‘Your test results were very interesting.’ My gynaecologist looks up from the typed paper in front of him and smiles.
I smile back, an idiot grin with my heart beating overtime. ‘In what way?’
‘Well, you have no oestrogen.’
‘Here’s your results here.’ He points. ‘It’s so low as to be unregisterable, see? And here is the average for a man.’ He points to the information table on the right hand side of the page.
‘I didn’t even know men had oestrogen.’
‘Oh, yes. And more than you do. I have more oestrogen than you. Jeremy Corbyn has more oestrogen than you. Arnold Schwartznegger has more oestrogen than you. There’s a good chance you’ve had your menopause…’ he looks up at me again. ‘Although you don’t look like you’ve had a menopause.’
‘You don’t know what I looked like before,’ I reply, a little in shock. I’m 42 years old and Arnold Schwartznegger has more chance of getting pregnant than I do.
My gynae and me discuss the issue at some length to try and unravel the mystery. I had trouble conceiving at 34 and my family history is one with early menopauses casually sprinkled throughout, so it’s perfectly possible. The middle aged spread I can’t get rid of, the insomnia, the casual way in which I am prone to tears; it all points to some sort of hormonal breakdown. But my gynae is convinced I can’t possibly have had a menopause without noticing, and my normal, pre-menopausal FSH levels would back up that theory.
‘We’ll prescribe you some pills and pop a new coil in. If you feel like superwoman after a month and you don’t have breasts like bullets (cue mildly inappropriate hand gestures) then we’ll know we haven’t overcooked you and we’ll probably carry on with that and just keep an eye on things.’
‘How will I know if it was the menopause or not, then?’ I say.
‘If you have another menopause, it wasn’t the menopause,’ he says. ‘It’s about a 60/40 chance you’re through it.’
I leave the office a little shell shocked, wondering a) if my gynae is a stand up comedian in his spare time and b) if I’ve actually pulled off the menopause of the century. What if that’s it? I ponder. No night sweats, no hot flushes, vague forgetfulness, marriage still relatively intact…please GOD let that be it.
A month later, thanks to a big pile of pills (which, let’s not dress it up, it’s HRT), I’m feeling pretty superwoman-y. I’m running twice a week (which is a first in a lifelong history of exercise avoidance), I’m playing tennis, and I’m able to remember things much better than before. I’m running a business, parenting, and balancing a pretty hectic social life, and for the first time in a long time, I don’t feel permanently knackered. I realise I’m 42 and I don’t care if I’ve had my menopause. I try not to think too much about the scenario where I haven’t; I figure only time will tell, and if I feel good right now, then who cares?
I think about writing, because it’s what I do. I think about how I used to blog, and how much I enjoyed spending time on my thoughts once a week or so, to make sense of things that happen, be amused by life, or tackle a difficult issue. I tried to start another one a year ago, about being a middle aged feminist. But I realised, feminist though I am, I didn’t want to work within that particular remit. I wanted to do something that celebrated all the quirks and wonders of mid-life. Being in my forties is turning out to be miles more fun than my thirties, and infinitely more satisfying than being in my twenties. I’m wrinkly, a bit floppy and fat, but enjoying the ride. So I’ll write about that, I think.