The former Spice Girls singer, 47, spoke candidly in a new interview in the UK’s Times about how she and her partner of 24 years, Jade Jones, navigated the journey, which is marked by 12 months since a woman’s last period. Discussion of the topic has increased in Hollywood, with stars ranging from Drew Barrymore and Naomi Watts to Tracee Ellis Ross and Gwyneth Paltrow each sharing their own journeys through perimenopause, which refers to the time your body is making the transition to menopause.
Bunton, who rose to stardom as “Baby Spice” in the beloved British pop group, explained that she realized she was in perimenopause three years ago, at age 44.
“My desire, my libido, whatever you want to call it, it went and that really worried me,” Bunton told the Times. “Even after 24 years together Jade and I still really fancy each other, but instead of acting on it, it was more like, ‘Shall we watch the last episode of Succession?’ Or just ‘zzzzzz’ rather than ripping each other’s clothes off. And that fading desire is a big, big shock for a woman.”
In addition to a lack of sexual desire, Bunton struggled with other common symptoms of menopause, including anxiety and brain fog.
“Some days I thought I was going mad,” she explained. “I’d be crying or forget what me and the family did the previous day or I’d put my car keys in the fridge.”
Bunton’s family also noticed the sharp changes in her. Jones, with whom she has two children— Beau, 15, and Tate, 11— was initially puzzled by the changes in her, and said he “suffered” as a result.”
In order to manage her menopause symptoms, Bunton decided on HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and soon found herself feeling more like her regular self.
Dealing with a lack of libido
A declining sex drive, as well as discomfort during sex due to vaginal dryness, can be common symptoms of perimenopause. According to the North American Menopause Society, “During perimenopause, less estrogen may cause the tissues of the vulva and the lining of the vagina to become thinner, drier, and less elastic or flexible.” In addition, “vaginal secretions are reduced, resulting in decreased lubrication.” This can make penetration uncomfortable.
Despite the issue, there are a variety of means to deal with it, experts say. Women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider previously told Yahoo Life that there are a variety of methods, including using a vaginal lubricant to counter vaginal dryness.
Another popular option is estrogen therapy, which comes in several forms including gel, cream, vaginal ring, or pill, and can be prescribed in some cases to stabilize estrogen levels and help with symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Gabapentin, a seizure medication, can also help some women with hot flashes.
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen can also be beneficial.
What are the other effects of menopause?
In addition to sexual effects, many women experience symptoms such as hot flashes, irregular periods, fatigue and exhaustion, breast tenderness, insomnia, urinary urgency, and urinary tract infections. However, it’s important to note that the experience of menopause differs for many women.
Bunton’s experience, which included mood changes, anxiety and brain fog, are also common effects. Brain fog, in particular, can cause a lot of distress for women in midlife who are at the peak of their careers or raising a family, Yahoo Life previously reported.
Dr. Sameena Rahman, a gynecologist and women’s health specialist at the Center for Gynecology and Cosmetics, told Yahoo Life, “Women are used to multitasking when all of a sudden they can’t remember the word that’s trying to come out of their mouth or remember what something is called.” This can have significant effects on women in the workplace, with a recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings determining that 597 women, or 13.4% of those who participated in the survey, said they had experienced at least one bad outcome at work — meaning they quit, retired, were fired or missed hours or days of work — due to symptoms of menopause.
As for Bunton, she told The Times, “If your partner is not on your side, I can’t imagine how you get through it. I hope we can tell other women it will be OK.”
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