In our Parting Shot series, readers share their experiences of expat life in Hong Kong. Here, KATIE MORTLOCK shares her thoughts on turning 50, menopause and HRT treatment!
I hit the big 5-0 in January 2020. While I embraced previous milestone birthdays with gusto, turning 50 hit me hard. For the first time in my life, I felt genuinely old. I’d already embraced the grey hair, the frown lines and the smile wrinkles, but it was the other changes that were much less welcome. The changes in my metabolism were suddenly noticeable. I could no longer eat and drink whatever I liked and still maintain a healthy weight. Clothes began to feel tight around the middle, and I began to avoid half of my wardrobe.
The dreaded menopause
Worse still, I had been ignoring the subtle changes in my body that should’ve raised flags. That would explain why I was always so hot and sweaty, when before I’d been proud of being thoroughly acclimatised to certain seasons and not really noticing the heat too much. I ignored the very obvious symptoms for a year or two before finally succumbing and talking to my doctor about the dreaded menopause.
“Have you been experiencing night sweats?” she asks. “Well, I get a bit hot and sweaty, but then I feel OK again,” I answer, trying to pretend this isn’t the very definition of night sweats. This is followed by questions of a significantly personal nature that I’m definitely not going to repeat here. Needless to say, I hedge for a bit before finally admitting that yes, I am experiencing other symptoms too.
My doctor is reassuring. “This is completely normal in your 50s. It looks like you’re experiencing menopause symptoms.” I’ve been denying the obvious for quite some time now, but it still felt like a gut punch. I have to accept the fact that I am now truly getting old. My doctor was really comforting and quick to point out there are good, safe HRT treatments available, without the scary side effects that forced our mothers off HRT a few decades ago.
I’ve been on HRT for just over a month now, and I’m regretting not tackling these problems sooner. Within two weeks the hot, sweaty nights were gone. I also had a lot more energy, and those personal issues had resolved themselves. I’ve actually begun to feel like my old self again.
I don’t know why I had ignored it, and pretended it wasn’t happening for such a long time. Turning 50 involves so many negative emotions about getting old, that it’s easy to try and pretend it isn’t really happening. I’m glad I took the step of talking to my doctor and starting treatment for menopause. It’s already made a big improvement, and I wish I’d tackled it sooner. I feel like I’ve taken a major step towards embracing my 50s.
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This article first appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.
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