Prolapsed bladders. Sex over 60. Should the truth about ageing be revealed?
PUBLISHED: 15:06 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:22 12 April 2019
Sharon Morrison thinks so. Her thoughts on ageing will certainly raise a few eyebrows
When your kids are young, you’re there, always ready, willing and able to advise them on the physical changes that are coming their way, so they’re well prepared.
That’s one of our most important jobs as parents and we’re amazing at it, covering a lot of territory from puberty, periods and acne to shaving, testicular self-exams and sex… but what about us? Who’s on hand to prepare us as we get older, live longer?
Speaking from personal experience, there isn’t a resource where we can gather the information to help us weather the changes that come with ageing, and I’m talking about the changes we can’t easily discuss over a coffee, or are too embarrassed to talk about at all because we think it’s abnormal.
So, we learn as we go along, often putting up with something that can easily be dealt with. W
hen I was telling my kids about some of the changes my body had been undergoing recently, my girls felt faint and my son covered his ears and hummed a tune; OK, a prolapsed bladder isn’t the most edifying topic of conversation to have with your kids, but they’re all in their 20s and now they know what could come their way and how to deal with it.
Thinning bones is another one. It may seem a long way off, but three years ago I received one of the biggest shocks of my life when I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Me, someone who’d been running 16 miles a week for 12 years. Perhaps someone somewhere should have advised me that after an early menopause (brought on by chemotherapy at 48) and the removal of my ovaries three years later (a risk-reducing operation due to my BRCA1 diagnosis), the total lack of oestrogen would be a major contributory factor to my thinning bones. Worse still, as oestrogen is vital for all over tissue health, your vagina will atrophy without it and you’ll be more prone to urinary tract infections.
I read somewhere that a woman between the ages of 60-66 has the best sex ever, so I’m now using topical oestrogen (you know where) to get the tissue healthy again and, who knows, I might actually have sex.
Allied to ageing, from your 30s upwards, is the loss of muscle mass, which is more pronounced if you’re inactive. I’m not inactive but my frame is markedly smaller, and I have still lost two inches in height. To make sure I don’t become the amazing shrinking woman, I’m now taking challenging (well, for me) circuit training classes three times a week to build core strength and stamina, and a yoga class once a week for flexibility and to regain my sense of balance - I can no longer put on a sock without backing into a wall or sitting down - and I want to avoid falls and fractures.
Sleep’s important too, but I’d been having a broken night’s sleep for years as I had to keep running to the loo, even when the only thing left in my bladder was the incredibly strong urge to ‘go’. I thought I was stuck with it but just after Christmas 2018 I went to the loo eight times in one night; I was so sleep deprived I made an appointment to see my GP and she prescribed a pill ‘for your waterworks’ that has been nothing short of transformative. Yes, sometimes I have the urge to go, and I really, really have to go, but six nights out of seven, I’m sleeping like my kids (thank you Tolterodine)!
I’ve been on a quest to gather the information that will prevent or lessen the adverse effects of ageing; I can be proactive, for the most part I’m reactive, and that works too, which shows it’s never too late to make a start. Why am I doing this? To enjoy my life for as long as I draw breath and to let as many people as I can know what’s coming and how to handle it.
For me ageing is just a progression from puberty and periods, it’s good, it’s bad and occasionally it’s unmentionable, but we’re all getting older, so we have to deal with it, what’s the alternative?