Now I have reached my mid 40s I am starting to notice a few physical changes that herald the start of the menopause which has got me thinking about how I am about to enter a new phase of my life.
I have spent so much of my adult life focusing on pregnancy and birth, it has come as a shock to realise I know nothing about menopause. It's not something that comes up in conversation when you're talking to young women who have just found out they are pregnant, or whose boobs feel as if they are going to explore just after they have given birth. But now I have started my own journey into the menopause, I have become a lot more conscious about attitudes to this particular rite of passage.
Needing a comb over
I have found it fascinating that people do not appear to want to talk about the menopause and have been wondering why. For example....
I have noticed that my hair has been falling out. Now I am a pretty pragmatic person and don't worry too much about my appearance, but the thought of going bald has set me off in a blind panic. I was all set to make a mad rush down to the emergency doctors but as I had an appointment to get my hair cut - the hair I have left - I thought I'd talk to the hairdresser about it first.
What the hairdresser thinks
The hairdresser is like the local catholic priest - you can tell her anything. The salon I visit is small so conversations are shared. Customers and hairdressers talk about anything although discussion does tend to focus on relationships and sex. So I looked forward to a good old chin wag with 'the girls' about my hair and what to expect.
When I brought the topic up, the very nice (and very young) hairdresser whispered to me that yes, your hair does thin when you become menopausal. And in an even quieter voice which I could barely hear she told me it's because there is a rise in testosterone levels. Then she gave me a rather pitying look and changed the subject.
What struck me was that if this had been a conversation about sex, pregnancy or even death, it would have been at a normal volume level and more than likely included everyone who was in the salon. But despite the fact that the salon was full of women, my hairdresser and I were talking in whispers. I wanted reassurance and information. What I was left with was a sense of isolation.
So my question - is menopause the final taboo?
Image: 'window voyeurism' .danica