The Childless Menopause

Gloria Steinem on age

I turned 50 earlier this year which was a cause for celebration amongst my family and friends. However, when I officially became ‘post-menopausal’ the year before, nobody wanted to know.

In our youth (read: fertility) obsessed culture, becoming post-menopausal means the end of bearing a biological child and, it seems, the official beginning of your pointlessness and invisibility as an older woman. But, it seems, just as in other stages of my ‘failure’ to become a mother, I don’t fully buy into this cultural narrative of my worthlessness. And maybe even the ‘invisibility’ might work to my advantage too, as it gives me the space to focus on what’s important to me, freed from the need to ‘fit in’.

For me, my menopause came ‘early’ (by my reckoning, although statistically it was just 2 years earlier than the ‘average’ of 51) although in my general ignorance about all aspects of my fertility, it had been going on for years before I realised. The first big shock for me was that ‘the menopause’ isn’t really the difficult bit at all – it’s the eight to ten years that precede it that are the hardest! When I missed that first period at 39, I put it down to stress and I continued to miss one period a year for the next four years and put those down to stress, hormone problems (I thought it was my thyroid), jet-lag and a fantasy pregnancy. I knew that my fertility was winding down once I passed 40, but I didn’t really understand any more than that. I didn’t realise that the ship had probably sailed a long time earlier.

Jody Day (centre) speaking at Fertility Myths, WOW 2014
Jody Day (centre) speaking at Fertility Myths, WOW 2014 (Women of the World Festival)

In March 2014 I curated a panel discussion called Fertility Myths at the Women of the World Festival (WOW2014) on London’s Southbank. It brought together four women chaired by Kate Brian: myself, Jessica Hepburn, IVF survivor of 11 rounds and still hopeful (read her book, it’s amazing!), Zita West (an ex-midwife and one of the most well-known names in the baby-making business) and Dr Susan Bewley, Professor of Complex Obstetrics at Kings College London. Dr Bewley gave a short presentation on some well-known ‘fertility myths’ complete with charts and diagrams, showing how the declining quality of a woman’s eggs and the likely increase of miscarriage meet at around 41. She also explained that if women were to know how old their mothers were when they ‘completed’ their menopause (one year after last period) and then took 10 years off that age, that was probably the age of their last viable egg.

The room went silent as about 150 women in their late thirties and forties did some mental arithmetic. Me too: it meant that by the time I’d missed that first period at 39, it was already, most likely, game over for me. I was in the peri-menopause and, bang on Dr Bewley’s ‘ten years’, I had my last period at 48 and so was considered ‘post-menopausal’ at 49.  It saddened me to think how differently I would have behaved in those first few years post-divorce at 38 when I was on a mission to meet someone and ‘do IVF’ had I known more about the menopause. I imagine that I would have made a lot of different decisions about finances, career and relationships. Better decisions. I would have bought a home immediately after my divorce, instead of waiting for ‘my next husband’ to buy it with and wouldn’t have ended up priced out of the UK housing market. I would have focused on writing not dating. I would have demanded more and put up with less. Ah, hindsight eh?!

When I was diagnosed with ‘advanced peri-menopause’ at 46, my GP thought it was a ‘brainwave’ that I’d asked to be tested – I’d been seeing her for 6-months looking for help with high-anxiety, depression, hot flushes, sleep problems and mood disturbances but it was only after a holiday with some older women that I found out that my symptoms suggested peri-menopause. My doctor was a woman in her late 30s yet she seemed to know practically nothing of the symptoms I was experiencing… When I later asked her, she admitted that she’d had very little training at medical school about the menopause apart from the associated risks of breast cancer with HRT. Can you imagine a GP getting no training on puberty for example? The menopause is something that happens to every woman and is as complex as puberty and doctors receive practically no training! I can’t help feeling that if all men experienced the menopause too there’d be more time devoted to understanding it… (And yes, there is a form of male menopause called Andropause but as yet, either not all men experience it or admit to it so there’s little understanding of that too).

As I started to explore the available laypersons’  literature around menopause in an effort to educate myself and help other Gateway Women understand what they were going through I came across a real problem – so much of it is written by women who are mothers and includes a great deal on dealing with your children as they enter puberty and you are entering menopause, or maintaining sexual activity with your husband and dealing with retirement and grandchildren.  Even though I’m through my grief over my childlessness these books were often either triggering or just plain annoying! Not all of us going through the menopause are mothers! Not all of us are heterosexual! Not all of us have partners! Not all of us can afford to retire!

So I’ve decided that we need to create our own guide – one that also includes a section on the deep existential rite-of-passage passage that is coming to terms the end of our genetic line.

I call the childless menopause a ‘death you survive’ as it’s the end of our biological line as well as the end of our dream of motherhood. It can be a real dark night of the soul. And the transformations of passing through this ‘gateway’ can be profound and rather wonderful.

This article is the first in a series that I intend to write over the next 12 months about the childless menopause and I’d like to ask for your input.

What are the issues that you’d like to see covered? Here are a few ideas:

  • What stories about your peri-menopause or menopause would you like to share?
  • What do you wished you’d known earlier?
  • What facts about the menopause have come as a surprise?
  • How did/do you get your information about menopause?
  • Do you feel able to talk about your experience of menopause with others?
  • Did your mother ever talk to you about the menopause?
  • How is menopause affecting your sexuality and does it feel possible to talk about that?
  • What resources have you found that have been helpful (and unhelpful)?
  • How are you dealing with some of the physical changes of menopause?
  • How are you coping with the existential issues around never being a mother?
  • How supported have you been with early or surgical menopause by the medical profession?
  • How do you feel about yourself as a woman embarking on menopause?
  • HRT, bio-identicals or herbs – what’s right for you and do you know enough?
  • What plans are you making about ageing without children or are you paralysed by fear on this issue?
  • What do you think of the cultural silencing and shaming of women (particularly childless women) as Elders in our society?
  • And of course, what ROCKS about menopause?!

For me, the thing I love most about being post-menopausal is that I’ve got a clarity of thinking and emotional steadiness that I don’t remember having since before puberty. I feel bold and adventurous again, although now I’m more interested in social change than tree climbing (although I don’t rule out taking up rock-climbing!) Although I still enjoy the company of men, having an intimate relationship with a man is no longer the focus of my life.

I feel like I gave 30 years of my life (15-45) to mankind, and now I’d like to give the rest of my life to womankind! I have been celibate, more or less for five years now (there she goes breaking yet another taboo!) and they’ve been the five most creative, productive and peaceful of my adult life… I don’t rule out another relationship in the future, but it’ll be on very different terms to any I’ve had before. The doormat has left the building!

Please share your stories, fears, joys, questions and whatever you like in the comments below. I’m going to be putting together a structure for the articles going forward and I’d love to know what you’d like to read and what you’d like to say. Thank you.

***

Jody Day PortraitJody Day is the Founder of Gateway Women and the author of #1 Amazon best-seller ‘Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Life Without Children’. She set up the Gateway Women friendship and support network in 2011 to support, inspire and empower childless-not-by-choice women as they develop meaningful and fulfilling lives without children. She runs private sessionsworkshops and retreats for women coming to terms with the fact that motherhood didn’t happen for them as well as private meetup groups in the UK & Ireland, EuropeUSACanadaAustraliaNZ and South Africa as well as thriving private online community.  She speaks regularly in public, in the media and online about issues and prejudices facing childless women in our society today and is becoming known as ‘the voice of the childless generation’. 

About Jody 84 Articles
Jody Day is a British author, trainee integrative psychotherapist and the founder of Gateway Women, the global friendship and support network for childless women. She’s a founding member at AWOC.org (Ageing without Children) and a former Fellow in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School. She's the author of 2016’s 'Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children' (Bluebird/PanMacmillan). Gateway Women hosts online communities, workshops, retreats, courses, social events and private sessions for childless-not-by-choice women. Jody lives alone in London with her cat, a stereotype that she warmly and humorously subverts.
Contact: Website

106 Comments on The Childless Menopause

  1. I hope its not too late to respond – I have only just found this article:

    What stories about your peri-menopause or menopause would you like to share? I am 49 and know I have been peri-menopause since fertility treatment at 43. I have endometriosis and had long regular periods.
    What do you wished you’d known earlier? That it might not be all terrible! I have been waiting to turn into a monster since peri – I don’t think I have yet.
    What facts about the menopause have come as a surprise? I knew nothing of the peri stage and I didn’t know that the menopause only actually lasts for 1 day. The day after 12 months period free.
    How did/do you get your information about menopause? Internet searches – nothing from GP.
    Do you feel able to talk about your experience of menopause with others? Yes
    Did your mother ever talk to you about the menopause? Only in a very negative way – the monster effect. She complained of hot flushes and went on HRT in late 40s and stayed on it till she was 70 ish. She thinks everyone should take HRT as soon as they have symptoms! I never talk to her about menopause – her empathy (lack of) around my infertility means she is the last person I would discuss it with.
    How is menopause affecting your sexuality and does it feel possible to talk about that? I seem to have a lower than normal sex drive nowadays it was never very high – i put it down to the endometriosis. I’m lucky with an understanding husband. I wish I had a higher sex drive however. I’ve had a lot of thrush (twice a month), I hope this stops with the periods.
    What resources have you found that have been helpful (and unhelpful)? I’m only just looking for resources.
    How are you dealing with some of the physical changes of menopause? I had mild flushes on and off for 6 years and my periods are lighter and sometimes shorter and occasionally longer. I only had one episode of really major hot flushes coming on and off daily and nightly for 6 weeks. Then they stopped – about a year ago. I just had a period that lasted 3 weeks. I would like to know if I am over the worst of it or if more is to come – flushes etc. Having had HRT with 7 fertility cycles that did not lead to a baby the idea of taking it now to induce periods and help with the menopause just really irritates me and I don’t want to take it.
    How are you coping with the existential issues around never being a mother? Been trying to come to terms for so many years – I think I’ve numbed out and I’m a bit – stuff it stage.
    How supported have you been with early or surgical menopause by the medical profession? N/A
    How do you feel about yourself as a woman embarking on menopause? I think I’ve been scared because its menopausal without children – I’m afraid of the ghosts rearing their head.
    HRT, bio-identicals or herbs – what’s right for you and do you know enough? I know little about any – I hope not to take HRT but don’t want to be irritable etc. I’ve been angry and irritable over infertility for so many years I want to be calmer in my 50s and ROCK!
    What plans are you making about ageing without children or are you paralysed by fear on this issue? Not making any plans but will follow your site for support. I no longer fear it like I did a few years ago. I used to hoard stuff – now I throw everything away!
    What do you think of the cultural silencing and shaming of women (particularly childless women) as Elders in our society? I don’t buy into it anymore – I speak out more if I have opinions. I will not be silenced.
    And of course, what ROCKS about menopause?! The thought one day that I will not have monthly reminders of what I couldn’t achieve and what I have lost. I also think it might well be the menopause that is giving me courage and making me want to grab life and live it like I never lived it before!

    Thank you Jody for this site and the articles you bring here. Menopause and growing old without children have been my biggest fears and reading these posts and your work gives me hope for the future.

  2. I am in my mid forties and reckon I’ve been perimenopausal for several years. I have no children and yes people have been cruel and thoughtless but I try not to identify myself by this one aspect of my life. I believe there is so much more to me. I spent much of my lives critising myself for not living up to some imaginary benchmark or not been good enough or not been pretty. I wasted years having a complex, making wrong decisions and feeling sorry for myself. I often laugh at myself and wish I had the knowledge I have now. I look back on photos and realise I wasn’t quarter as ugly as I thought I was. Why did I waste time dragging myself down. I often say to myself I hope I don’t look back on my 40s when I in my 60s and feel I’ve repeated life all over again with self pity and wasting time. Don’t get me wrong I have days when I doubt myself but I don’t want to be labelled or identify myself as a perimenopausal woman who sits at home drinking wine. I’m just Mary, who is going through the very natural cycle of life like all previous generations. The menopause is just part of the natural cycle of life. We can’t stop it so we need to learn to live with it, not identify ourselves by it. We can’t control the cruel comments of others we can only control our our decisions. Believe me I know. I ve made bad choices and I have a list of excuses and circumstances but ultimately my choice for the bad situations I ended up in. I live each day one by one and try to enjoy it. I surround myself with positive confident women who see themselves beyond looks and natural changes. I didn’t listen when I was a teenager right up to been 40 to those women who were older. I want to listen now and not waste this precious life on dreading things we can’t control. I listen to women in their 70s and 80s who wish for all I have now. We are more than the menopause. I’m not sailing through this phase of my life but it doesn’t identify who I am. I have to remind myself of this and know I will have tough days. I guess huge losses in my life have made me realize how lucky I actually am.

  3. Hi there, thanks for the article. I am curious if you have any research or studies to back up this claim? “if women were to know how old their mothers were when they ‘completed’ their menopause (one year after last period) and then took 10 years off that age, that was probably the age of their last viable egg.” Im aware that menopause is not just one event that happens one day but a process that can indeed take place over up to a decade before a woman’s last bleed, but I have never heard the claim that her last viable egg would be around this time. I think thats a bold claim, would love some resources to back that up. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Jen, the information came in a presentation from Prof Dr Susan Bewley at the ‘Fertility Myths’ debate I write about above. There is no written material to support it and, sadly, the event was not recorded that year!

  4. Hello everyone! I am Mandy. I am 48 years old. I was born without a uterus. Yep, that’s right no uterus at all. I have my ovaries thank God! I have no way of telling exactly when I have my “cycle” or don’t have it. It was hard to deal with as a teenager because all of my girlfriends were getting their periods and I lied about it and said I got mine too. Then as I got older and my friends were having babies I chose not to be around them anymore. It was too hard for me to be around pregnant women and babies. As I grew older I would disappear around mothers day which was hard on my mother but she understood. My mother had emergency surgery to remove her uterus due to some complications when I was in my early 20’s. Her mother passed away when I was very young so I don’t have any history of for menopause in my family. I saw a doctor earlier this year to do blood work to see if I was menopausal or was having any thyroid problems but the blood work came out normal. I’ve been having anxiety and sleepless nights so I thought checking my hormones would be the best thing. Now that they have come back normal I’m not sure what to think. I’ve seen a counselor she said I needed to focus on positive things rather than negative things. It has helped some. If anyone else out there was born without a uterus and has gone through menopause please reply and let me know of your experiences.

    Thanks!
    Mandy

  5. I stumbled across this group, yesterday my dearest friend announced she will be a grandmother. Today, all my heartache over not being able to have a child has resurfaced. I am 53, going through menopause, with all the bells and whistles associated with it. Some days good, some barely tolerable.

    I thought that with menopause I closed that chapter in my life, with the passage of time the grieving over being childless has become a little less acute. I no longer shed tears when going past a school or playground.

    But today I am reminded that I will never be a grandmother either. Fresh tears for what I will never have.

    Mothers day is hard for me, as is Fathers day – I feel pain for my husband as his brother has just become a grandfather.

    Some of the comments about being the end of the genetic line have hit me particularly hard. I feel I have let my parents and my husband down, by not being able to have children. Don’t misunderstand, my husband and my parents have grieved along with me, but that doesn’t stop how I feel.

    I have a lot of good answers for the childless questions now, I can even sound convincing – this is important, because it means the conversation doesn’t become awkward. My favourite is we have fur babies…. 2 dogs instead!

    But some days, just some days…. I fall apart inside. I don’t see it coming like today.

    I will not be a shrinking violet, I will not age gracefully, I will continue to take the bull by the horns and get on with it. I have not and will never be a quitter. Be it good or bad, this is my life without children.

    These stories have helped me to know I am not alone and that my experiences are shared.

  6. I am now 54, never married, childless and experiencing the final closure of my cycle. Had fibroids, thyroid problem and taking care of my widowed mother’s depression, her grief and has not coped since the loss of my Dad. Grieved my childlessness including the loss of my father who I considered my best friend. All my friends and cousins are now mothers so the emotional pain has been deeply felt. Now having come through this decade, I still have to endure my competitive sister in law purposely commenting at family functions, after having divulged my inner thoughts to her. Big mistake. I am astounded how mean people really can be. I console myself though because clearly if they were sincerely happy and content with their lives, they would not have to hurt me so deeply unless they are not happy with their own lives. If I can take anything out of my journey, it has made me a more enlightened and compassionate person and that my life has meaning and everything was meant to be exactly the way it unfolded. Hope this does not sound too emotional but great to have found this site for support.

    • Hi Karina – thanks for commenting – definitely not ‘too emotional’! You’re amongst kind and understanding company here! Welcome, Jody x

  7. I never wanted children, spent all of my child bearing years terrified of getting pregnant, my mother had her only child (me) at age 44 and a half, thinking she was ‘safe’ as she thought she was going through the ‘change’. I was told when I was 11 and started my periods that I’d be thrown out onto the street if ever I got pregnant and that men would only ever want me for ‘one thing’ , which experience has taught me is sadly true. I am also still a virgin, probably because of the terror associated with the thought of getting pregnant. I am still going through the menopause, that is having hot flushes, ten years after starting it. I am 63 now and had my last period at age 54. up until that time, I looked so young I never thought I’d have to worry about looking old, but within a very short time of starting the menopause I appeared to age about 30 yrs. Went from looking young to old in one foul swoop, and had never been referred to as middle aged, always young, and suddenly being referred to as old. Nothing prepared me for that. I always believed that eating organic food mainly fruit & veg would mean no unpleasant symptons, how wrong I was! I’ve managed it myself, I stay away from doctors, have had things they regard as no cure for and proved there is, but even though the worst of the hot flushes are gone now, I hate everything about the aging process. Even though I can still make myself look young with make up and having very long hair which helps, and dressing young, (though not ridiculously so) I can create the ‘illusion’ of youth, but that’s all it is, an illusion. You smell different, you walk different, more waddle y, if that is even a word, cannot walk fast anymore no matter how i try, and even though the same person inside, get treated differently, especially by men. Women are nicer to me now, as they probably just look and think ‘poor old thing’ whereas up to menopause a lot of women were never very nice to me as probably saw me as some sort of rival to them, which I never saw myself as. I like the sweet sugary type of perfumes, but sadly now, they often end up smelling like typical old lady cologne, I’m developing an ‘old lady’ aroma which I am paranoid about after first noticing it. looking old does not suit the person I am, my tastes and interests are for things that mainly young ppl like, vocaloids, anime, MMD videos, Shopkins for goodness sake! Not stair lifts and funeral plans and all the other paraphernalia that come through the door and started as soon as I approached the age of fifty. I know nature has no interest in keeping me looking attractive now, and is actively doing everything it can to make me look and smell and walk as unattractive as possible in case, heaven forbid, someone of the opposite sex might still find me attractive.
    I also have heard it more than once by men that not only that “no man wants a bloody old woman over fifty” but “all women should be killed as soon as they get to thirty”. This, from the one and only friend have, a man 18 yrs older than me, who is bitter that he never got what he wanted from me, (sex) but trapped me in a situation I can’t get out of, because of poverty, isolation, no support from authorities, an evil landlord who bought the house I lvie in with me in it, didn’t even tell me , said he didn’t have to as he owned me like he owned the house, get told he is a freemason and has loads of influence locally so that is why he has got away with breaking the law many times towards me, but i am the one treated like a criminal for trying to get legal help, and thy turned out to be working against me for his side because of his connections and scared to go against him by defending me. Also battling with psoriasis as under EU rules can no longer buy the product I safely used for years which cleared it in three day,s get it on my face and chest mainly so right where ppl can see it. But it usually gets a lot better in summer so hopeful about that. Even though I can look a lot younger though, I want to look myself again, I want to know I look attractive, not just ‘good for my age’. I miss being admired. I used to marvel at how I looked so young, especially given all the stress I’ve been under for all of my life, high blood pressure which I also manage myself with herbal remedies, most of the conditions I have are stress related, always been bullied, at home by my mother, at school for 10 yrs by gangs o girls andd now by this friend, and by the landlord, even get picked on in the street walking home at night because i can’t walk properly and I…. Have to stop now, I don’t want to write my life story here but feel as though I am doing, so will stop writing now. I doubt anyone will even read this.

    • I read it and know exactly where you coming from. My experience pretty much runs along those lines. My periods haven’t fully stopped yet but it’s coming and right now all I want to do is run away and join the UN and maybe somehow things will feel better in a war zone. Dunno.

  8. Hi! I found this place by accident (or, better said, by chance) and couldn’t stop myself from reading all the comments. I’m 48 and I’m from Romania, don’t hold me in contempt (since I am well aware that there is a wave of hate toward Romanians nowadays). I live in my own country and I have no intention to ever live anywhere else – sorry for the digression. My mother hit menopause at the age of 52 ( may she rest in peace) and she was a professional midwife. Fortunately for me, we don’t have this motherhood craziness in my country, probably due to the fact that the communist regime imposed a law by which abortion in any stage and any kind of birth control were strictly forbidden. Women were under a state of terror starting with the first menstruation, we all lived in fear for it and were constantly under stress – men and women. There used to be impromptu gynecological check-ups in schools and workplaces, where they would herd us like cattle and line us up for control. It was nerve wrecking and inhumane. Baby making was forced on us for the ‘benefit’ of the homeland, they said. Therefore, the possibility of being pregnant was dreaded. There was a forced baby boom in the late 60s and early 70s, I belong to that generation and although I was a wanted child, I paid my dues for tha, we were called ‘decree brats’. The aftermath of that decree was that people started to look for way of working around the decree, i.e. the forced childbirth law. Many women resorted to illegal abortion performed by nonprofessionals in improper conditions and thousands of women died horrible deaths on account of infection and lack of treatment and there were many children left without a mother and, on many occasions, without a father, as fathers often hightailed when left alone to raise their children. As for my mother, she did her best to help women professionally with their unwanted pregnancies and she went to JAIL for it. So, the point is that me and my generation of women never felt the burden of being expected to have children. Many had children, many didn’t and they were not blamed for that. I am childless by choice and I have NO regret whatsoever for it. I am a PERSON, I am an individual part of this world and, therefore important by this mere fact. I am in charge of living MY life which nobody can do for me and in my place. I have a responsibility AND an obligation to live my life to the fullest, since another human being – my mother – sacrificed a big partt of her body and her life to bring me into this world. ‘Make the best of your life and be happy, whatever way of living it you choose’, my mother told me. Being specialized in gynecology, my mother talked to me about all aspects of a woman’s life, including menopause, and I witnessed it taking place with her. She had no qualms with it, so to speak, and as a result, I don’t either. It’s a normal thing in our lives. I think I’ll hit mine around the same age as her, because usually daughters inherit that trait from their mothers. Usually. But it doesn’t bother me, whenever it may be. About the fact that women without children get it earlier, I’m not so sure it has any influence, most of my friends who had children hit menopause in their early 40s, whereas I, who didn’t have children, haven’t hit it just yet. My friends who are menopausal have the same life as before, nobody regards them differently, nothing has changed for them, neither for the ones with children, nor for the ones without. In my country nobody has any issues as to who will take care of them in their old age, we are used to taking each day as it comes, old couples (or single people) don’t really expect anybody to take care of them, and most of them live by themselves whether they have children or not. Maybe it’s because we don’t have an established system of senior citizen care, we’re not used to it and for us normality is to take care of ourselves to the last day, so we don’t bother about it too much. So, to end this rather long intervention, I want to say that there is no problem with menopause, there is nothing to it if you are comfortable and satisfied with the human being that you are, and I don’t see and don’t understand why the women-fellows here stress yourselves so much. You’ve come to depend too much on what men think and comply too much with the societal patterns. Only YOU can change them, only YOU give them power, only YOU can do or undo them. As for me, I in the middle of my life, I’m not about to throw the other half of it away and wallow. I have so much to do, to see, to feel and I’m looking forward to it!!!!

    • Thank you Ana, your different society and life expectations are a refreshing way for me to look at being childless as I am up in the throes of menopause.
      I believe that we sometimes impose our own assumptions of what people are thinking or their expectations, and it simply makes the whole experience more miserable. I mistook my own grief for another woman’s judgement.
      I am sad that I couldn’t get pregnant, and when I say this out loud to my nurse colleagues they mourn with me and show compassion.
      “Society rules” Aren’t written down anywhere and I long for all people to find their own identity and enjoy the life they have now, right now. ( I’m 49 and only just finding it! Yippee)

  9. Hi to all,
    Everyone’s stories are so different and yet so relatable. I am not one to join in blogs, but your openness gives me the strength to share my experience. Not sure where to begin as I am unsure about where I am. I am 49, married, no kids by choice, MBA but no job partly by choice, had migraines my whole life so those are nothing new, never taken birth control, started my period when I was 9. When I married 9 years ago, I gave up my career to move to join my husbands life. Most of the time, I have loved not working but feel guilted into feeling like I am not contributing to society(not by my husband), the same way I have been judged, questioned and and made to fear my choice to not have children. People who have them judge and people who can’t have them judge. Either way, the past 30 years of my life have been filled with people trying to make me fill less than I could be, but I have few regrets.

    Then this month comes and I feel like the bottom dropped out of my life! Looking back, the only symptoms I’ve had are headaches (no more than usual),a heavier and shorter period this past year and the past few months I started leaking urine but nothing prepared me for missing my period this month! My first thought was that I was pregnant, but that’s not it. I have had mild cramps and tender breasts for weeks now, but no period. After the P word was eliminated I started considering the M word. It has left me feeling lost. I am a happy person with a good life, and yet I am now second guessing my choices these past 30 years. Should I have had kids, should I have stopped working, will anyone ever hire me now that I am “on the shelf”, am I even capable of working with impending brain fog and forgetfulness, is this the beginning of the end, will sex change, will I get cancer now, should I start taking supplements, will my naturally thin hair get thinner, what should I do? I have always been in control of my life and now I just feel lost.

    Am I starting peri-menopause or is this the start of menopause? What is to come? I tried to talk to my one friend who still had her female organs and is 47, but all I got was “wow, I hope I don’t have to think about that for a long time”, then she changed the subject. I don’t want to tell my husband because I’m afraid if I get mad about something he will just now blow it off as “the change” is causing it. I overheard one of his coworkers talking about his wife, who was going through the change, and that guy said “all women should be ‘put down’ when they turn 50”. Is that what everyone thinks? If so, I can see why no one talks about it and why I feel the need to hide it.
    This whole thing makes me want kids I never wanted only because it seems so final and I am shocked at how hard and fast my self esteem/self worth has been hit. Any words of guidance and advice is very welcome.

    Thank you all, and especially Jody, for providing a place to be honest and open with our lives.

    Kim

    • Hi Kim – thanks for your comment and I’m so sorry that your friend was so incredibly unhelpful! Menopause is a taboo yes, but I have to say I’ve never heard that shocking comment that ‘women should be put down at 50’. Wow, what a misogynistic asshole! I won’t kid you, the process of navigating our new societally imposed identity as being ‘on the shelf’ requires deep inner strength – at just the time when are hormones are all over the place – so it’s not easy, but it can be done. I suggest that you educate yourself about how you can support yourself practically and emotionally through the physical/emotional changes and then also seek out role models as to how YOU want your later mid-life to look/feel. The book I recommend has a terrible title, but please don’t let it put you off! It’s called ‘Goddesses Never Age’ by Dr Christiane Northrup and is a very comprehensive guide to both natural and pharmaceutical support. Another writer who really helped (and helps) me is Jean Shinoda Bolen. I recommend ‘Goddesses in Older Women’ as a starter. I will be writing my own book on the topic when I get a chance! Hugs again, Jody x

  10. Well, the thing I dreaded most has finally happened. My period has stopped for the last 3 months. I always felt that it would happen to me very late in life, and thru my 40’s with regular periods, felt that would be true. i was going to be the miracle woman who did not go thru menopause until 70! I would not allow anyone in my house to use the M word. I was indestructible, I am woman, hear me roar!

    But here i am, 52 childless due to circumstance, which i won’t get into now, and I am at a loss. Every thing seems meaningless, work, myself, relationships, what’s the point. My life has been a waste. I probably would have been a great mother, why, because the same temperament i use on my pets, very calming and loving is one i would have used on children. Plus my parents were my best friends and let me make mistakes but always helped me understand why they were mistakes. Youth is wasted on the young.

    In our youth obsessed society, i am now on the other side, when did this happen? Even tho, we probably would not have children, the choice now is completely out of my hands. I cannot afford IVF, and i did not freeze any of my eggs in my Kenmore. I cannot even speak to my mother about this as she lost her battle with Breast cancer 13 years ago and before that had a hysterectomy. I’ve been inconsolable for 3 days when i had to face facts. I don’t want to leave the house as I feel I look old! If i sink, my husband is sure to sink,so i cannot even grief.

    I never wanted to go thru pregnancy, was afraid and did not find it glamourous, but could have adopted. Why did’nt we? Well my husband is a manic depressive and that does not look acceptable on adoption forms. Additionally, my husband is a child, and i am the main breadwinner. Do u think he’d take care of a child, i don’t. My mother warned me to never have children with him. Again, notch one up for mom!

    I work with mostly men and any sign of aging is tantamount to saying, ohoh, she’s senile. So i always have to be on my toes, look the height of fashion and youngish and nade up, and right now, I don’t want to. I don’t want to waste my remaining time sitting in an office while the rest of my life passes me by. I’ve done that for 30 years. It’s enough and i dont have that drive anymore to be the best, and honestly i’ve not had it for 5 years. I am BORED by my job. But since it is the only game in town that pays me enought to live with my “husband/boyfriend” and my sister, i have to keep at it. What the hell kind of life is that for me?

    I’m afraid of being old, vulnerable and dumped into a nursing home. Like many of u, my “friends” have children and conversation always resorts back to that. They are not real frienships, it’s more of my child vs. your child competition. They r aquantices, and ones i could do without. BORING!!!!!!!! Noone is going to be checking if I am treated well, or if medication is working or worse, abused by young nurse staff. I’ll be taken advantage of if i have any money when that time comes.

    And guess what, this is me on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety, so that’s another farce, i do see a therapist once a month(that’s all my ins. covers for) and we recently started talking about this.

    Finally, here is my favorite question at every doctor i visit….Are you still getting your period or, when is the last time you had you period. Shoot me!

    Sorry for the length, but i am having a meltdown
    Hope to hear from you

    Anita

    • Hi Anita and thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. I’m sorry you’re ‘having a meltdown’ today; sometimes that’s really the only sane response to some of the pain that being childless (and menopausal) can entail, and I’ve certainly had a few in my time! The fear of ageing without children is a very real one, hence my involvement as a Founding Member at http://www.awoc.org (Ageing Without Children). We’re a UK based campaigning and support group for adults ageing without children, and if you’re in the UK, you can join/start a local group and everyone is welcome to join our closed Facebook group too. I’m not sure if you’re a member of the GW Online Community, but I hope you’ll join us there where you’ll find an oasis of sanity in our mother, baby & youth obsessed society! http://www.gateway-women.com/community
      Hugs, Jody x

      • Thanks for replying. Its such a scary inbetween time for me. I did join the online community. I googled for menopause without children or something to that effect and your support group was the only one i could find. I’m in the US, and was surprised that we don’t have one, but very glad I found yours! The said thing too on all this is there is still such a stigma if a women chooses or cannot have children. It’s as if we are not natural. But there is a reason for everything and my destiny or fate does not include children. So be it. Im just glad i found a comminity i can vent my fears and questions as I go thru this next stage of life. I also ordered your book and am looking forward to reading that.

  11. Thank u for this enlightenment….this describes me to a T. I’m 49 and childless…had 2 marriages…one in my 20’s and one in my 30’s and both failed becos I couldn’t come up with the goods…(children I mean)…and i would have loved to have children….Despite going to see GP, there was no suggestions offered for my problem..just given a blank look…no help given…now I’m 49, I feel totally abandoned by society cos I don’t fit in to its expectations of a woman of my age….I definitely relate to the idea of invisibility and pointlessness…..I feel I have been put on the scrap heap of life….and yeah it is so true….lots of my married friends don’t invite me to gatherings cos they see me as a threat to their existence..being 49..menopausal..childless and alone, for me is a truth I have to accept..Doctors don’t have a clue…I was a registered General nurse for 30 yrs and was never taught anything on my course about the menopause….I left nursing and am now a reiki healer and masseuse ….on a positive note…I’m a goddess…I’m empowered…I have sex appeal…a wise woman…intuitive …intelligent
    …confident..independent..a beautiful older crone….I’m doing stuff now which I never did in
    my 30’s. …got a wide circle of single
    friends..some older ,some younger….and I aim to enjoy myself….I’m sticking my 2 fingers up at society….I am fearless and rebel against the standardisation of women…I go against the grain….I accept that my skin looks fabulous for my age…I accept that my body has remained in great condition and hasn’t been corrupted by childbirth…I accept that my waistline hasn’t got wider….despite all the hardships of menopause …the emotional roller coaster that u missed the boat….I accept the positives of being who I am….and I’m so glad to know there are other women out there ….sharing my experience…

  12. Hi, I’m 47 and am in the early stages of menopause. I am also a virgin. What I am curious about is whether or not the traditional symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, physical changes, emotional upheaval) are any different as a result of my lack of sexual experience and childlessness.

    Thanks you for so well-articulating the one emotion I feel most strongly – that this is “the death you survive,” as it is the end of my biological line. I haven’t really wanted to have children, but knowing that it is well and truly impossible now is deeply wrenching nonetheless.

  13. Hi. I am 57, divorced after 23 years of marriage to a man who did not want children. Single now for 11 years and find that being both single and no kids is creating problems.

    People ask me WHY? Why no children? Why single? You are such an attractive, happy, sucessful, capable and outgoing woman. Perhaps you are setting your sights too high. Get out there and date.

    I have been on internet dating sites and dating for over 10 years and have ‘met’ hundreds of men and drunk hundreds of cups of coffee. One recently kept asking why I was single and why I did not have children. What was wrong with me medically. He kept waxing lyrical about his wonderful kids and grandkids.

    Even going to the optometrist yesterday it is Mrs……..
    Or to a new butcher… How is your family? Enjoying having your children around during the holidays?

    Have even been asked in a job interview a few years ago… Don’t you like children?

    My friends are either coupled up/married, with children or grandchildren or some living the dream of early retirement and travelling whilst visiting and filling their Facebook pages up with photos of grandkids.

    Married women avoid me and do not invite me to events. “Obviously” I will go for their husband “What the?”

    I, as the daughter, am caring for elderly parents – one in a nursing home and the other still living independently.

    When I get to their situation there will not be anyone to do for me what I am doing for them. This makes me sad and a little scared.

    I will say that I thought I had come to grips with my reality.

    I own my own business and home, have interesting hobbies, get out and do things, go to movies and meals solo, have taken local and international holidays solo.

    Some people who are married with kids say they wish they had my life.

    People who are not in the situation do not understand.

    And don’t get me started on people who keep breeding children and then do not properly care for them.

    • Dear Di! I am sorry for my poor English! But I totally understand your pain. I am 51 and not having friends, depressed and not even have a job! I like communication and if you dont mint lets chat sometimes. I am living in Japan,

  14. I’m so pleased to have stumbled across this site…during a moment of desperation after yet another argument with my husband.

    I’ve just turned 45, have been with my husband for 3 years, am childless by circumstance (although I’m not unhappy with this, I still feel sad sometimes) and have been in perimenopause for at least 18mnths for which I take HRT and citalopram. I spend most of the time in pain, anxiety and frustration at the lack of control I have over my bloody body. I have no sexual appetite whatsoever and despite having a very understanding husband, it’s inevitably causing problems. I feel completely on my own – the majority of my friends are in their early 30s and I’m becoming ‘auntie’ Amy on a regular basis. It’s just really nice to know there are people out there I can relate to.

    Thank you x

    • Hi Amy – thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m so sorry that you and your husband are having a difficult time. Going through the menopause as a childless women (by choice or not) can be extra challenging it seems! A book that I’ve found really useful in embracing the next act of life in this woman’s body is Christiane Northrup’s ‘Goddesses Never Age’ (a terrible title for a really excellent book, so please don’t let it put you off, it did me, for ages!). There are lots of things you can do to support your body and mind through the passage of menopause and, as we do become a little bit more outspoken as the oestrogen (or ‘be a nice girl hormone’ as I think of it) declines, arguments are quite normal! Another great book is Goddesses in Older Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen. (What is it with the Goddesses?!) for a more mental/emotional take on things. And do please consider joining our online community – full of brilliantly outspoken, emotionally generous and heartfelt women to support you and travel alongside you. Hugs, Jody x

  15. I have no idea where to begin, I’ll just quote words that are factual about my life: I’m 52, single, post menopausal, childless, post double mastectomy survivor (still working on reconstruction), and let me say yes, a virgin. I’m lost.

    • Hi Dana – thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m so sorry to hear of the many losses you’re dealing with… I’m really not surprised you feel lost right now… I think what you’re experiencing sounds incredibly hard. You might like to come and join us in the Private Online Community where you’ll be able to share more, and get support back from other childless women dealing with similar issues. I really applaud you for being honest about your virginity too – in our hyper-sexualised culture, that really can’t be easy to talk about. (And no, you’re not alone in that either).
      Hugs, Jody x
      http://www.gateway-women.com/community

    • I think you are really brave for coming out and saying all those things and i respect you for it. You have been true to the circumstances that you have encountered and lets be honest most of us can’t say that. You give me strength and I’d like to pass some back to you x

  16. Dear Jody, This is my first time even looking at a blog & since I’m 57 yrs old, having horrible menopause & childless by circumstance your blog caught my attention. I need a book to explain all i’ve gone through, still going through & see no light at the end of the tunnel. Hoping this will help me I will continue to read comments & try to stop listening to my inner voice. Thanks for helping me not feel so alone. Need all the advice I can get

    • Hi Karen – welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having a horrible menopause – it can be a very tough time for those of us childless not by choice if we haven’t yet come to terms with our childlessness and done some of our grief work. You might find looking at some of my blogs here on ‘grief’ might help, and also chapter 4 in my book. I also really recommend joining our private online community where you can get as much empathic, intelligent and helpful support as you could wish for! Hugs, Jody x

  17. I’m 47 and have always wanted children, yet because of my lousy childhood didn’t want to start thinking about babies until at least 35 then I was on the edge of having children, but then sabotaging the chance of having children. It makes it really hard as I have 3 sisters with7 children and I feel jealous and relieved. I’m happy with not having children but still get depressed and cry about it. I was also told by a woman what is the point of my breasts when they are not going to be used to breastfeed? why is it always, always women but never men who are bothered about children? I really am going to need help when I hit menopause.

    • Hi Caroline – Thank you for taking the time to comment and I’m sorry that a ‘lousy childhood’ impacted your thinking/feeling around motherhood. It’s a very common theme amongst us. I guess in the past, lousy childhood or not, without women’s access to birth control, most women got pregnant anyway… and perhaps then passed the damage onto the next generation. Hard as it may sound, those of us who haven’t done that have been very kind to the children we didn’t get to have, and we can be good women in other ways. You might find the support of others like us in our private online community very helpful. Hugs, Jody x
      http://www.gateway-women.com/community

  18. Never thought I’d see a group devoted to women who are childless. I’m 60 – don’t stop reading – please. I think some younger women may feel like I can’t relate, but I can. I just wish I had this kind of resource 30 years ago. My first husband did not want children; told me he didn’t think I’d be a good mother because I wasn’t “like his mom.” He was bipolar and while dealing w/ his illness I became codependent. So basically ended up thinking maybe I wouldn’t have time for kids – between being chief bread winner and trying to help him keep a job, prop him up during depressive episodes and calm him down during manic episodes. After 30 years of this – yes, 30 years – I realized I had absolutely lost myself if I ever knew who I was. The last straw was his affair so I divorced him. 30 years… the best part of my life – gone. I don’t think most women would have done that after so much time, but I had to get out. So at 50, still on birth control (?) my GP said my migraines would be kept at bay. Totally went through peri-menopause without any discussions with my GP (a woman!) Unfortunately, the extra estrogen in my birth control contributed to breast cancer in both breasts. So had a mastectomy and reconstruction – decided to skip chemo and radiation – all while dating another man (divorced with 2 adult kids). He was devoted to me the whole time; we married 3 years later, even though I knew I took a back seat to his children. He told me that upfront – and I still do. He never made much money; that was ok – so I ended up being the chief bread winner again (I’m in I.T. but women in that field aren’t paid like men are). Now that my husband is retired (he has no retirement) we moved to Costa Rica – yes – its beautiful – but now I have to try to find a whole new group of women w/o children (I had a great group in the states) and there is no one here who I have connected with. Expat women here all have children, so again, odd woman out. So, I’m still working part-time, my retirement fund nearly depleted from purchasing the house here. So, living in paradise with a husband whose adult children are more important to him than I am with no friends here; working part time and taking care of him (he has liver disease). I never had time to cultivate a hobby, so – here I am. Feeling unloved, unfulfilled, no friends, no family. And no one to help take care of me when I’ll need it. And believe it or not, my faith in God is the only thing that has kept me going. I almost feel bad saying that as Christians get a bad rap these days, but its true. My faith is the only thing that I can count on in my life.

    • I am 53 and divorced and also childless. I’m also going thru perimenopause but finding the worst for me right now is the feeling of aloneness being single, not dating anyone, and dreading retirement alone. I am also Christian and right now my faith in God and Jesus is my rock. And it’s pretty much the only thing that gets me thru the tough days. I envy women who have great husbands and families and kids to look forward to. I know only God knows our future but it’s still hard getting thru these years , especially single. It would be nice to meet a kind Christian man without lots of baggage but I don’t even feel that great about myself right now that I’d probably not be such great company. Praying for better days ahead.
      Stay strong in your faith. GOD is amazing.

    • Hi there I would just like to say that you are a wonderful woman, totally selfless but now maybe you should be selfish and start thinking of yourself? Are there any meet up groups in your area? Is there anything that interests you? Also you are never too old to foster, you can do this on a respite basis if you don’t want to do it full time or what about being a befriender? What about voluntary work? With your experiences and especially regarding cancer and your ex husband’s illness, you would be able to help others in this situation. Please remember you are not alone, and you are very worthy. My best wishes to you and I wish you well.

  19. I am shedding tears of “connection” and “recognition” as I read this. I had always wanted children; the more the merrier; but an extremely abusive marriage and subsequent divorce ended my dream. I can’t imagine trusting another person that intimately again. Personally, I have never felt my worth as a person especially as a woman rested on my ability as a “broodmare”. Unfortunately, I keep running across people who; when they find out you are childless, will have the gall to ask “why not”. Would anyone ever think of asking a man that question? And often its men doing the asking.

    • Hi Barbara – I’m so sorry you experienced an abusive marriage and I don’t blame you for feeling a little chary about intimacy again. These things take time, and the person to come into our lives that feels worth the risk of trusting again. I’ve also found that as I’ve grown more and more comfortable with my childlessness, people ask me about it less! And if they are insensitive, I take it as an opportunity to educate them as to perhaps other ways to enquire! (Not always, sometimes I can’t be bothered!) Hugs, Jody x

  20. Hi

    I’m 47 (no kids) and it took four to five months of visits to various doctors and specialists to work out why I was suffering anxiety attacks (thought i was having a heart attack), mind-numbing headaches at night, foggy head during the day and sleep issues.

    All I knew about menopause was the hot flashes – if only that was the worst! No one told me about the rest.

    At work I thought I was going nuts and was struggling to keep my job. In the end I resigned because physically and mentally I was exhausted, my new boss was unsupportive and I didn’t have a clear mind to see a way out. Finally I found a wonderful GP and after a six-month break am now trying to get back to work.

    I now make a point to talk about my experience of peri-menopause in the hope that I can help someone who is struggling.

    I’ve also come to the view that women in the workforce potentially face two career hurdles: the first is early-to-mid career when deciding to have a family, and the second is mid-to-late career when we hit peri-menopause.

    • Hi Betty and thanks for commenting. Your experience of the peri-menopause sounds pretty similar to mine and I was treated for all kinds of things including depression and and an underactive thyroid before I worked out (with the help of a couple of older women) that it was the peri-menopause. I was working for myself (still do) and the anxiety and sleep disturbance were so profound that I could barely work and had to move out of my flat because I could no longer afford the rent. And yet my (female) doctor had no idea what my symptoms pointed to, and neither did I. Like you, I am passionate about talking about the peri-menopause so that other women don’t have to struggle like I did. And I think your point about how menopause is handled in the workplace is very important – it’s usually treated as an embarrassment / joke and that’s something else we have to change! Thanks so much for raising it. Jody x

      • Hi, I’ve been having peri menopausal symptoms now for about 2 years. I had no idea until last month when I discussed how desperate I’d become with a friend. I have lost the will and motivation to work largely because I lack energy and a clear mind. It’s the opposite of who I am and I have felt at times suicidal because I thought I was losing my mind. I’m beginning to accept where I am. But it’s a struggle. This website has helped me understand more. Thank you

  21. Hi Jody,
    I think a book by you on this subject will help to fill a much needed gap. A few weeks ago feeling hot rather than hopeful I decided to take the plunge and read a book about hormones and women. The first chapter on perimenopause may have been biologically informative, but there was one sentence on the emotional impact and it went something like this….”you may realise at this time that you won’t have another child or perhaps you have the children you want..”I thought what about …”you have spent most of your adult life trying to have a child or a relationship in which you could have a child and it didn’t happen…”. Nope…seemingly the menopause only happens to women who have children…yeah right we wish!
    So it will be a great relief to have a book with a wider focus.

    With respect to feeling that we are worth less because we don’t have children…something I do still struggle with from time to time..though perhaps less than I once did… I find the words of Victor Frankl very comforting and a bit of a “so there” to the mommy mania.
    He was counselling a man who had lost his first wife and children in the holocaust and his second wife could not have children. His words..”I observed then that procreation is not the only meaning of life, for then life itself would become meaningless, and something which in itself is meaningless cannot be rendered meaningful merely by its perpetuation”

    Anyhoo best of luck with the book and thank you!

    Emily x

    • Hi Emily and thanks for your comment. Viktor Frankl is a big favourite of mine too, and his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” really helped me when I was in the depths of my despair over childlessness. Finding ‘meaning’ in life is an important (vital) task for all adults and parenting is definitely not the only way, despite what our culture says at this crazy pronatalist-meets-capitalist juncture! Thanks for your support for my idea of writing a book on the childless experience of menopause. I’m reading a lot of other books in preparation for it and have only found one so far that even considers that not all women who wanted to be mothers got to have that experience, and that’s Dr Christine Northrop’s The Wisdom of Menopause which I have found to be excellent so far. Hugs, Jody x

    • Love this. Thank you Emily for sharing. I have never heard this before….you have certainly made me feel much better!

  22. I run a support and awareness organisation in UK for women who have had womb cancer. http://wombcancersupportuk.weebly.com/ Despite it being thought of as something that post menopausal women get, there are many younger women being diagnosed; the youngest I know at present is 25.
    Not only do these younger women have to deal with a cancer diagnosis and go through treatment but then they are also plunged into sudden menopause with all the unpleasant effects of that and they are then left to deal with issues of not being able to have children.
    I was 46 when I was diagnosed and although I had come to terms many years before with not being able to have children, I still found the whole thing extremely traumatic. Image being 36, or even 26 and getting a womb cancer diagnosis.
    Being told that you won’t be able to have children is almost like an after thought – the cancer is the issue and that’s what is dealt with. The emotional and psychological effects are overlooked at best and completely ignored at worst.
    Our womb is what makes us women – its the very core of our being. Our function is to give life to another human being. If a women chooses not to do that then that is her right but when that choice is taken away so suddenly and the woman is left with no support then it can create lasting issues that she has to deal with.
    Womb cancer is often the “forgotten” cancer – most women know about cervical or ovarian cancer yet very few, myself included, had ever heard of womb cancer until we were diagnosed, despite it being the 4th most common cancer in women in UK. More women are diagnosed with it than either ovarian or cervical and almost 1,900 will die as a result of it.
    We need more awareness of this cancer and the women who have been diagnosed, especially the younger ones, need much more support especially once the treatment has ended and they are faced with the issues of infertility and childlessness.
    In an ideal world, having children is a choice, but some of us are never given that option of making that choice.

    • Hi Kaz and thanks so much for commenting. I really appreciate you sharing your resource with us – I knew about womb cancer because I know GW’s who’ve suffered from it but I didn’t know how prevalent it was. There seems to be SO much unnecessary mystery surrounding everything womb related apart from pregnancy! I have indeed heard from others that there is little (or no) emotional or psychosocial support around the loss of the choice/chance to become a mother – and that actually sometimes the comments/actions of medical professionals can be deeply wounding in their careless and casual choice of words. I really look forward to learning more about your work and have followed you on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for being a sister who helps others cope with such a difficult and life-changing experience. Hugs, Jody x

  23. Hi Jody

    Such a well written article, thanks.

    I’m 54(and a half!) and have have had some similar experiences to others here, but also unique experiences.
    I was told by me GP i was peri menopausal at about 40ish so when I embarked on fertility treatment i skipped the IVF after trying some hormonal pills to increase fertility prescribed by private gynaecologist-didn’t work so years later, when in another relationship at 47 tried egg donation-didn’t work etc etc.
    That was my fist Dark Night of The Soul. That was when i bought the book “Dark Nights of the Soul” by Thomas Moore. It saved me from a severe depression and helped me function enough to be able to use work as a therapy most days for a few years.
    I was given no information about peri-menopause by GP following diagnosis so researched using a Women’s Gynae Network support organisation and their info was useful. Of course now i am in DEEP menopause I cannot remember the name of things like this from approx 15 years ago!
    I’m trying the Acceptance route for small memory failings like this as it’s so less stressful than worrying about it which affects memory even more! Having just read Brigid Keenan’s book “Packing Up” I realise it is normal anyway. Her comments on ageing are so funny!

    Mum had a surgically induced menopause so got a little info from her.

    I was on HRT for 9 years to stop menstrual migraines which got MUCH worse during the peri menopausal period. If I had not had the HRT I would have been out of work and claiming benefits as the migraines lasted 5 days every 3 weeks!
    Every time i tried stopping the HRT the migraines got worse.
    Then WHAM! breast cancer came along. I have some regret about having had so many oestrogen supplements in my life with HRT and fertility treatment. BUT I may have got it anyway due to family history. Being without HRT would have made my life unbearable anyway.
    Now i am in DEEP menopause due to being on prescribed Letrozole n(anti oestrogen drug to prevent breast cancer visiting again!) which mops up and removes any oestrogen generated by ovaries, body fat or muscles. I didn’t know women generated so much oestrogen even after natural menopause until the Marsden consultant told me this.

    Disadvantages of deep menopause? Complete loss of libido in my case. It’s like sex is a lovely memory now. I’m so glad i had so much of it when i was younger! It’s like, been there, done that!Thank goodness i have an understanding partner.

    Advantages? Men are no longer “threatened” by my sexuality somehow. They seem to confide more easily-young or old. Others seem to want me to “mother” them more often now. Young women are also more open once they make the effort to talk to me!
    Menopause does give a certain “freedom” i cannot explain easily. A freedom to be myself and not put up with being treated badly by “friends” or others. A freedom to say “No” or “Yes” more easily when it suits me without considering everyone else first.

    Just noticed the advantages outweigh the disadvantages!

    SORRY this is comment is so long. Your questions are cathartic Jody!

    • Hi Suzanne – thanks for your comment and no problem with the length – it’s great to provide the space for us to start airing and sharing our experiences! I love that after all you’ve been through, you still find that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. With an attitude like that, how can you help but ROCK sister!! Hugs, Jody x
      (PS: Love the expression ‘deep menopause’!)

      • Thanks Jody for the encouragement.
        Had to dash to appointment so didn’t summarise enough at end.

        Ok, My current issue, apart from living with and learning to accept the unfolding of the deep menopause, is to deal with the anxieties around an imagined “lonely, unloved old age”.

        I usually challenge this thought with “Ageing is a privilege denied to many!” as another lovely member identified. Who made this quote by the way??

        Also I KNOW having children is no guarantee of “a love filled connected old age” .

        I have met women in care homes/sheltered housing or living independently with children and grandchildren who still get lonely at weekends especially as their family are busy, busy and the women “don’t want to be a bother” to their families. Or their families or the women have cut off contact usually due to some toxic family interactions (this reminds me of most of my own family unfortunately!).

        Part of the answer to ward off lonely old age may lie in community action and housing I believe, as well as attitude. As Shakespeare apparently said “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.

        I came across an article few years ago on the Soutwark Circle set up in 2009 to bring older people together to do enjoyable things and to provide ad hoc practical help with a token scheme so they exchange say decorating with garden design advice for example.

        I’m looking forward to reading others posts, and your future inspiring work Jody!

        • Hi Suzanne – Ageing without Children is a big topic and one I’m collaborating with a few other campaigners to begin tackling. You might like to read a little about it here: http://www.bit.ly/ageingwithoutchildren
          And I’ll be asking for GWs input this Autumn in a research project around this topic in preparation for the seminar we’re holding on the topic in January 2015. We can do this! Let’s change it and making #ageingwithoutchildren something to be embraced, not feared!
          Jody x

  24. Hi Jody, first of all thanks for your work supporting all of us struggling with being childless. You have helped me walk the last mile out of that dark place.
    Again a good idea dealing with menopause. From the physical changes, I’m mostly worried about the emotional turmoil: will I go again through all the feelings of not being complete, the sense of having missed the train, of having a part of me “lost”? Because I have had those, and for sure do not look forward to repeat that journey… Also being alone when I’m old and losing the connectedness with life around me scare me: i still have not figured out how to deal with that.
    Two good things that I expect though: finish my long term relationship with endometriose (at least that is what I hope!) and live a decluttered life, as I do not need to keep a bunch of souvenirs and mementos, nor edit my history so it helps guiding the next generation after me.
    Thanks again and go on with this good job you are doing!

    • Hi Do and thank you for your comment – I’m so glad that GW has helped you out of our dark place. The emotional turmoil has a unique flavour for those of us who are childless – the sense of being alone AND the last of our line. It’s something I’ll definitely be addressing and looking to hear more of your thoughts and stories too. I agree about the clutter! I love the idea that I don’t need to ‘hang onto’ anything anymore! I want to travel lightly and adventurously again and my motto is “what you own, owns you”. Soooo different from when I still wanted a family, a partner and the kitchen sink and garden that went with it!! Hugs, Jody x

  25. Dear Jody,

    Thank you for this article. It was very nice to read about someone else who is going through a childless menopause as well. I can manage my hot flashes but I still find it very deeply upsetting that I still don’t have a husband. I know that I will always be in pain about childlessness but I find it very discomforting living my life without my soulmate by my side.

    One of the reasons I am embarking on a career as a novelist is to write about women like you and I, women that feel marginalised in a society that, as far as I am concerned, really doesn’t care about us and how our lives got destroyed. I also want to give talks about social engineering as I can see this information needs to get out to the public as soon as possible. I know it’s a lot to cover but I am determined to do it.

    I think women like you and I just need to keep tooting our horns until finally some people with half a brain can comprehend that something’s really not right with our society and that there is a lot of damage that needs to be healed.

    • Hi Barbara – great to hear from you. I hadn’t heard about ‘social engineering’ until you mentioned it to me earlier this year and I think it’s a really important aspect to cover. Often, the wheels of patriarchy are invisible to the naked eye, but not so in this case! Get writing Barbara, we need that book! Hugs, Jody x

  26. Hi Jody, & thanks for bringing attention to these important questions & issues. Since there are such huge numbers of us who are entering middle age without children at the moment, it’s an issue well worth exploring and planning for.

    I am on the other end of the spectrum from many of the previous commenters: I am 53 and my period still (!!) arrives more or less regularly each month. I was probably more IRregular 10 years ago, coming off fertility treatments. My ob-gyn says he’s seeing more & more women in their mid-50s who still haven’t gone through menopause, for whatever reason, and so long as things are “manageable,” he’s not concerned. While I’m not anxious to experience the joys of aging, part of me is kind of impatient to get it over with and get on with the rest of my life. I have had various perimenopausal symptoms for the past 10-15 years (no doubt exacerbated by the hormonal fluctuations of failed pregnancy & infertility treatments), and while there hasn’t been anything I haven’t been able to cope with yet (knocking wood), I do notice that, most months, my mittelschmerz & PMS symptoms have become more pronounced these past few years.

    I do sometimes worry about being old & left alone… although dh assures me that he will come back to haunt our two nephews if they ever neglect me 😉 and I am certainly aware that having children is no guarantee that they will be there to support you in old age.

    • Hi Loribeth – thanks so much for your comments. I think it sounds really tough that you’ve had peri-menopause for 10-15 years which I think is the toughest bit! It’s not unusual for a woman to be having periods in her 50s, the ‘average’ age of menopause is 51.4 years, which with a “95% confidence interval of Bell Curve gives a range of 45-55 years” according to University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The number “51” seems to have stuck in a lot of our minds, and many women think that’s the age it’s going to start, or when they will no longer be fertile – both of which are sadly way off the mark!
      I think the impact of fertility drugs on the onset/completion of menopause is, as yet, unknown. It’s experimental science and a lot of us have been experimented on…
      The issue of ageing without children is uppermost in many of our minds and it’s something I’ll be tackling with gusto!
      Hugs to you, Jody x

  27. I am so happy to have found this. Not because it’s such a “fun” topic, but because I’m going out of my mind. I’m 48 and missed my first period a few month back. I have been totally blindsided by the grief of the fantasy of children ending for me. I didn’t realize how I was holding on. Still probably holding on. I’m devastated and I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. At least here I am hearing a bit of hope. Thank you for doing this.

    • Hi Rebecca – I’m sorry to hear that the grief has hit you so hard. Do search for other article on this site that I’ve written with the keyword “grief” and I hope you’ll find a lot of hope (and no sugar-coated bullshit either!) You might also like to download the free chapters of my book and see if it might help you. Hugs to you, it does get better. Jody x

      • Thanks so much. I am going to investigate further. I like the idea of connecting with others in similar situations instead of trying to continue to connect with those in the mommy or grandma club right now.

  28. Hi, Maybe you’ll do an article on early menopause? I had an early menopause. I started getting the hot flushes etc. in my late 20s and didn’t get a diagnosis until my mid 30s. It took 20 visits (I counted!) to various doctors and consultants to get that far. I kept being told that early menopause was rare so it was unlikely to be that and that it was just stress. I think it’s something like 1 in a 100 women to go through it before they are 40, which doesn’t seem that rare to me! There hasn’t been an awful lot of follow up support or advice from the medical profession, I was basically just given HRT and left to get on with it.
    The Daisy Network provided a lot of useful information (although their focus seems to be mostly on how to have a child through alternative methods rather than coming to terms with childlessness and moving on and I’ve let my membership lapse) and The Premature Menopause Book by Kathryn Petras was helpful also.
    It’s probably a completely different experience to go through it 20 years too early, it’s not only the end of my chances of having children it’s the cause of it. It’s also not for me been wrapped up with issues surrounding aging. Sometimes I’m glad to have got it out the way early! Mostly I’m glad to have the finality of knowing one way or the other whether or not I’ll have children.

    • Hi Helen – thanks for sharing your experience and a book that was helpful to you. I will definitely be writing about early menopause which, I agree, isn’t actually that ‘rare’ at 1:100!! Perhaps when I write that section I could come back to you to interview you (anonymously) about your experience? I really want to get as many of our stories included as possible. Thank you again, Jody x

    • Hi, I noticed your feedback on The Daisy Network. I am a member and fed this back to them a while ago but they don’t have the capacity to do more work at the moment. There isn’t a lot of support full stop for childless women – it is a really neglected area.

  29. Hi Jody: I am 54 and menopausal and childless. I had 2 miscarriages – 1 natural pregnancy and 1 IVF pregnancy. I still have bad days, especially now that many of my siblings are grandparents. My husband is my rock, however, I feel selfish for always bothering him about how I feel, as he has always handled it very well. The thing that bothers me the most is the fear of growing old alone – that is, of course, if I live to be old. I fear loneliness and becoming an abused elderly person that we often hear about in seniors homes. I know this sounds selfish, however, I’m wondering if anyone else feels like I do, as we all do better when people who have walked in our shoes can relate and remain positive. Thank you so much for listening!

    • Hi Madonna – thanks for commenting and YES! the fear of ageing without children is a MASSIVE issue and one that I’ll definitely be tackling. There is some of my thinking in Chapter 12 of my book, if you’ve got it? I’m also involved in a project called “Ageing Without Children” with 3 other campaigners to start getting the issues we worry about onto the social policy agenda. I’ll be sharing more about it, and asking for input from Gateway Women very soon! You can read a bit about it here. Jody x

  30. “..Clarity of thinking and emotional steadiness that I don’t remember having since before puberty. I feel bold and adventurous again, although now I’m more interested in social change …”

    Jody: If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought that I wrote these observations. Thank you for forming Gateway Women — so good to be in the company of such strong and inspirational women. xx Pamela

  31. Hi, I am 51 been menopausal for around 5 years.
    What stories about your peri-menopause or menopause would you like to share?

    I would like to share exactly how hard the menopause has been for me, both physically and mentally. And how I wish I had known about the peri-menopause at the time I was trying to conceive (from age 36, unsuccessfully though we finally adopted so I am also mother to a five year old girl while struggling with menopause.)

    ◦How did/do you get your information about menopause?

    I have read one book on it; “is it me or is it hot in here?”

    ◦Do you feel able to talk about your experience of menopause with others?

    No
    ◦Did your mother ever talk to you about the menopause?

    No

    ◦How are you dealing with some of the physical changes of menopause?

    Really badly, I am taking HRT which has its own problems. Worst is hot flushes, breast pain and growth (!), brain fog…

    ◦How are you coping with the existential issues around never being a mother?

    I find myself still thinking what might have been even though I have a lovely adopted daughter.

    ◦HRT, bio-identicals or herbs – what’s right for you and do you know enough?

    I have taken various prescriptions, all of which have brought their own problems, The lack of good medical support is dreadful,

    • Thank you so much for taking the time, Leicester Lass, for such a detailed response. It’s nuts that the peri-menopause is so little known amongst our generation (doctors included it seems). I’m sorry you’re having such a rough passage and gosh, yes, I remember the breast growth – having always been quite modestly endowed, it was like some cruel imitation of pregnancy! I hope to address all the issues you’ve raised, thank you x

  32. Love the article, thank you. Just starting symptoms of peri menopause, many days I feel dried up, like I’m ready to blow away with the wind. There are 2 things I use to try (and it’s not easy!) and keep myself grounded, sharing my knowledge (teaching I guess) about my life experience of taking care of animals and trying to keep up on hobbies (photography).
    Thank you for your passion!

    • Hi Jenny – yes, staying grounded is important as it’s the opposite ‘movement’ to anxiety, which tends to take us up into our head and right out the top of it until we are about 3foot above the ground! I’m so happy that you have animals in your life – my dear, fussy, bonkers cat has been a treasure! Jody x

  33. You are like the big sister I never had … and never knew I needed so badly! This article was a huge eye-opener for me. I’m 43 and my doctor has never once brought up menopause. But she has asked me each year at my exam whether I or not my husband and I might still planning on having children so that she could let me know my options. When I turned 40 she told me about friends of hers who had children in their 40s. It saddens me deeply that her interest in my health seems to be focused only my continued fertility. Having made my peace with not having children a few years ago, this kind of conversation can still be triggering and confusing for me. However, now I feel empowered to bring up questions about menopause at my next exam.

    • Hi Colleen – I LOVE the idea of being your big sister! I’m so glad this piece was really informative for you – it’s really quite shocking the level of ignorance we’re all coming up against from the medical profession about this event in our lives. Lots of doctors are now referring women to GW, so the word is getting out. Perhaps you might like to share GW with her and ask her to take a look before your next appointment? I’m so glad you feel empowered to get what YOU need out of your next appointment but, be prepared, take whatever she says with a pinch of salt and check it out – it seems that many GPs are pretty clueless about the menopause unless they’ve had one themselves or are specialists!

  34. Hey Jody, again another great topic. I’m 47 3/4 and ending the beginning of menopause. I actually embraced it because it allowed me to firmly close the door on thinking I should keep trying for a child. I had made a lot of assumptions about menopause, my mother was much older when she hit the mark and two of my sisters popped out babies with no problems at the 40 mark so I made assumptions on how long I could have children. Having started periods at just 11 and always had painful ones, I actually now see them as a reminder of the utter uselessness of the experience for me and will be glad to see the back of them. One of the benefits of the whole experience is letting go that need to have a partner and firmly looking after myself. I’ve always been financially responsible and was actually financially responsible for my partner and myself for a long period. Now I embrace that aloneness, the giving up of that search of a perfect relationship. I take care of myself and use much of the time mothers would use on their family to self care. I do slightly resent the comments from mother friends about how “easy” that is. It still takes focus and drive to hoist my ass to a pilates class but I’m grateful I have the funds and time to do it. It does feel a bit no win though as those friends can be resentful and snide about my opportunities, “how nice you can travel”, “how nice you can get a massage” and so on. While I work my way through the last vestige of immense grief at being childless, and the worries about who will look after me (my mother bless her insists she will stay around to take care of me o:), and the careless reassurance of family members and friends who say “oh don’t worry about that, our kids will help” which does seem a bit glib as their support of my childless grief has been less then reassuring, I am firmly determined to explore and enjoy the space I have to take care of me and will not apologise for it.

    • Hi B – I think it’s really shitty that people notice what you are doing with your life and, instead of supporting you and understanding that it wasn’t your first choice – give you attitude. I guess “How nice you can get a massage” is also a comment on their own lack of time/money/self-care, but the price you’ve paid for it is so much higher than cash. A little empathy would go a long way! Your friends and family sound caring, if a little clueless. My experience is that even the kindest, most empathetic people don’t know how to handle our childless grief, so it may be that they will be more helpful when it comes to practical support later in life. Hugs, Jody x

  35. Hi Jody,

    I am a newbie to the community and just posted my story a few days ago. I don’t know if this post will be any use this to you and your article but you asked the questions, so here are my answers. By the way, you are an incredible woman, thank you for leading the way.

    I was 37 (am now 42) and decided to get fit. I started going to the gym 5 days a week at the same time my periods just stopped overnight. I got terrible sweats, literally burning up from the inside. I went to the doctor after 3 months (I checked online and that was the recommended time to see a physician). I was told the amenorrhea was due to the stress I was putting my body at the gym but I insisted something was wrong and requested a blood test.

    I got the results verbally a week later and told I was completely normal, everything was fine. For 14 months and still no sign of a period, I went back to the practice over 6 times, seeing various doctors who each told me that amenorrhea was due to too much physical exercise, stress etc. Even though I knew deep down that something was very wrong, I deluded myself by believing in the test result (which I never actually saw).

    At my last visit to the doctor, I insisted they pull up the test result again on the computer and right in front of my eyes, in massive bold print ‘Premature Ovarian Failure’ was typed across the top of the screen. The doctor then turned to me and said, ‘sorry, we made a mistake, you can’t have children, you have gone through the menopause’. My FSH level was 108 (am sure you know menopause is diagnosed at 30).

    Devastated and disgusted by their incompetence and ignorance, I did some research and paid privately to see a consultant at a Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in Hammersmith, the most respected Gynaecology Department in the UK. I was seen within a few days, had all the tests, had the diagnosis confirmed and given HRT which I take every day and will do until I am about 50. It gives me a monthly bleed so that I feel like a ‘normal’ woman and keeps my womb healthy in case I ever went down the pipe dream route of IVF. I know that won’t ever happen, I have been single for years, but it keeps me from the brink of total insanity. Alas, because of the 14 months going undiagnosed it was too late to harvest any eggs as my ovaries had long since shut down.

    HRT has made a massive difference, thank goodness the sweats stopped but there are risks of the breast cancer but Its a risk I am willing to take. The minute I stop taking the HRT, the symptoms start again and the sweats are just unbearable.

    Going private that one time, got me into the ‘system’ and then I was back in the NHS. I was given one hour free counselling every week at the hospital but consisted of a nurse staring at me and asking me how I was each week and I would talk nonsense back at her. After a few months, I stopped going as it didn’t help and I was embarrassed as I wasn’t getting ‘better’. They also gave me the details of The Daisy Network for women with POF which I looked into but wasn’t inspired.

    I have since tried to do my own research on why this happened to me, what other medications there are or if any miracle cures have been discovered but there is hardly anything to be found. Our local GP’s seem to be completely at a loss at what to do with women going through the menopause, early or otherwise. There seems to be far more research done in the US, and they have more resources and support for women with POF.

    One of the hardest things to bear is my own mum, who in her own sweet loving way tries to be supportive, compares symptoms with me – and she’s 75! I have the most incredible family and they are all so supportive but mum had said that she thinks I went through the menopause early due to the stress of my work. I know for a fact, I did not do this to myself.

    All my friends and family know that I have POF and they are supportive but they don’t really understand what it’s like to lose all my motivation, to not being able to find a good reason to get up in the morning, to not feeling like I have anything to live for. I muddle through and just found this great network, so am feeling a bit more optimistic that through your hard work and this community of amazing ladies, I can discover a new meaningful life.

    I am so angry and feel let down by the NHS. The doctors at my local practice didn’t believe me when I knew something was wrong and then didn’t even read the results when they got them. I am also really angry with myself for not pushing harder. It’s been 5 years and I since I was diagnosed with POF and am still heartbroken.

    I hope this helps with your research.

    Louise

    • Hi Louise – thanks for taking the time to share your story. It is devastating to hear how ignorant your GPs were about your test results, and what consequences that has had for you. I’m hearing so many stories where women are simply not being believed by their GPs when they report symptoms and are brushed off, as you were. Please don’t be too hard on yourself about not pushing harder – it’s easy to think that now – but you were not to know that that your doctor was ignoring and/or ignorant of your condition. I think perhaps a letter to your local health authority might help you to feel that you have flagged this issue up. The more stories like yours (and mine) I hear, the more I feel a campaign coming on! Hugs and thanks to you and I think the sooner we start educating the medical profession the better! Hugs, Jody x

      • Thanks for your reply Jody.

        I spoke at great length to the senior Doctor at my local practice who assured me that they would review their procedures. I was very concerned for other patients who might have had more serious life threatening conditions not being diagnosed correctly.

        To give them their due, my practice know what a momental mistake they made and couldn’t do enough to look after me afterwards. I was given priority appointments and seen very quickly at the hospital.

        After much soul searching, I decided what was done, was done and that even though I was very angry it wasn’t worth wasting my emotional resources punishing the practice.

        However, I do you think are right and it’s important I follow up and write that letter for the benefit of other women who will be in my situation and need the correct professional support.

        Thanks again for all your hard work,

        Louise

    • Hi Louise, I too have a story similar to yours. The first time my period was late, I actually thought I was pregnant and was so relieved when it came about 6 days later. Many months later when I was late again, I spoke to my doctor who said it was because of stress. I told her that I hadn’t been under stress and my period was religiously regular since puberty. About a year later my period didn’t show for a month before I saw the doctor. This time I told her I felt that I was going through menopause. Again she said it must be stress because I was too young. I insisted on doing tests, while she discussed maybe going on birth control to get a period. I received a phone call at work three days later saying ” I’m sorry your’e in menopause, you can’t have children.” My FSH was around 119. So here I am 41 ys old now. I haven’t had a period in over 5 yrs. I can relate to all you are saying: Different tests, meds, therapy, well intentioned friends and family saying the wrong things. I decided long ago not to speak with friends or family about the particulars because they just don’t get it. Another thing I have learned through this experience is the importance of advocating for myself because the doctors don’t get it either. I feel your pain and agony. I completely understand your feelings. You’re not alone…

      • Hi NaBo,

        My dear fellow POF sister, how I can imagine that moment when you got that phone call at work. It’s such a shock to hear those words, and you just can’t believe that your body has let you down. It’s a very frightening experience.

        It’s makes me so angry that you were treated the same way as I was when I kept going to the doctors. And if you read above, another fellow POF sister, Helen received the same treatment as us.

        It’s so wonderful to know that you understand, I look forward to sharing more with you as it’s looks like we have a lot in common.

        Love
        Louise

  36. Well done Jody. Love the Doormat Left The Building thing!! Maria -completely agree – family think I am bonkers just now because of change in behaviour. But that concern re: what happens later is a real one. Jody what about all the ‘stuff’ that means lots to you but nothing to anyone else? The photos and bits that are you … Your life….if you don’t have children then where do they go? I have siblings but I am not so sure the items of no value which matter to me won’t end up in the bin. Maybe explore that also?

    • Hi Jenny – the issue of all our ‘stuff’ is a good one to address. I’ve noticed that since I came to terms with not having children I have a lot less interest in ‘stuff’ anyway. I’m in the process of drawing up my will and it’s a good moment to reflect on what I’d like to happen to it. Hopefully we’ll have a Gateway Women Foundation set up by then so it can all be sold and given to the Foundation so that the work of GW continues once I’m finally taking a rest! Jody x

      • Just because there’s no “family” to give your stuff to, doesn’t mean its not important. You created and are still creating a history and a legacy which needs to be told. Publish it; sell or donate to historical societies, or whatever else you can think of to gift your life story to the world. (Movies, plays, art…)

        • Hi Barbara – now that I’m through my grief I can see, absolutely, that I do have a legacy other than the family I longed for. It is in the relationships I leave behind and the impact I’ve had on people’s lives as well as my ‘stuff’. I don’t have much of a financial legacy but I have books and objects that are meaningful to me that I will make sure they go somewhere they will be appreciated, even if their relevance to me is lost. It’s just stuff, in the end! I’d rather be appreciated in my lifetime by those who care about me than after I’ve gone! And yes, leaving our story behind, particular as the ‘reluctant pioneers’ of our generation is very important. Create, create, create and leave to posterity what endures and what is lost! (So, carry on with that novel Barbara!) Hugs, Jody x

  37. I appreciated this article as with all Jody’s posts. Insightful and brave. I’m not sure where I am with Menopause as I hurtle towards 52nd birthday next week, but for first time in last 2-3 months periods have sort of disappeared. Strange and unnerving. And – yes – a lot of intense grief – not entirely sure it ever went away. Fantasies resurfacing about still being able to have fertility treatment. Huge grief about an abortion in my early 20s that I thought was long since resolved. And have found myself almost having panic attacks /emotional outbursts when the thought uncontrollably flashes though my mind ‘no-one will notice if I am not here’…. last time when a good friend was talking to me about her time away with grand-kids.

    I’m not here on 23rd November but would like to join a future event if there is one…

    • Hi Sally – thanks for commenting. I struggled horribly with anxiety/panic attacks during my peri-menopause and they stopped almost immediately once I began HRT. It’s not for everyone, but it worked for me. The gloomy thoughts are grief (and necessary to work through and nothing to be scared of) but the anxiety is probably your hormone levels dropping. There are lots of alternatives to HRT to help with the anxiety – I’ll be sharing what I know during the series – and learning from all of you too. Hugs, Jody x
      (PS: I don’t have dates for next years’ Wisdom Circle days yet but hope to have them in next month or so – just need to sort out venue)

  38. Hi, I’d like to see early menopause/premature ovarian failure discussed. I was diagnosed at about age 34 and was completely in menopause by age 36. I am now 41 yrs old and still struggling: Having difficulty finding doctors that understand and are educated, trying to manage my symptoms, experimenting with medications, etc. It’s very difficult dealing with these symptoms a full 20 yrs before your time, with no peers around that vaguely understand. Add to that being single and childless and you can just imagine the emotional toll.

    • Hi NaBo – I can imagine not having peers to discuss your menopausal symptoms with must make it extra difficult. It seems that we are all cobbling together information as best we can from various sources as if it were a rare and exotic condition, rather than something that every single woman will experience at some point. I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with your early menopause as a single, childless woman. I’m sending you a big hug xxx

    • Hi NaBo. I started peri menopause early too and was done by 42. I am now 4 years post menopausal. All the dr kept telling me I was too young and did nothing for me. I suffered through it not knowing what was going on. I’ve also been celibate for almost 20 years, single, no dating, childless. When I reached 1 year with not period, I was so sad. Really an emotional toil.

  39. Thank you Jody, for being a voice for many of us that have not had one until you came along! It is difficult enough to navigate a tough journey through menopause. The medical community still has a long way to go to be able to assist us in a more pro-active way. But, no one could prepare me to know that the grief of childlessness would become intense during this time. I researched words of comfort on the internet, and there were none, except for the material you have provided. Also, I have noticed that those of us that have not had children seem to start menopause earlier and the symptoms can be stronger. Just knowing that we are not alone brings comfort. Ive noticed that most don’t want to talk about, and friends with children….forget about it..they don’t even bother to comfort because they have no clue! Thank you again for creating a forum that recognizes us!!

    • Hi Leigh – I’m so sorry that the grief of childlessness has intensified during the menopause – it’s like that for many of us as it really is the end of any kind of fantasy hope we might be hanging onto. The good news is that doing your grief work as you go through the menopause will prepare and liberate you for a wonderful life afterwards. I’m pretty sure the next 20 years of my life are going to be the best yet. Hugs, Jody x

  40. There is little or no support for women undergoing early surgical menopause. I had a hysterectomy last year for uterine cancer, i am experiencing some menopausal symptoms as I opted to retain my malfunctioning ovaries, as I know HRT wasn’t an option. I’ve been left to just get on with it as best I can. Oh, and by the way, uterine cancer is the 4th most common female cancer in the UK, but no one seems to talk about that either.

    • Hi Jayney – thanks for commenting. It does seem that there is little emotional support for women experiencing hysterectomies, something which I find shocking but, not altogether surprising. All areas of psychosocial well-being are grossly underserved by our mechanistic health model at present. I think it’s awful that you’ve been left to ‘get on with it’ and I wish yours was an isolated case but I hear it again and again. Thank you for educating me that uterine cancer is so common – I had no idea and I’m shocked I didn’t know. Hugs, Jody x

  41. Thanks, Jody! I can’t see you as a doormat. However, I have noticed that when I do not act like a doormat, my family gets upset and starts treating me like I am crazy. The social pressure is amazing!

    I think that one of the benefits of being a NOMO is that women are starting to embrace and support each other as individuals separate from men. I am loving that part of the social change we are going through. I find that NOMOs and professional women, who may also be mothers but are very interested in their contribution to the world, are the most supportive.

    I do not expect anything from the pronatal world and the medical profession. The hardest thing for me has been issues around invisibility, discrimination (condescension), finding new meaning, and aging alone. Other than that it is all good!

    • Hi Maria – thanks for your comment and I wasn’t a doormat – at times I was more like a wall-to-wall fitted carpet! A surrendered, co-dependent wife who put her life and dreams on hold to follow the dream of motherhood, whatever it took! I too love the support that we nomos (and empathetic mothers) can give each other and the world needs more and more of this kind of support to bust through the pronatalist bullshit! I agree that invisibility, discrimination, meaning and ageing are high on my list of subjects to explore and I look forward to including your insights as I go. I’m so glad GW brought us together Maria. Hugs, Jody x

  42. I’d love to read more on the ‘rite of passage’ – how this impacts and walking through it to the other side.

    The other issue that has surprised me recently is thinking about getting older without children. My mum had a major stroke this summer and her children have gathered round to support the brilliant and frustrating care provided by the state. I found the question popping into my mind unbidden – ‘who’s going to look after me if I get ill in old age?’ It seemed selfish, and friends laughed and said there’d be loads of them to help, but really? An interesting subject that we don’t tend to think about and maybe we should be thinking of it quite intentionally

    • Hi Linda – thanks for your comment. The ‘rite of passage’ aspect of menopause is one that fascinates me and I’ll definitely be covering that! And the issue of ‘ageing without children’ is massive. I’m involved in a project with 3 other campaigners and we’re planning to get this very topic onto the ‘ageing agenda’. Listen to my fellow campaigner Kirsty Smallwood here on Woman’s Hour on Monday 1st September: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fyjq4 (Segment starts at 28:24) Jody x

  43. Hi jody
    I’m 51, married, menopaused, childless and having enjoyed my female friends company for the last few years since their children have/are in process of growing up I am now beginning to realise they are leaving again! They are now becoming excited enthusiastic and gushing grandmothers. I am once again down the line for meet ups, chats or walks… i was there first time around. I’m not invited 2nd time round as they evaporate into their children’s world and homes.
    I’m looking for new friends! I’m actually ok with this it was something I hadn’t thought about and needed to adjust my thinking on.

    • Hi Sally – thanks for commenting. The issue of being left out all over again when the grandchildren come around is a major topic. And also the whole media-mania that used to be just for motherhood is now for grandmotherhood as well! We have lots of GW Elders (childless women 50+) and a great way to meet them is through our meetup group or at the next Wisdom Day workshop. It’s important to get new childless friends to ‘plug the gap’ as it then means that we are happy to see our friends who are mothers/grandmothers on the rare occasions they are free, without feeling too resentful. I think the issue of friendships post-menopause is a really good topic to cover, thank you for the suggestion. Jody x

      • Hi Jody,
        The menopause and the almost instant ‘invisibility’ hit me at 46. – I was furious! I didn’t feel I’d even finished being a girl, let alone become ‘an old woman’!
        I felt very angry with older women generally, but especially my mother & friends, for never discussing/ preparing me for this ‘taboo’ subject. I feel it’s equally important as those early menstruation talks.
        When discussing it with other more glamorous friends, also experiencing the same thing, and suggesting more exposure, their unanimous reply was ‘not me’!

        • Hi F and thanks so much for your comment Yes, it’s yet another ****ing taboo about being a woman and the fact that we don’t remain young and fertile forever. I believe the taboo around menopause is another facet of ageism and sexism combined. I’m so glad that at least SOME of us aren’t prepared to stay quiet anymore! Hugs, Jody xxx

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