WHEN you’re sitting in a bus stop on a chilly evening and suddenly decide to take off your coat, jumper and scarf, people think you’re mad.

But that is exactly what I did the other night, while waiting for the Number 5. Those standing with me raised their eyebrows and one even asked me, “Aren’t you cold?”

“No, I’m boiling hot,” I replied, as I sat there in a thin cotton top. Moments later, however, I was hastily putting my jumper, coat and scarf back on as I shivered with cold.

I haven’t got a fever – such dramatic changes in body temperature are apparently what happens to women of my age. Hot flushes, they’re called, and let me tell you, they’re weird. One minute you’re feeling completely normal, and the next you feel like you’ve just hacked your way through a tropical rain forest.

The heat envelopes you in a wave, and the worst thing is, you become so hot you go red in the face – it’s not a good look.

It is, I’m told, all part of the menopause, what people call ‘the change’, when your body alters in ways that are about as welcome as a clout around the head.

I’ve been reading about what to expect: insomnia, mood swings, skin thinning, fatigue, swellings, muscle cramps, increased appetite – I can’t wait. It’s bad enough standing in a packed commuter train feeling like you’re being roasted alive. I don’t want the additional problems of muscle seizures, extreme exhaustion and a desperate need to hijack the snack trolley.

From what I’ve read about ‘the change’ – when levels of the hormone estrogen drop – it’s downhill all the way. The dozens of symptoms that can strike at any time can even include a sore tongue – not what you want when your main hobby is chatting – and a craving for sweets, which will amuse my confectionery-crazy seven-year-old nephew.

I’m joking, but seriously the effects of the menopause can seriously hamper women’s lives. Who wants backaches, headaches and palpitations? Anxiety is a common symptom – no wonder, with all these conditions waiting in the wings. I’m not looking forward to night sweats, and my cat, who often sleeps alongside me, definitely won’t like it.

I’ve tried to avoid looking on the internet. One glance delivered a list of about 50 vitamin supplements I should take daily to ward off symptoms. Basically, I’d need a standing order of at least £100 a week with Holland & Barrett. No wonder this thing brings on nervous attacks.

But it’s not all bad. I already suffer from irritability, so there’s no change there. And a personality change, which some women suffer, would be welcomed with open arms by my husband.