The beauty of Lorraine Stove’s job as a supermarket merchandiser is that when she experiences hot flushes, she can head straight for the frozen food aisle. “You open the door and stick your head in,” the mother-of-two laughs. “You stick the whole top of your body in the fridge or in the back freezer to cool down.”
That’s one way Lorraine copes with the prickly heat that is spreading through her body during menopause. She and her friends refuse to let the physical milestone become a burden. Instead, they discuss the changes to their bodies during regular walk-and-talks.
As I join them on one of their weekly walks, all three middle-aged women agree that hot flushes are a common symptom, and that they can occur at awkward times. One year, Kathy Barr, an ophthalmic nurse with two adult children, was in the already scorching outback when hot flushes came so frequently she counted them.
“We were on holiday,” Kathy, 58, says. “I was having up to 30 hot flushes a day, each lasting about 20 seconds, and it was really, really unpleasant.”
At that stage, Kathy hadn’t told family or friends what she was experiencing. She felt the only way to work through the flushes was to keep track of how often they occurred. She considered seeing her GP for medication at the end of her holiday, but after three weeks the flushes subsided. “Life just goes on,” she says. “It’s just something you deal with.”
Lorraine, 61, says she used to feel incredibly self-conscious about her flushes. “I thought everyone knew I was having them,” she says.
“Yes,” adds Kathy, “but then I stood in front of the mirror a few times and realised nobody else can see or feel the heat.”
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