I had one of those penny drop moments on Tuesday. On a swelteringly hot day, I was sitting at a talk hosted by Wellbeing of Women. They are a charity that dedicates itsself to funding research that will improve the lives of us, our daughters, mothers, aunts, friends and sisters. I generally haven’t the time for fancy charity lunches but I DO MAKE TIME FOR WELLBEING OF WOMEN events.
I always come away from their events so much better informed about issues that will affect me and all my friends and family. This week was the topic of the Menopause. To be honest, I have wasted so much time trying to dress this up or use other ‘more appealing’ words but that is the crux of the issue; lets call it what it is, the menopause. All of us women will go through it, simply, it is a stage of life. It happens in our prime middle years and we may wear Topshop and look like a 30 year-old but inside our body clock cannot be held back.
The more you say it the easier it gets. In the beginning I was scared that by saying the word people would assume that I was menopausal (I’m not yet but that’s irrelevant), clearly, I will be at some stage in the next 5 to 10 years.
Hot flushes, anger, lack of sleep and just being old were the thoughts that jumped into my mind and probably yours when I first heard and considered the word menopause.
Not any more! I feel informed and comforted that it is just like having my period or trying for a baby. A stage that will have its ups and downs, but with proper information and support of my family and friends, it will be fine. Also there are treatments that will dramatically improve our quality of life and alleviate symptoms.
If you are in your 40’s like me, you will already start to notice changes (does not mean you are perimenopausal) but it is time to get informed so that you know what is going on.
Facts I picked up:
- The menopause occurs between 45 and 55, the average being 51 in the UK – it means the stopping of your periods, driven by a decline in oestrogen levels
- Perimenopause is the start and begins typically in your 40’s with periods becoming less regular
- Women are said to have gone through the menopause when they have not had a period for 12 months but symptoms can last for about 4 years from your last period. Everyone is different in the same way that we all had varying reactions to pregnancies or reactions to periods
- It is the drop in oestrogen that causes the symptoms of flushes, anger, anxiety, forgetfulness, joint pain and lack of interest in your partner, just to mention a few…
- You can counter this by taking HRT. The experts were clear not to be frightened to ask about this (in my books it is like having an epidural). It is a choice every woman can make themselves; weighing up any small potential risks versus sustaining a quality of life. Not everyone needs HRT as some women just don’t have symptoms which require intervention. Check out the NICE guidelines for more information on this, I have added the link below
- Being fit and coping with stress are key because cortisol created by stress means that your adrenal glands are busy so your body creates even less oestrogen making symptoms potentially worse
- Food is of vital importance. You have to keep your blood sugar as balanced as possible, as fluctuations (caused by eating infrequently or by consuming too much sugar) cause your body to make cortisol, which again effects your hormone balance. This is one area I am going to be doing lots of research
- Also I learned (as I have been prescribed them for heavy periods) that bio-identical hormones are not regulated. I was prescribed a progesterone, but there is a big discussion on-going on the effectiveness of these pumps in alleviating heavy periods
Where to find more information, as I am no expert!
- British Menopause Society
- Menopause Matters
- Check out Kirsty Wark as she has made the most informative and entertaining program, which really helped dispel lots of the myths, and gives you the low down
All this information comes from the talks I have attended hosted by Wellbeing of Women, please check out their website and donate if you can as the money goes to research to improve the quality of all our lives. I know I want my daughter Luella and my friends and families daughters to have better treatments, help and information for cervical cancer, childbirth, pregnancy and all reproductive issues. Only 2.48% of publically funded money goes to reproductive health and childbirth. This is an often overlooked and underfunded area that affects all of us so let’s get behind Wellbeing of Women.
A big thank you to Kirsty Wark for forever making me confident about saying the word menopause out loud. Huge appreciation to Professor Mary Ann Lumsden, Dr Heather Currie, Mr Nick Panay and Professor Myra Hunter as well as Jackie Lynch for taking the time from your important work to inform us so well and for tirelessly campaigning and working to support us in menopause. I will be booking in to see Mr. Panay to help with my symptoms and also visiting Jackie Lynch to get more detailed advice on diet and I promise to feedback what I learn.
I will be hosting an event in London, with a friend, where we will be inviting a real expert to give us the low-down in early October. Please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you an invite.