It’s not just the menopause that makes a woman’s 50s the hardest decade of her life _ daily mail online female menopause mentors

For my 40th I was in a glider, exploring the thermals over the mountains of Southern California with Vernon and my parents (we were living in San Diego and my parents were visiting from the UK for a fortnight).

I threw a party in my small Yorkshire garden for family and friends, the sun shone and we had a wonderful day. Late menopause transition I had a tennis-themed cake, people brought champagne and even though I’d woefully under- estimated how much food we’d need, it didn’t mar the day.

But as I sat alone that evening among the debris of the party after everyone had gone home, I began to ruminate on what it actually meant to be 50.

I realised it was the first big birthday where more of my life was behind me than in front of me. Perimenopause and menopause The menopause couldn’t be far off, bringing the curtain down on my fertility and ushering me into a greyer world of thinning hair, a thickening waist and the loss of a huge part of what it means to be a woman.

The joyful chapters seemed to be behind me, not ahead – happy family holidays in Robin Hood’s Bay, leaving home for university in London, driving across the States at 21 in a beaten-up Chevrolet Impala, then blagging my first job on a local newspaper in Yorkshire.

Love affairs and long relationships seemed to be a thing of the past – I had celebrated my 30th and 40th birthdays with a partner, but was a long-term single on my 50th – as did the forging of new friendships.

I have always been close to my parents but my father, who is 78 next week, is in failing health and my 75-year-old mother has become his carer. Pregnancy during menopause age I know that the closeness we have shared over the 52 years of my life, and for which I am eternally grateful, is in its twilight, and that one day soon they will be gone.

In the meantime, that shift in roles between elderly parents and their children has begun for us, requiring a fundamental reassessment of our relationship. When does menopause start Seeing my strong, stoical parents compromised by ageing is as sad as it is inevitable. What age is menopause start Bearing witness to it is also, I realise, preparation for that stage in own my life.

This gave me pause for thought that May night nearly three years ago – and nothing since then has dissuaded me from my belief that the 50s are the toughest decade for a woman.

So there we have it. Symptoms for premature menopause Forget falling in love, getting engaged and then married, and starting a family. Perimenopause age 40 Forget being at the pinnacle of one’s career and earning potential. What age does menopause typically begin Forget boundless energy and rude health. Perimenopause spotting It all comes down to a bus pass – and we have to wait until we’re 60 for that anyway.

The menopause is a milestone in any woman’s life. Treatment of menopausal depression I’m not lucky enough to have had children: I left it perilously late to start trying, then ran into health problems that made it impossible for me to have a family.

Nonetheless, the menopause is the end of my fertile chapter and significant both physically and emotionally. Age of early menopause symptoms It’s another goodbye.Friends who have been through it have warned me that it heralds major changes, from immediate symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, headaches and insomnia, to life on the other side where libido is lost, fat gathers round the middle, hair thins and memory is impaired.

I’m not overweight but I can already see my body shape subtly becoming more barrel-like. What age do you get menopause symptoms I was never a raving beauty but I was always confident of my looks when I was younger, and liked to think I could turn the occasional head.

Now I am invisible. What age does perimenopause start Even on a good day, hair done, make-up and best dress on, the only head I might turn probably belongs to a man old enough to be my father.

Wrinkles abound, even in places I didn’t think they formed (my cleavage!), I look permanently tired despite sleeping so much that one friend nicknamed me Rip Van Winkle, and I seem to live in a world of biopsies (most recently on a freckle on my nose) and mammograms, of minor ailments, aching joints and waning energy.

My friends and I spend a lot of time grumbling about being in our 50s, only partly in jest. Male menopause definition I am not typical in that I have never been married or had children, but I’ve come to realise that being a wife and mother is no bulwark against the challenges of ageing.

Many of my friends have children who are flying the nest for college, university or first jobs away from home, leaving parents who have spent the past 18 years focused entirely on raising a family wondering: what now?

One friend fears for her marriage, now that the diversion of children has gone. Male menopause ‘My husband bores me to tears, if I’m honest,’ she admitted recently. Early onset menopause ‘He probably feels the same way about me. At what age menopause stops After 22 years of marriage, what’s left to say when you have virtually nothing in common?’

The same friend lost her mother four years ago, and her father has Alzheimer’s. What is the average age of menopause onset She has gone from caring for children to caring for a parent – a fully paid-up member of the Sandwich Generation.

She and I sometimes talk about the autumn of our years and what might happen to us. At what age is menopause over My friend speculates that her children will put her into a care home at the first opportunity but rarely visit. After menopause hot flashes I say I’ll book myself in next to her and we can spend our days being grumpy together.

Before then, though, we both need to eke out a working life for at least, in my case, another 13 years. Menopause dizziness headaches My friend is in a better position: she has worked as an NHS nurse for 34 years, so her generous final-salary pension scheme kicks in at 55.

I have been a freelance writer for nearly 15 years and have no pension provision at all – my fault entirely. Pregnancy after menopause possible But I do have a Plan B. How to diagnose menopause with labs When it comes to retirement, I’ll manage financially by downsizing and living in my dotage off the profit I make on the house I live in now (though I may need to eat cat food to eke out that sum).

Between then and now, I must earn a living. Normal menopause symptoms Like so many people struggling in these straitened times, I have concerns about that, and about whether I’ll remain fit and well enough to continue as I approach my next big birthday.

I know I’m not the only middle-aged woman facing financial fears and injustices. Menopause and pregnancy signs Women in their 50s working full-time earn 20 per cent less than men – a pay gap that means smaller pensions and is the widest of any age group. What is the age for menopause We earn an average of £11.99 an hour, but men of the same age are paid an average of £14.69.

That is if we’re lucky enough to be in work. Normal age of menopause in india A friend who was made redundant recently at the age of 57 says she doesn’t expect to be able to work again.

A journalist of 35 years’ standing, she has applied for work as a flight attendant and a taxi driver since her redundancy, and was surprised that she didn’t get a letter back acknowledging either application.

So, assuming we survive the rigours of our 50s and make it to our next big birthday, many of us have penury to look forward to – and a longer working life before state pension provision kicks in, if, indeed, the state pension still exists by then.

Of course, I shouldn’t complain. Average menopause age in india Many of the issues I face are simply the creaking inevitabilities of reaching my 50s, and if they are all I have to contend with, I realise I should consider myself lucky.

I took my father to the cemetery recently to visit his parents’ graves, and was struck, reading the headstones, by how many of the new graves were for people who had died in their 50s – some of them people I remembered from my schooldays.

So I know I should count my blessings. At what age do you start menopause Last time I grumbled to my mother about being 52 – I was having one of those increasingly frequent days where I just feel old, from the minute my eyes open in the morning – she offered a sage response.