With just a few days to go before the release (on Sky on 9 December) of And just like that, the longed-for sequel to Sex & The City, let’s go back to an old line uttered by Cynthia Nixon joke to introduce a concept that has also been stressed by an renowned American gynaecologist, Jen Gunther, who, in her book The Menopause Manifesto, says we should not consider this moment in life the beginning of a relentless decline. On the contrary, we should consider it for what it truly is: a new phase to be explored.
Menopause represents an evolutionary advantage, Gunther points out, known in literature as the grandmother hypothesis. Humans are the only mammals, along with killer whales, whose females live for long after losing their fertility. And, as with killer whales, in the past the presence of a grandmother significantly increased the grandchild’s chances of survival, hence even that of the species.

Today, the value of a 50-year-old woman is no longer associated with her being a grandmother, but the underlying principle is still sound: menopause is a vital condition.
Technically, menopause is defined as the last confirmed menstruation, 12 months after its onset. All that happens until that stage is called perimenopause, a condition that can last several years, with remarkable hormonal fluctuations: it is a difficult period, which requires tailored and targeted solutions and physiological adjustments.

It’s like puberty in reverse, Dr Gunther claims: everything that started back then now stops. That’s why, just as 12-year-old girls are traditionally given an “introductory” talk to explain how their bodies are changing, all women aged about 45 should be prepared – without resorting to hypocrisy or being scared – for what’s coming. There can be irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes and sweating.
But there can also be everyday problems, starting with a typical early morning one: how should you dress for going to work? It’s time to acknowledge that the life of a menopausal woman has a public dimension to it. Plus, sexual intercourses may become painful. And the increase in visceral fat (particularly dangerous considering its proximity to the internal organs) should be kept in check with diets and physical exercise.

But you should also bear in mind that menopause is only one piece of the puzzle. All the physical changes, sleep and memory-related disorders, mood swings and changes in sexual drive may depend on hormones, but also on age, social and environmental factors, or other diseases.

This is why it is paramount to talk about it, among women, as we usually do, for femininity is a collective experience. We should also address the issue with doctors, scrolling off the embarrassment of feeling somewhat ‘flawed’. We should talk about it in the family, especially with the men of the household: let them learn how to handle us. And also on TV, on social networks, in films, in books, in the papers. That’s why it’s good news that they’ve decided to dust off Sex and the City 20 years on, because – as Cynthia Nixon/Miranda says – “the freedom that comes from no longer being fertile is enormous” and deserves to be explored.

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