The issue of menopause was once considered taboo for discussion. However, in contemporary society women are openly speaking out about 'the change', offering advice and assistance to those who have not yet been through that experience.
Flair spoke with two prominent and successful business women who were willing to share their menopause stories.
Kay Osborne is the president and CEO of Kay Osborne Associates Limited. Now in her post-menopausal stage, she tells Flair that her body has adjusted and is no longer affected by menopause. Jean Anderson-Wright is the owner of Signatures boutique on Dilcoosha Avenue and she tells Flair that even though she has passed the 60 mark that sometimes it can be triggered due to stress. Here's the full account of what the two ladies shared:
Flair (F): How was your experience with menopause?
Kay Osborne (KO): In terms of feeling and not understanding why it was uncomfortable ... the first person to understand that it was menopause was my husband who started to tease me. I visited the doctor and started reading about it. I had the symptoms that most women had, hot flashes, irritability, reduction in the period etc. Fortunately, my symptoms were not severe and it didn't become a big issue. It just happened to run its course until it eventually ended.
Jean Anderson-Wright (JAW): It was sudden. I started feeling depressed, getting hot flashes and feeling very miserable. Seeing that it wasn't my personality, I realised that some changes were happening. Having being a qualified nurse, I understood what was happening and I knew the steps to take to make the symptoms better.
F: What were some of things that you did to alleviate the symptoms?
KO: Exercise. I didn't use medication or such things, but I simply just resorted to living a healthy lifestyle. Proper exercise, rest, and a healthy diet.
JAW: Everybody's body reacts differently, but in my case it was bad enough for me to take it seriously and visit a specialist. I had to be put on hormone replacement therapy with the advice of my doctor, which made the symptoms much more manageable. Having a fan and pieces of tissue can help when it comes to the hot flashes as well as drinking lots of water and exercising and wearing breathable clothing. Layering also really helped.
F: In terms of articles of clothing that you wore, can you describe some of the items that you wore to alleviate the symptoms?
KO: It was easy for me because my own taste is towards natural fabrics and more simple materials. Now that I'm living in the tropics again, it is natural for me to wear cottons, linen, silks which absorb water and are cool and airy. I never wear clingy clothes and I rarely wear man-made fabrics that are uncomfortable. I remember entertaining in the winter once in Chicago and I heard my husband sharing out loud: "I think my wife is having her own personal summer," and we just all laughed at it.
JAW: It depends on the time of the year. In the summer I wear a lot of sleeveless dresses with material that can breathe made out of cotton mixes, linen mixes, knitted fabric to help keep cool. During the spring and winter months it's not so bad with the hot flashes but the depression and mood swings still persist ... I take care of that with the hormone treatment.
F: What advice would you give to women who are going through menopause:
KO: Just accept it as a natural part of the human living experience. Apparently, even men go through menopause, but one must deal with it as it unfolds itself, trying to just maintain a healthy body and a healthy response to it.
JAW: Listen to your body. You will feel that something isn't right, so you should visit a menopause specialist. In Jamaica there is, Dr Faye Whitborne and Dr Venice Wright, and they are certified menopause practitioners. They will be able to explain to you what is going on. Never give up your life. Just continue to live in the same way that you always have.
F: Do you think that there is any way to prepare for it?
KO: Information is the best preparation so that when the symptoms occur you know. Also, having good girlfriends is key. For me, it was great going through menopause with friends, who were in different states in America, as well as in Jamaica, because we could share experiences and remedies, and that is a very important tool to get through this natural human course of life.
JAW: Ladies start at different ages, so it's very hard to prepare. Some ladies start as early as in their 30s, but that's if you have had surgery procedures like a hysterectomy. People have it at different times for different reasons, so it is pretty difficult to prepare.