There is one certain thing I can tell you about the menopause, which is that your periods will stop – always assuming, of course, that you are a woman. You may also get hot flushes, and there’s a chance that you’ll feel tired and a bit depressed, but then who wouldn’t? Most of us have had a lifetime’s preparation in which we are taught to dread the menopause as a horrible event that will usher us into the anteroom to extinction. Invisibility comes first, of course, and some women seem to take a perverse pleasure in warning younger friends that they shouldn’t expect anyone to notice their existence after the age of fifty. The terrible prospect of oestrogen deficiency is enough to send millions of women to their GPs, often before they’ve experienced a single menopausal ‘symptom’.
I use inverted commas because so many of the things that women expect from the menopause also happen to men. They too get wrinkles, lose weight, gain it, become grumpy, lose interest in sex, wear inappropriate knitwear and experience sensations of hopelessness, but the attempt to create a