Chris Evert has admitted that mood swings associated with the menopause were partly to blame for the break up of her 18-year marriage to Olympic downhill skier Andy Mill in 2006.
The 61-year-old tennis star opened up about her divorce whilst appearing as a guest on Lance Armstrong’s The Forward Podcast last week:
“We had a rough couple of years, because I married [golf pro] Greg Norman who was Andy’s friend,” she said.
“I don’t know, I was going through menopausal stuff that doesn’t get talked about enough – what women go through, you know, at 50ish.”
But Chris added that the couple remained on friendly terms for the sake of their three sons, Alexander, 24, Nicholas, 22, and Colton, 20.
“You know, Andy and I are still a family without living together. I think that’s the best way to put it,” she continued.
“We got back together as a family and we still do things and he’s a great guy. He’s been a great father to my boys because… He’s taking them fishing and hunting and motorcycles and golf and tennis – introduced them to so much.”
One thing that struck us here at Lumity is that Chris is right; women don’t talk about menopause and it remains somewhat of a taboo – especially in a world where very few subjects are off bounds.
We are compiling a report with the help of experts – which we will publish in the coming weeks – that aims to take the fear out of menopause and will help women approach it armed with the knowledge to get through that stage of their lives feeling happy and healthy, instead of miserable and as though they have no-one to talk to.
In the meantime, we talked to a couple of women and asked what things they experienced but weren’t prepared for, or that surprised them about being menopausal.
“People forget that things which are blamed on the menopause are often down to other factors,” says Lucretia Field, 51, from Hull.
“Like Chris Evert, I divorced my husband around that time of my life. I was tired, but that was because our kids were all teenagers, I went off sex, but that’s because I simply didn’t fancy my husband anymore and I was cranky and argumentative – but that is because my job was stressful, plus when I was at home my kids and my husband were driving me crazy.
“I made a significant life change. I polished off my CV and started a completely new but more exciting and fulfilling career aged forty-nine, and, I asked my husband to move out. He agreed, it was a case of we both knew it was over but neither of us wanted to admit it. And the kids seemed to pick up on the fact that both of their parents were happier living apart and seemed relieved that that there was less tension in the house and so they all then fell into line.
“The kids still see their dad, and like Chris and Andy, we all hang out and have fun together now as a loving family – instead of everyone snapping and snarling at each other.
“I’ve even got a new boyfriend, so I guess it’s a case of menopause came into my life like a tidal wave and swept away all of the negative energy and left only good in its wake. Change is good, and I have welcomed it.
“I’m not being dismissive of the depression and mood swings that come with menopause but there is a whole arsenal of medical help available for that – no-one has to suffer they just have to talk to their doctors – and if you view it as a positive time then you’ll have a less negative experience.”
And, others agreed that menopause can be a time that you prioritise your own health, after years of taking emotional and physical well-being for granted.
“I used to think in my thirties that I needed stress or that I had to be stressed out so I could perform at work,” says Georgina Rogers, 49, from London. “I was the sort of person who lived on adrenaline and would answer work emails at midnight and on top of that I would often be in the office at 7am. I put myself under so much pressure, I think I had a nagging doubt that if I didn’t I would be fired. I had no life outside of work but I told myself that it was necessary to get ahead in my career.
“Finally at the age of 41, I went into full-scale adrenal fatigue and just collapsed with exhaustion and depression for months – I had to hand my notice in because I couldn’t work in that state and I was miserable. I felt lonely and very down. A friend convinced me to try therapy, and thankfully I did, I also saw a nutritionist, started working out and I made regular trips to my doctor a must-do. I recovered, started my own business but working part-time only and I vowed that I would never take my health for granted ever again.
“I was peri-menopausal but because I made looking after my health and emotional well-being top of my to do list in my early forties, going through menopause hasn’t been bad – I sailed into it with few symptoms because I have minimised stress, balanced my hormones and I have regular acupuncture as well as taking probiotics for gut issues.
“It’s lovely to be looking after myself after years of thrashing my body and not thinking twice about it and I know I look better than I have done ever, because I feel so great and am balanced and centred – which is a first for me.
“I didn’t wait for menopause symptoms to take hold, I was proactive about fighting them and I think that might well be the key. I absolutely urge women to talk about this, do whatever they can to feel great and stop being scared of it all.
“Nobody loves having periods or PMT; the end of all that should be something we are thankful for.
“I have heard some women talking about mourning the end of their fertility but would you really want a baby at 55? A lot of women say they have the best sex of their lives in their fifties and sixties because for once they aren’t worried about getting pregnant and they’re more self-assured than ever.
“So maybe think about how great it all is to be reaching a new time in your life and it won’t be nearly as bad as you’re imagining it will be – nothing ever is when you stop and think about it.”
Look out for our report in the coming weeks.
Let us know in the comments if you have been through the menopause and how you coped or if there’s any questions that you’d like answered by experts?