There are many things we love about Lisa Jewell, starting of course, with her wonderful books. What you might not know is that she always planned to write her first book when she was 50. Which we think is a fine age to plan to do something momentous.
In fact, Lisa Jewell was just 27 when her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was published. Now in her midlife, that goal of one novel has turned into a string of hits. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller many times over, and her books have been translated into 25 languages.
Here, Lisa turns from fiction to a highly personal account of her perimenopausal experiences.
How old were you when your symptoms started?
I was 49 and a half when perimenopause started properly. I’m now 50 and a bit. Apart from a faster cycle and heavier bleeding, I’ve had no other symptoms. I’ve had no hot flushes or (more than usual) mood swings, no sleep issues, no forgetfulness. Just lots and lots of bleeding.
What were your symptoms – and were they different to what you expected?
Right up until I was nearly 48 I felt as fertile as ever. I do think if l hadn’t been using contraception, I might still have been able to get pregnant naturally.
Then I had a couple of short cycles and thought, aha, here it comes. But it went back to normal again until six months before my 50th birthday when my periods started coming every three weeks and were stupidly heavy. I was also spotting a lot between periods and not having ovulation symptoms with every cycle.
READ MORE These are the 34 menopause symptoms.
What has been the hardest thing to deal with?
The huge clots of blood that fall out of me sometimes when I take out a tampon. Some the size of a small fist.
I enjoy being older generally and not being seen as an object, but as a woman. I don’t miss anything about being young.
Any positive symptoms?
Not yet. I enjoy being older generally and not being seen as an object, but as a woman. I don’t miss anything about being young. But I don’t think these advantages are necessarily menopause related, rather just a positive side of getting older.
What are the things that are getting you through it so far?
Because my symptoms are only blood related, all I do to get me through it is to keep a ‘bleeding diary’ and keep buying lots of huge tampons! I think knowing that other women are having a worse time than me is helpful – I don’t have it so bad. Or at least, not yet. My friend said she didn’t start getting hot flushes until after she’d been through her menopause. So who knows what’s still to come.
Is there an impact on your daily life?
There has been no impact on my daily life other than the annoyance of not knowing when my period is due any more and being able to plan around it.
Menopause needs to be normalised and expected rather than kept as a strange, dark secret.
What do you say to other women?
That so far my experience has been fine, but to talk about it a lot, especially to younger women. Menopause needs to be normalised and expected rather than kept as a strange, dark secret.
Your menopause is…
My perimenopause started late and so far has been messy and bloody. I know I may have a long journey yet ahead of me so worse things might be yet to come. I never wanted to stop being fertile, mainly because I enjoy ovulating, when I feel pumped and alive and find men unusually attractive. But these perimenopausal periods are so gross that they’re making think I’d be more than happy to sacrifice the joy of ovulation for the joy of no more bleeding!