Menopause & Me: Alyson Walsh

Fashion editor and freelance journalist Alyson Walsh is famous for her chic grey hair and effortless, ageless style. Having found herself unprepared for menopause, she says we all need to talk about it much more.

Are you peri or postmenopausal?

I’m 55 and I’m postmenopausal.

How old were you when symptoms started?

Strangely, it felt like the moment I turned 50 my periods stopped. But I’d been experiencing perimenopausal symptoms – the dreaded vaginal dryness – since my late 40s.

The general lack of education, awareness and conversation surrounding menopausal symptoms, meant that I wasn’t prepared at all.

Were your symptoms what you expected them to be?

I never really thought about the menopause until it happened to me, aged 50. The general lack of education, awareness and conversation surrounding symptoms – peri and postmenopausal – and how they affect women, meant that I wasn’t prepared at all.

With so little information readily available, I have had to do a lot of fact-finding for myself. An experience that rings true with most of my friends.

What was the most challenging thing to deal with?

Feeling hot, tired and angry. Menopause is a mental, emotional and physical change. Some of my friends have glided through it like Jane Torvill in her heyday, whereas I’ve had more of a Tonia Harding-experience.

Crashing around feeling hot, tired, angry and self-critical, a lot of the time. ‘It makes you feel like a psycho-killer,’ one of my friends, who has just started using HRT, said recently…

That AND the vaginal dryness.

The good news is: no more periods. And not giving a damn what other people think!

Were there any positive symptoms?

The good news of being postmenopausal is: no more periods. And not giving a damn what other people think!

What are the things that got you through?

HRT and natural vaginal moisturisers by Sylk and Yes VM.

What made the biggest difference?

Talking to my friends and menopause experts about it. I feel strongly that we shouldn’t go through the menopause feeling isolated like our mothers’ generation. We know that shared knowledge is power.

The best advice you received?

It was from Professor Myra Hunter, Emeritus Professor of clinical health psychology at King’s College London. Midlife is stressful, we are under a lot of social and financial pressures – balancing work, caring for children and elderly relatives. Professor Hunter explained that we need to put the “pause” into menopause. Give ourselves a break. Look after our health, exercise, eat well and then introduce a half an hour period every day where we literally do nothing.

Kathy Abernethy, a menopause specialist nurse and author of Menopause: The One-Stop Guide advised me on the best vaginal moisturisers (above).

What has been the impact on your daily postmenopausal life?

These days I identify as exhausted! Sometimes I forget really simple words and people’s names, or find that getting out of the house in the morning takes an immense effort. Plus, feeling hot and angry – though HRT has helped with that.

Your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?

Menopause is part of a woman’s life and nothing to fear, we all go through it and the more information we have and can share the better.

You feel Hylda when…

I’m doing what I love. Riding my bike, running, spending time with Mr That’s Not My Age and friends (in no particular order!).

Find Alyson at @thatsnotmyage and read more from her on fashion brands, the fashion industry and much more on her blog.

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