Is the menopause the reverse of teenagehood? Just call me Jemima Button…

Bodily weirdness and mental peculiarity

I am a big fan of the short story (and not-so-short film), ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button‘. The idea of a life in reverse is an intriguing one but, now in my fifties, I am beginning to wonder whether the menopause is an example of exactly that. Here’s my hypothesis: The menopause is teenagehood in reverse (imagine the outcry though, if the NHS published an article entitled, ‘Coping with your menopausal woman’!) It makes a kind of random, non-scientific sense. During the puberty-led teenage years we experience bodily weirdness and mental peculiarity as our adult hormones establish themselves, during the menopause we experience corresponding bodily weirdness and mental peculiarity as our adult hormones diminish. We also make random decisions to do rather odd things. Can the situation really be that simple, and is it possible that I am turning into Jemima Button, and now working my way backwards? I did a bit of research to find out.

Mamma Mia, here my hormones go again…

Oestrogen imbalances play a major part in both the puberty and menopause dramas (as well as the months in between) with progesterone having a strong voice in the possibly Greek chorus. During both life phases it is the fluctuations of these (and other) hormones that cause unpleasant symptoms (including tiredness and difficulties with concentration).

That’s 9% of my life!

It would appear that we women don’t get much time off from the mystical hormone dance. Puberty in girls can begin as early as eight years old and go on for around four years, which balances nicely (or not so nicely) with the four years it usually takes to get through the menopause. By my reckoning (and forgetting all the hormonal moments in between) that’s eight years in total of significant hormonal changes. With a life expectancy of 89 years, that’s a significant 9% of my life.

Hormones can change the world!

What do you imagine when you hear the word teenager? Unexpected stropping, general confusion, resistance to authority and a tendency towards depression? Well, to my mind, that sounds a bit like my current description of my 52 year-old self. I have however worked with lots of teenagers and am a big fan. Teenagers say what they want to say, are creative and exciting in their thoughts and don’t stand any nonsense. As the world is currently discovering, teenagers can be a great force for change. Wouldn’t it be great if we started saying the same thing about menopausal women!


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