The menopause is very much in the public eye. Yet it can still be a taboo topic. Not everyone wants to discuss it with their family and friends, or even with their GP.
Most women get their last period around the age of 51, but hormone changes can start much earlier than this. Some women sail through this time of life, but others get troublesome symptoms – from hot flushes, sore joints and painful sex to moodiness, weight gain and sleepless nights.
No one should suffer in silence, so it’s important to seek help if you’re struggling to cope. There are lots of ways to ease menopausal symptoms, from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to herbal remedies and lifestyle changes. It’s a case of finding the right approach for you.
If you need a helping hand, books on the menopause can be a fantastic source of information and advice. They’ll reassure you that you’re not alone and support you through your menopause journey. And some may even make you laugh when you’re feeling particularly grumpy.
Useful websites with reliable information on the menopause include The Menopause Exchange (www.menopause-exchange.co.uk), My Menopause Doctor (www.menopausedoctor.co.uk) and Menopause Matters (www.menopausematters.co.uk).
Having a bad day and need to boost your mood? Then grab yourself a copy of Older and Wider by Jenny Éclair. This isn’t a medical guide to the menopause, but it’s certainly entertaining and uplifting, filled with Jenny’s trademark wit, cynicism and honesty. I laughed my way through it.
Still Hot! by Kaye Adams & Vicky Allan is another book that made me laugh out loud. The diverse stories made me feel like I was sitting in a coffee shop chatting to good friends about how the menopause has affected their day-to-day lives. This is a book that I’ll certainly be reading again!
If you’re looking for health information on the menopause, check out The Complete Guide to the Menopause by Dr Annice Mukherjee (Vermilion). This ‘menopause toolkit’ covers a wide range of menopause topics, from diet, exercise and HRT to stress, bone health and managing your sleep. I don’t think there’s anything it doesn’t cover!
And of course, whether you watched the recent Davina McCall programme on Channel 4 or not, you have to get your hands on the new book Menopausing. Over 70 women have contributed their experiences to the book and it's a book you wish you'd read before.
The M Word by Dr Philippa Kaye (Summersdale) is yet another straight-talking and highly comprehensive guide to the menopause. It’s packed full of practical information about symptoms, management, relationships and long-term health, and features real stories from real women.
The perimenopause is the time leading up to the moment your periods stop. This is when you get the troublesome symptoms, and it usually lasts for a few years. The Perimenopause Solution by Dr Shahzadi Harper & Emma Bardwell (Vermilion) is full of practical advice and reassuring case studies to tell you everything you may want and need to know about the perimenopause.
Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill (Green Tree) is another useful reference book to help you choose the right management approach for you. There’s a lot packed into its pages, with a strong emphasis on diet and lifestyle, and there’s a useful discussion of the pros and cons of HRT.
If you’re struggling to remain calm and in control, Mindful Menopause by hypnotherapist Sophie Fletcher (Vermilion) may be the answer. This book focuses on mindfulness and hypnosis to help you manage your menopausal feelings and ease common symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and hot flushes.
Just as your body changes at the menopause, your sex life can too – but it’s not something people really talk about. Great Sex Starts at 50 by Tracey Cox (Murdoch Books) is an engaging and practical look at ways to boost your sex life and age-proof your libido, whether you’re single or in a relationship. No taboos in here!
The menopause affects everyone everywhere, in all walks of life. M-Boldened: Menopause Conversations We All Need to Have, edited by Caroline Harris (Flint Books) is a collection of personal stories looking at how the menopause is viewed in different societies and cultures and how it can be a human rights issue across the globe. While this book won’t help you deal with your menopausal symptoms, it will certainly make you think about the wider issues.
For feel-good fiction to help uplift and entertain, The Wife Who Got A Life by Tracy Bloom is a LoveReadng Star Book and our expert reviewer Liz Robinson says she would "describe it as a wonderfully smart and joyous celebration of life [...] it lifts you up while remaining completely aware of the sharp reality of life.".
Georgie Hall's Woman of a Certain Rage is a warm and engaging novel that focuses on the navigation of family life throughout the menopause. "She takes the menopause years and runs with it, with laughter, warmth, and most of all empathy. She explores family life with teens and parents while maintaining a career, a relationship and home-life while the menopause is on the rampage." declares Liz Robinson, while also ensuring this book was a July Book of the Month and a Star Book.