Three years ago, beauty therapist Veena Nayyar, 49, thought her mood swings were down to juggling life and work – as did her GP! In The Menopause Monologues (the fourth in our series in conjunction with TENA), Veena explains how they were actually a symptom of menopause and shares her insights

This article is in partnership with TENA.

In my early 40s, life was on track. After years of working at Barclays, then Bupa, and being a make-up artist (MUA) on weekends, I became a fully self-employed MUA in 2014. Two years later, I launched a second business as a beauty therapist ( I was running a household with my two children (who were 18 and 23), while managing two beauty businesses. I was busy, but I loved it.

Then, two years later, menopause hit at 46 – except I had no idea what it was. My periods became irregular and I was having awful mood swings; crying one minute, then angry the next. To me, menopause was just hot flushes you went through in your 60s. So when my GP said it was just stress, I agreed. But over the next few months, my hair started thinning and my eczema flared up, causing dry, flaky skin. My bones weakened – I’d have to hold on to the sides of the sofa when I stood up after watching TV. Then the hot flushes started; sudden heat rising through my body until my head felt like it was going to explode!

I needed to wee every half hour, which woke me up in the night, as did the hot flushes, and I was scratching my itchy skin so hard my arms bled. Three or four hours' sleep a night doesn’t cut it when you’re working a lot of Indian weddings, which often require getting up at 2am or 3am. The exhaustion was driving me to tears. That’s when a blood test confirmed menopause.

I was given HRT patches and almost instantly, my symptoms eased. There’s a lot of fear around HRT, so my advice is stay clear of 'Dr Google', speak to your GP, do your research and make your own informed decision. For me, it’s been a lifeline. As helpful as HRT is, menopause has still been difficult to juggle with my responsibilities. I’ve cut back my hours, which is tough as a businesswoman, but it’s about tuning in to your body and listening to what it needs.

I learned that exercise can help manage symptoms, so I started walking every day. Then I slowly incorporated at-home workouts to build up strength, especially for my pelvic floor. I do ‘beginners’ workouts’ on YouTube three times a week and now I don’t need to go to the toilet every half hour. I feel physically fitter and mentally stronger, too. Just going for a walk can make a massive difference to my mood.

Being open with my family has been vital. My daughter and son live with me, and while they’re now 28 and 23 respectively, young people don’t understand menopause. My kids thought I was just being a dragon! So I sent them, and my partner, links to explain what menopause is and what I’m going through, as well as colleagues who didn’t understand why I suddenly had to have the office window open.

Many Indian women go through menopause alone or unaware. I know it can be tough, especially as it’s still taboo in certain communities. A few years ago, I asked my mum why she’d never spoken about her experience. ‘You just don’t talk about these things,’ she said. And society as a whole doesn’t talk about menopause enough, leaving women to enter this life stage uninformed and unprepared – just like I did. I don’t want that for my daughter.

Last year, I started opening up about menopause on my Instagram (@makeup_by_veena). Soon, I was getting messages from women going through the same thing, sharing their stories. It’s shown me that the more we talk about menopause, the less taboo it becomes, and the fewer women will go through it alone. It’s just another cycle of womanhood, and we’re all in it together.

One less thing to worry about

Ah, the midlife juggle – work, family, friends… menopause. We’re not going to lie, it can be hard trying to keep your cool (literally) and maintain your mojo. Let alone when your hormones are running riot, causing everything from hot flushes to mood swings, bladder leaks to energy drops. Which is why TENA wants to make your life easier. So if your bladder’s letting you down, as well as incorporating exercises like Veena recommends, add TENA Discreet Extra Pads Duo Pack (2x10 pack) to your arsenal for extra back up. Offering discreet, triple protection against leaks, odour and moisture, the unique InstaDRY™ technology means that wetness is drawn away from you, deep into the pad so you feel dry and comfortable. So you can go forth and continue conquering the world with one less worry on your mind.

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