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First Step to Understanding Menopause

Where it all begins

So let's start at the beginning of it all. When a woman starts peri-menopause it can very easily be overlooked. Many women say that their periods barely change, that they put their mood down to stress or just feeling low and quite often doctors won't identify the issues as menopause or, what commonly happens is that women are prescribed anti-depressants which on the NHS website is a big no no for a menopausal woman.

Having watched Davina McCall's documentary 'Sex, Mind and The Menopause' I learned that 7/10 women will experience brain fog and 40% of women going through peri-menopause have no idea of the mental effects it has on them. You often hear people making snide remarks 'Is it her time of the month?' or 'Has she hit that time in her life?' but what they probably don't realize is there is a far bigger and more amazing science behind it all that we are never taught about.

With the population of the UK being 51% women, it's a wonder that we have been so misguided and kept in the dark for years regarding our physical and mental health. We have been left behind to fend for ourselves and to fight for our rights as business women, teachers, parents and human beings. But fortunately due to work like that of Davina McCall, Menopause Experts and other groups around the country, we are starting to see change.


The most common signs of menopause are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Joint pain
  • Tingly legs

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Women have been struggling on for generations, not having the right support or know how to deal with these serious issues because of the shame that has shrouded the topic for far too long. Women have started breaking the chains of medical quite and the results are amazing. There are now free courses for health care professionals to get up to scratch with menopause and HRT (Hormone Treatment Therapy) and more and more work places are setting up support groups for women which for many, has been a literal lifesaver.

With new research flowing out, women are starting to find the help they deserve. Statistics show that 9/10 women felt that the menopause had a negative impact on their work life, and 51% said it had a negative impact on their sex life.

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So why is this happening to us. The simple answer is oestrogen. When we start menopause the estrogen from our body and brains quite literally gets drained out of us which is critical for brain function, sexuality and regulating our body temperature. So how do we fix this? There are a number of treatments that are available, the most common being HRT which new studies have shown that taking it as soon as you became peri-menopausal will help to decrease the long term effects such as Alzheimers by 50-80% along with helping with the common side effects of the process.


Woman To Woman

Some of the stories I heard from the women I spoke to were truly heartbreaking, and for me, it just went to show how well symptoms can be overlooked and hidden.

One woman said 'I felt lumpy, with zero energy and had awful brain fog, not remembering names or what I was doing. We joked I had early Alzheimer... It felt like something had taken over my brain. I finally realized that I was peri/menopause, sought help, went onto HRT to help with current symptoms and to reduce long term issues with hormone loss.... menopause is finally getting discussed everywhere which is brilliant, no longer discussed in hushed tones'

Another spoke on the serious lack of medical help available to her when she said 'A lot of women think they're seriously ill, I was one, and get offered either no support (male doctor) or antidepressants (young female doctor). I finally went on HRT, best thing I ever did medically.'

Speaking with my house mate who later reflected in our conversation 'No symptoms yet beyond feeling quite mentally vulnerable / unstable.... speaking of normal, I am so up for normalizing talking more about this stuff! It was great talking about blood clots with 'C.' (or rather in front of 'C') the other day. It needs to happen more.' 'C' is another resident who often feels the weight of the feminine world on his shoulders living with six other ladies amongst the long grass and hidden valleys of rural Wales.

Finding the ways that work for you

I know that all of these facts are scary and that it's probable that you wish you could just skip this bit, but if you spend an average of 10 years menstruating I'm sure you can do this. If you know the facts, you know how you can fix it.

These simple things can help you get through:

  • Frequent movement/ staying active
  • Talking with people - find a support group and eat cake
  • Looking into both prescibed and natural medicine to find your best fit
  • Making sure that the clothes and lingerie you wear are comfortable and breathable
  • Find new yummy recipes for healthy eating
  • Keep your brain active with a new hobby or paper puzzles

And remember, we are all in our lives going to go thorugh this or already have. At least in this day and age when you are burning up, it's not bcause you have been tied at the stake as a witch like they used to do.

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