

  20. You are welcome, Kathy. Sharing Navigating the Change blog is easy for me to do. Because it’s the kind of thing, I didn’t know I needed until you offered it. I had already passed on your wish for the book review to Magaly, and I hope others too who read your comment will freely contact you for their contributions. Because I truly find these shared experiences (also here) empowering.

  21. Gillena, I appreciate you sharing your story and the challenges you faced. I can only imagine the added painful situation of your husband deserting you, and perhaps playing to the stereotype of leaving for green pastures. It’s sad really, when that happens. But again it says a lot about him not you.

    I think you were fortunate that in those years you had access to literature about menopause. As they say, knowledge is power. And faith too, I’m inclined to believe that it plays a huge role in coping with all the challenges thrown our way. I really like how you put it, “I cannot say menopause was a breeze but it was a challenge met with faith.” Thanks once again Gillena for your input.

    Have a wonderful week, too. Much love! <3

  22. Thank you Natalie, that means a lot to me. There are indeed shared things with age as the common denominator but realities are different. I really hope your post-menopause kicks in sooner. But then again, by the look of it (your exuberant and confident manner on your blog) that has not slowed you done. 🙂 You are really an inspiration!

  23. Thank you, Laura. It’s definitely some kind of weird experience. But some days are better than others. I’ve got great support at home. I’ve also removed (and continue to remove) myself from situations, things and people that exacerbate my symptoms. And I live in hope that this too shall pass. Hugs back at you!! <3

  24. I feel fine, and though it sounds gross, I’m just used to sweating (and jumping in the shower). And I’ve found that regular exercise decreases the number of flashes per day – a good incentive to get out and walk. 🙂

  25. That’s really good to hear that you feel fine, Diana. You are right too, a regular exercise helps a lot. The intensity of my flushes has decreased remarkably, and have not experienced any night sweats, since going back to my regular exercises. And a walk outdoors is a cure for many things. 🙂

  26. I should try a silk nightshirt, thanks for pointers. And poetry, indeed, is therapy for me too. Thank you, Colleen. I appreciate you reading.

  27. Hi. So glad I found you through Annika’s latest blog post. I only hinted at menopause in my collection of “flash” stories that Annika reviewed, but to be honest, I could write another entire anthology on experiences of hot flashes. Menopause did not come easily to me. And laughing now at my mom’s comment when I began menopause -“it’s nothing, I don’t even remember it,” she said. Mine lasted a good 7 years, starting in my early 50s. Started with night sweats, so in midi-winter our NE windows were wide open. (silk was too hot for me, I slept in thin cotton t-shirts that often had to be replaced middle of night) Then hot HOT flashes. At the time I was teaching in a high school, and I’d walk the halls with teenagers and sit in their classrooms with sweat pouring off my face and under my shoulders and on my back. Not a pretty picture. My doc finally prescribed ‘the patch,” and it helped me tremendously. (A “combi” patch so not too much estrogen). I’m a firm believer in it. Also, I agree with Diana. Lots of exercise helps. Meditation. And I find writing a balm. Good luck!

  28. Hi Pamela, I’m glad too our paths crossed. I’m truly honoured by your visit, thank you. Annika has a wonderful way of connecting writers with one another through her book reviews. Her review of your book and its title had me intrigued, I’ve already added it to my forever growing TBR list. 🙂

    Menopause is one of the significant stages in the woman’s life, so I believe when you say you could write another entire anthology! What is interesting is that it affects us differently as demonstrated by your mom’s comment and the fact that yours lasted for 7 years. And goodness me, all the sweating! I can only imagine how it felt for you waltzing up and down school corridors.

    It really helps to hear how others are dealing or have dealt with menopause, and more especially what brought the much needed relief. I’m taking notes from all the shared stories, my doctor and I have a lot to talk about. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Pamela. Much appreciated!

  29. As you say, we women (and men!) should be discussing this subject openly, not as if it’s a big secret. I remember during my mom’s generation when it was just called “the change,” and everyone sighed and said not another word. Good for you – discussing it with us all.

  30. Can’t say much about the experience of menopause, but midlife is indeed a time that lends itself to both confusion and clarity

  31. I went through surgical menopause 11 years ago. It was cancer. I was told I would die unless I took all the suggested treatments. I did not, and did not die, opting for a second surgery instead. I am still here, one day at a time. It was like crossing the event horizon of a black hole, and finally emerging as a quasar. I am free.

  32. Your story is a victory, despite the unfortunate circumstances that led to it. I admire your bravery. I don’t imagine deciding against all treatments suggested and opting for another surgery was an easy decision to make. But you are still here to tell the story. You are a quasar, indeed! Thank you so much for illuminating my autumn with your radiance. I appreciate you sharing your story, Lavinia.♥

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