Symptoms. We all know there are 34 of them, we’ve heard what can be done to ease them, and most of us have experienced them.
But we don’t necessarily go through all of them (or at least we can hope that we don’t). What symptoms do you look for and how you diagnose the menopause? Which is the best way to navigate through all the information and what do you really need to know?
Kathy Taylor tells us that her menopause onset was about the age of 43, lasting 4 years, she was very teary, brain fall, anxiety, palpitations. She didn’t know what it was at all and she had seen so many specialist (psychiatrist, neurologist) that when she finally saw a gynaecologist telling her she was perimenopausal, and she was relieved, she was thinking she was going mad!
The problem seems to be that GPs are prone to prescribe antidepressant instead of proper menopausal therapy, which actually does not make things any better. This happens because GPs do not receive enough training on Menopause, and cannot always recognise the symptoms as menopause.
Will I recognise the Menopause?
This is one of the most common question.
Diane Danzebrink, a menopause expert, said that one of the common myths around menopause is that you have to have hot flushes and then your period has to change. Period.
This is what doctors tell you and if you don’t have those then it is not menopause. Age is also a fluctuating factor in the menopause, but if you are considered “too young” to be menopausal then this is a hypothesis they don’t even consider. But as we know now, perimenopausal symptoms can start in the early forties. There are also few people talking about the psychological symptoms instead a lot of women thinks they are going mad!
People associate joint pain and aches with getting older, and don’t realise that this could also be a menopause symptom. The repeated UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), for which you are taking a lot of antibiotics, are not put down to menopausal symptoms. Symptoms related to vaginal dryness, sex, loss of libido are not even shared between friends because it is still considered a taboo and seems difficult to talk about it. (How many times did we say symptoms so far?)
Let’s recap : Menopause.
Perimenopause is all the time between your first symptom until the 12 months (and 1 day) in which you don’t have a period. If your symptoms are not the classical ones, you probably don’t even recognise that what you’re feeling is a menopausal symptom. Usually you can notice it at work, you have foggy brain and it takes longer to address a task.
Clinically, menopause is that 1 day, and everything after is post menopause. But some women in post menopause are still having symptoms. With perimenopause, we would like to think is all over but it is not the case. Some women in their seventy are still experiencing hot flushes. We never get a break ladies.
Since we are living longer, you need you be healthy and in a good shape even during those years. Being on HRT for some women gave back their life. Not for all of course, as everyone is different.
Oestrogen though, is involved in limbic system, and logic, and the lack of oestrogen scrambles your brain. The brain is so oestrogen receptive that during menopause you are basically starving your brain! So, when you are on HRT you are feeding it again! Perimenopause is very chaotic, your hormones are up and down up like being on a rollercoaster. It is very insidious, and this increases the anxiety because you have no idea how it can be from one day to another.
If you have teenage kids, your parents are ageing, you’re taking care of everyone, your brain it is just a mess!!
What women always wonder is…
…Why is there not enough information about the menopause? Maybe because before the issue was different as we weren’t living as long, and menopause was happening even later, so it wasn’t taking up such a big portion of people’s lives. Instead now, with increased life expectancy and high functional society, we cannot “afford” menopause even in working terms as a lot of women need to keep working for financial reason.
It can also happen that you experience no symptoms. So at this point, should you take HRT? Well this is an open debate, but it could be a good idea since HRT diminishes the risk of cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and it has many other positive effect on our health. Well, if you think about it, we take statins to lower the cholesterol, but we have no real symptoms of high cholesterol. It is all about the individual.
And of course, there is also the local oestrogen which are very convenient and with no side effects. Women should know about this opportunity so they can make an informed choice, probably this is the whole point, knowing what is available for you. You cannot really say you have no symptoms as some of them are gradual and sometimes you adapt to them, but if then you start taking HRT you may notice the difference.
Even if you take oestrogen while you still have periods (and therefore are perimenopausal) you will not become oestrogen dominant. Sometimes you get high peak of oestrogen, and they are on and off, but the fluctuating oestrogen gives you the horrendous symptoms we all know and definitely don’t love. HRT will stabilise this fluctuation and the average levels of oestrogen will just be normal, you will NOT become oestrogen dominant. Even the risk of breast cancer is not increased. It is anyway more the progesterone that can increase the risk of breast cancer, not the oestrogen. The problem is, there is not enough knowledge about HRT safety it is mostly whispers. The benefits of taking HRT far outweigh the risk in most women, the earliest you take them the better it is. The risk of breast cancer is anyway very low. Therefore lady, get informed!
Osteoporosis. This is another symptom that you have no idea you have it, which is why it is also called the silent disease. Therefore, if you don’t have a scan, you will never know it is going on in your bones. So, you cannot really say: I have no symptoms, sometimes you have to go looking to find them. In some countries, they give HRT as prevention. There should be much more information about it!
Allowing women to make an informed choice about their menopause, is the goal for the near future. That’s why The Menopause Matters campaign has been created. And if you haven’t signed the petition yet, you should be asking yourself why … (SIGN HERE)
Menopause campaign has 3 aims which will cover the area where we have knowledge gaps.
The aims are:
1) GP education, we need GPs to be very informed. I guess it would be necessary for everyone going to medical school. We don’t expect GPs to be able to do the very complex work that is done in menopause clinics but at least recognising the symptoms. Basic stuff. It is not difficult to achieve.
2) Guidance in every work place as there are more and more women in the workplace, and they are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace. (Hopefully with the recent guidelines for the menopause in the workplace released by Acas will leverage somehow this objective).
3) Menopause included in the area of the new RSE curriculum. This has been successfully achieved 9 months after campaign launch.
The campaign is currently going very steadily, and we will look forward for the days all the goals are reached.
So while we get on with our lives this week, the take home message is that today we have much available information on the menopause, and therefore don’t have to be suffering alone nor in the dark. We’ve been provided much tools to be fully armed on going to our GPs on that first appointment that may change our lives. Also for those of you looking for ways to tackle some of the most uncomfortable symptoms without using HRT, you can look into natural alternatives and to some of the MM intimate beauty range where all products are natural, organic and vegan. And also The M Blend for some help with the psychological symptoms.
MM Intimate Beauty Range
You can ease some of the symptoms by trying my MM Range, products include lubes, cooling spray, supplements, and more.