by Sylvia Kinder

A lot has been written about this multi-symptom marker of the middle-aged woman, but there are always new thoughts on the issue. For lesbians, health issues, including menopause, are experienced differently to heterosexual women, a subject too large to go into here. So, we need to share our knowledge with each other, to check old beliefs and discover new truths.

Many of the feminist books on menopause contain excellent information. However, this is often buried in creative writings, and thus hard to recall. Women at a 10/40 conference once collected a hundred signs and symptoms of menopause. The following is a shorter, simple list gathered from a variety of sources.

Changes in one’s periods: cessation, irregular cycles, decrease in flow, heavy flooding, to name a few of the more obvious indicators. Hot flushes (flashes) or power surges as some call them, are common occurrences. These can be low in intensity building to almost unbearable surges of heat, both day and night. They can come with blushes and profuse sweating, sometimes followed by a chilled feeling. This may be due in part to the now cold damp clothes!

The crazy menopausal woman is not a total myth. Insomnia, a common problem in the early stages, coupled with tearful depression, can be extremely serious. For some women the onset of allergies or the increased severity of existing allergies can make for a very stressful time. The tiredness experienced by many women is also a factor in creating those well documented mood swings.

Some irritating symptoms are flatulence – yes, it is common – skin problems, dryness, and itchiness, which also applies to the nose. Those little tough hairs that appear on the chin can easily be removed. But why do they come when the rest of one’s hair starts to fall out?

The loss of libido and reduction of vaginal juices can wreak havoc on one’s sex life. This may account for the large numbers of single middle-aged dykes.

The main solution to the menopause is the end of it! What happens then could be the subject of another article. There are also some medical and herbal solutions – perhaps you can send in yours.

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