BRIGITTE WOMAN: Mrs. Burkard, we women have no problem talking about pregnancy, sex or our days, only when it comes to menopause, we often do it privately. Why?
Katja Burkard: Because many of us think we belong to scrap iron, which is no longer looked at by men. Pregnancy means a new life, happiness, because we share experiences with enthusiasm. Menopause, however, shows us an expiration date, so we don't like to talk about it. There are even women who hide husbands, that they are in menopause – as if it was a bad disease.
Many men think that women are becoming hysterical now.
This idea has a long tradition. Hyster is the Greek word for uterus, and hysteria has been considered a typical female disease since antiquity. Many men now think they have to look after their wives, some have seen their mothers, menopausal grunts, who have become bitchy, insidious women. But I think male insecurity also has something to do with their fear of a midlife crisis, old age, of the changes that come with it. Even if they are much longer fertile than women.
But the midlife crisis does not sound as asexual as menopause.
I think they both sound not very sexy. But that's not the point. This time also has other major challenges for both women and men. It is especially inspiring for women to no longer be fertile. Many can no longer believe their feelings, suffer from mood swings, I have experienced it myself.
Have you openly addressed your partner, daughters and menopause?
No way! For a long time, however, I didn't realize what was happening to me. I was so excited about the little things, I couldn't sleep well. Once, after work, I had to take the shipment to the post office and thought: I can't take it anymore. I yelled at my kids in an impossible way – so much so that in the end I had no voice. Even today, I'm embarrassed. I felt like a foreign being in my head. For a while I thought I had depression, but I'm usually a good-natured, handsome person. I was completely different than usual, but because I didn't have hot flashes, I didn't think I was caught by menopause. I would rather take hot flashes.
But it wouldn't be so funny in front of the camera.
That's right. Maybe my body was smart and it saved me.
Did your family not kindly inform you that you may be in menopause?
I already did, but I didn't let it come to me. When I got menstruation only irregularly, I thought it was the result of many sports and weight loss. I participated in the "Dance" show and trained hard. It was fun, but also stressful. There was a pivotal moment when I crossed my head over the red traffic light. The Jeep had to brake suddenly, the driver got out and yelled at me. The man watching the scene said to me: Don't worry. This is just anger during menopause. Suddenly my money fell.
Did you then take something, hormones or herbal remedies?
I immediately took bioidentical hormones and after two weeks I came back. I was calm and balanced, I could trust my perception again. It was like breaking a switch. I take these hormones to this day. In the meantime, they can even laugh at themselves and menopause.
Can you understand that many women do not take hormones because they are afraid of the risk of disease?
Of course. For example, if a woman has breast or ovarian cancer in the family or someone has a higher risk of thrombosis, I find the fears fully justified. But there are also many women who have severe symptoms and still feel that their body has to do it completely without hormones or herbal remedies. In my opinion, one needs to be educated more about menopause – also about what causes untreated physically and mentally.
Did you exchange with your friends on the subject?
Weird and not so much, though we usually talk about everything: men, quarrels, psychotherapies, Botox, infidelity, who with whom, financial problems … In fact, there are almost no taboo topics – except menopause. In between, I even wondered: am I really the only sister who has a problem with this and everyone else is going through it like nothing is happening?
It sounds like there is pressure in menopause performance: those who master this easily are brilliant and tough.
If women say they do a great job, it will put at risk those who have problems. Several women who do not suffer from menopause simply have great luck. I think we need to show solidarity and share experiences. We should talk more, with friends, mothers and daughters, instead of feeling alone during this time. After all, we're all in the boat. Even in public, the problem must persist more.
In "Sex and the City," the topic at least took over when Samantha came to menopause in the early '50s.
True, but there was little in the media at the time about Samantha's menopause, but again it was about elegant suits and men. There are many guides in the book market, but there are hardly any books in which a woman talks openly about her menopause. In magazines or on television, the topic barely happens. In the twenty-three years I moderated my show, Point 12, I felt that every conceivable gynecological issue was changing, from painful periods to gender change, but there was no menopause. Isn't that crazy? In Germany, there are about twelve million women aged 40-59 who are menopausal or have just been through them. Although the subject affects so many women, it does not seem to be massively compatible.
How openly have you dealt with the topic at your station? Did you also say: I cannot come today unfortunately, I have symptoms of menopause.
No, I was ashamed to death. I didn't show anything in the business.
When you entered menopause, your 14-year-old daughter entered puberty. Was it hormonal super-GAU?
You can say that. We worship each other all the time. My daughter was in the same mode as me: she didn't want to see that she was currently in a special phase. My younger daughter is just starting puberty. She's lucky because I studied a hormonal emergency and now I have a lot of understanding for her. He benefits from becoming a late mother. For most women my age, daughters are already at puberty.
How has the change affected your relationship with your partner?
We had a serious crisis. It was because I was suddenly questioning a lot. There were a lot of unspoken and unprocessed things in our relationship that built up and now they had to go. For example, the usual discussion was about everyday organization. My husband travels a lot during the week, I take care of the children and the household. He would often come home on Friday and at that time wanted to reorganize everything. I found that disrespect for me. He felt disconnected again and felt he was not allowed to say.
How did you resolve the conflict?
We have dealt with each other a lot during this time and I am very glad that he thought so constructively backwards. I might be more disenfranchised with my emotions, so something went wrong. I asked myself and many questions: Do we really agree, do we still love each other? Do we want to spend the rest of our lives together? Do you still like who I am now? In principle, my menopause saved our relationship.
Would you say you thoroughly questioned your life during menopause?
No, overall, I'm very happy with my life. But the difference is: I no longer want either half measure or lazy compromises. I think most women in this transition period are like this: you can only deal with things that have been bothering you for a long time. His life needs to be purified.
Where did you store it?
I need harmony, I rarely say no, I don't like to argue. I am what I call "terrain," so very adaptable. In childhood, I was always a sun that spread good humor – even in a restaurant my parents operated on. With menopause, I realized that this role was limiting me, I just wasn't always in a good mood. And today I take up appointments if I want to be alone with myself.
Have you become more critical of yourself?
Instead of the other way around. I used to be my biggest critic, I was strictly accepted if I failed with this or that. Today I can relax much better. I am clearer and know that I can believe in myself. I learned what self-confidence really means.
Don't you owe it to aging too?
It goes hand in hand. I think I really need that nickname to launch something. No wonder nobody talks about menopause.
But there are many women who suffer first and are happy when it's all over.
That's right. Nevertheless, I believe that no woman at this stage of life should be powerless. Everyone should take extensive advice to know better what is going on and what they can do. Unfortunately, too few doctors really know about hormones. I interviewed a well-known hormone expert, Professor Johannes Huber, for my book. He says: Many women with mood swings would be referred to a psychiatrist and given psychotropic medication. They actually lack hormones. That's incredible!
Do women really have to live with the fact that sexual desire fades into menopause or is it prejudice?
Of course, the hormonal change in desire for sex can only be less. But it doesn't have to be that way and it doesn't have to stay that way. There are studies showing that women between the ages of 50 and 60 have the best sex in their lives. They know what they want in bed and what they don't want. After all, they no longer have to fear pregnancy and menstruation is no longer in vogue. They don't think so often about whether they should look good during sex and may have to let go of the gut. Having a positive relationship with yourself can be more appealing than a young, crunchy body.
You are now in your fourth menopause. What is your previous conclusion?
I always listened to my gut, but I often had doubts about whether I could follow those feelings. Today I know I'm allowed to. I take more care of my needs. In the past, I was primarily concerned that my family was okay, today I take care of my own needs more. I'm more in tune with myself than when I'm in my 40s, I feel more authentic. That I can experience all this very consciously, thinking about it, I feel like a privilege. Unfortunately, my connective tissue is no longer as strong as my character.
Katja Burkard she was born in 1965 in westerwald, her parents owned a restaurant. Since 1997 she has been moderating RTL's lunchtime magazine "Punkt 12", her trademark is Lispel-S, which, according to her own statement, does not bother her. Burkard is in a relationship with former RTL editor-in-chief Hans Mahr, with whom he has two daughters. He lives with his family in Cologne.
Her book "Menopause? Don't Panic!" published by Blanvalet-Verlag (240 Seten, 15 Euros). Your top 5 menopause tips are revealed by a leader here.
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