BENJAMIN Franklin famously said that in life, nothing is certain but death and taxes.
If you’re a woman though, there’s another natural part of the female life cycle we can all expect to encounter — the menopause.
Typically occurring between the ages of 45-55 (although for some it can kick in earlier), the menopause is a big part of the ageing process for women — yet it’s so rarely a part of public conversation.
It’s often a gradual process over months or years, but is usually considered official when a woman has gone 12 months without a period.
Eight out of 10 women will experience symptoms along with the menopause — like hot flushes, night sweats and anxiety — and these can sometimes have a big impact.
But with so much taboo around the topic, it can be difficult to know what’s normal and what’s not, and whether these are just things you have to put up with, or something you can take steps to manage.
That’s where arming yourself with some knowledge becomes important. From hilariously relatable first-person accounts, to medical experts offering advice on coping with symptoms, here are some helpful menopause resources to have on your phone and bookshelf...
1. Confessions Of A Menopausal Woman by Andrea McClean (Transworld)
When Loose Women presenter Andrea McClean started going through early menopause at age 37, she desperately wished to read a book that understood the complex roller-coaster of emotions she was going through.
Finding nothing that spoke to her, she decided to pen her own account of undergoing a hysterectomy and struggling to come to terms with psychological fallout of the menopause.
Packed with candid humour and brilliant advice, this a lovely book that feels almost like sitting down for a cup of tea with a good friend.
2. The Hot Topic by Christa D’Souza (Short Books Ltd). See https://www.instagram.com/p/BEyRbpVQvzZ/
If you’ve ever wondered how a chic ex-Vogue editor handles the menopause, this is the bedside tome for you.
In this liberating book, Christa D’Souza poses many of he questions that women ask later in life — like what is the point of us now we’re biologically irrelevant?
OK, it might sound bleak, but it’s actually a surprisingly uplifting read on the subject.
Written with her trademark style and flair, D’Souza finds plenty of silver linings to reaching this important life milestone.
3. Flash Count Diary by Darcey Steinke (Canongate Books)
Hot flushes. Insomnia. Depression. Darcey Steinke is one writer that’s been there and bought the T-shirt.
Initially, she began writing this book because she couldn’t find much on the process of menopause, aside for where it is handled as a ‘disease’ that needs to be treated. She was also shocked to discover how little research there is around the topic.
Using her own personal experience as a starting point, Steinke takes a step back and examines society’s relationship with ageing women as a whole, and the culture of silence and shaming around the menopause.
She also posits at how we can look to animals, particularly the way orca whales treat post-reproductive females, to build a new framework as a society.
4. Wellness With Liz Earle (lizearlewellbeing.com)
Beauty and lifestyle guru Liz Earle is well known for talking all things menopause and she’s even released a book on the subject, called The Good Menopause Guide.
And in her weekly podcast, Wellness With Liz Earle — which covers all kinds of different women’s wellness topics, like nutrition, skincare and gut health — she often dedicates episodes to the menopause, with various different expert guests imparting their advice.
Earle is a huge advocate for HRT, so it’s a good starting point for any woman who is considering the treatment and wants to gather opinions before making any decisions.
5. The Menopause Movement Podcast (Available on Apple and Google Play)
Hosted by Dr Michelle Gordon, this American podcast delves into the mindful side of menopause, touching on spirituality, holistic treatments, and retaining your identity after the change.
Designed to coach women not just to survive but thrive through the menopause, Gordon takes an examined eye into all kinds of alternative subjects — from aligning your energy with joy and dealing with a sense of loss, to hunting out alternative therapies.
A great recommendation for the Gwyneth Paltrow-type in your life.
6. Menopodcast (available on Apple, Google Play and Spotify)
Dubbed ‘two friends chatting about the change’, pals Sarah Auerswald and Julia Frey chew the fat over the latest things they’ve heard, seen or learnt about the menopause.
In the first four seasons, they chose a book about the subject and discussed a chapter per episode, rounding off the cast with a hilarious segment called ‘How Hot Was Your Flash?’
In more recent episodes, they’ve taken the approach of deep diving into specific topics.
All seven seasons are worth a listen, and the chatty half-hour episodes are perfect background noise for cooking or pottering around the house.