Roisin Gorman's Open Letter... on the menopause

'Davina McCall would be more representative of her tribe if she had flab like the rest of us instead of actual abs'

Davina McCall has become the poster girl of the menopause.

Women in England and Wales are getting a campaign on the pitfalls of the menopause. Women everywhere else are getting a window opened.

Davina McCall has become the poster girl of 'the change', rocking her HRT patches and testosterone gel, the crack cocaine of the menopausal woman.

The TV presenter would be more representative of her middle-aged tribe if she didn't have actual abs because body chemistry dictates that the menopause collects your flab where it will most annoy you.

Among the blizzard of information available online is the technical hormone stuff which says, 'blah, blah, biology, your body stores oestrogen in belly fat', although I may not have been paying that much attention.

I knew more about the life cycle of a frog than I did about the hormone roller coaster ahead when the menopause circus came to town, and I don't really know anything about frogs. But I'll bet they don't get hot flushes.

I'd never heard of the perimenopause until it hit, and still can't use the word without thinking of spicy chicken. It's the bit where you're still having periods, and the big 'M' is when they stop completely. Who knew?

The aim of the new campaign from the UK's Menopause Charity is to tackle five of the many symptoms, including loss of strength, sex drive and lubrication.

Chirpy Lorraine Kelly's involved and she's the kind of woman who could casually discuss vaginal dryness at a bus stop. Gwyneth 'Goop' Paltrow is also menopausal, but we try not to encourage her in case she gets the love eggs out.

Apparently, we still need to tackle taboos and share our shame even though we're grown women and have quite possibly reared families and held down jobs and done things with our lives.

I know it's the womanly way not to make a fuss, just get on with things and make a mental note to defrost the freezer, have the menopause, buy milk, but clearly we need to shout a bit louder if there are women who feel they're being left behind.

It's estimated that 80pc of women will have a dessert trolley of menopausal symptoms, from a quick hot flush to loss of bone density to feeling like you've lost your mind, and they can go on for decades.

On a completely irrelevant side issue, I still don't know why American women have flashes and we have flushes. Ours sound like a toilet, theirs sound glamorous.

I had my resolutely European hot flushes for two years before night sweats hit and drove me into the arms of HRT patches, which will be prised from my cold dead hands. They also relieved the breast pain and the need to carry my boobs around like fresh eggs. It can be a bit hard to explain in a Tesco queue.

You'd think the sisterhood would be pleased that one of our number had found relief from many months of waking up hot, cold, then hot again and crying from lack of sleep, but I got lectures about HRT's side effects. One was from a smoker whose tobacco intake had depleted her irony stores.

You say black cohosh, I say give me the neatly boxed chemicals.

Every woman has a different menopause and a different way of dealing with it but the one thing we have in common is that our amazing bodies continue to be amazing, even when they're a pain in the ass.

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