I'm thrilled that at the moment there is a real buzz about talking about the Menopause. Too long its been a background conversation, almost to the point of embarassment, which is crazy when 51% of the population is going to transition with these hormonal changes.
The rough statistics are that 30% will sail through and wonder what all the fuss is about, and to them I say 'Please don't judge others when you didn't have symptoms', as I met a few women like this, and they just don't know as they've not walked a mile in your shoes, or even years!
30% will get some symptoms and it will be easily alleviated, maybe because they've headed it off with doing some healthy lifestyle changes or maybe their anatomy is on their side :)
I'm here, as are all the emerging therapists, advisors and ambassadors (see megsmenopause.com) for the 30% that are going to really go through it... to hell and back.
I don't blame this group reaching for the first pack of HRT that they're offered and feeling the relief as it kicks in, it really is your choice, all I like to do is to give you some details so that you make an informed choice.
WHAT DOES HRT DO?
Over the last couple of years I've spoken to so many women between the ages of 35 and 75 and heard so many stories that there are now patterns starting to emerge that I can build on when passing knowledge about all things M on to you. More and more women I meet are having an early meno, in their 30s and at this age you need the hormones so take them.
So, firstly Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) puts a varying dosage of hormones Estrogen and Progesterone back into your body. Simply put Estrogen gives you great hair, skin and bone density, it gives you periods and keeps you fertile, Progesterone keeps you calm and sane! That's as indepth as I get on what the hormones are doing within you, and of course it's way more complex, but you can go read that else where :)
HRT puts you back into your 30s again, you'll have more energy and hopefully feel fantastic. Which is a wonderful reason to have it, but the serious reason to take HRT is your physical health, in your 30s you should have these hormones, this is natural, and you need them for so many functions and a predominant one is bone density, as women post menopause are especially prone to osteoporosis.
As we age through our 40s, both of these hormones are starting to decline, and this is natural too, our reproductive system is dwindling and so these hormones aren't required in the way that they were. In our 50s, they've hit an all time low and this is the Menopause, with night sweats, broken sleep and day flushes; which can all be alleviated to a certain extent with my therapy - just call me to chat about it!
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR THE MENOPAUSE?
A friend who is teetering on the brink of taking HRT said to me the other week, in a slightly exasperated tone 'So when IS the right time for the Menopause?' And my answer was 'Now, when nature intended it!'
Not sure it went down well, need to follow up on this :)
Another statistic - the average age of the Menopause in the UK is 51. This is technically when you stop having periods for 12 months (and you only know this, in hindsight).
My friend is 47, so is this the right time for the Menopause?
You're in the time frame for being very Perimenopausal, this can start producing symptoms up to 10 years prior to the main M, so we have to make a sweeping statement and say you can be PeriM from around 41.
Tiredness, leading to anxiety, overwhelm and low moods are the killer symptoms of the PeriM, they're the one's that get you going to the GP with 'I'm not sure what's wrong with me', and as you haven't got a sweat in site a lot of GPs will point you in the direction of depression rather than the Menopause. And, to be fair to them they don't have many tools in their kit box to help w a woman who is tearing her hair out and crying her eyes out if they don't offer HRT and/or Anti-depressants.
What they really need to offer is information, with an understanding of the nutrients that a Perimenopausal women needs - supplements like Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin B complex. They help sleep, calm your nerves, create good blood and about 3,000 other vital functions in your body as you go into hormonal melt down AND will make it more bearable!
MY FACTS ABOUT HRT
One of the points that is being made at the moment in all avenues of the media is that HRT can be taken indefinitely. However I don't think they know enough about the long term effects of doing this. I've met some women now 65-75 who have menopausal symptoms coming through even though on HRT and also in coming off it, can't get over the sweats and flushes. This is my main fear that in 20 years time this will be the current generation of 50 year olds and I won't be able to help you.
Another point is, when you do come off HRT, you WILL have a Menopause. I had this conversation the other day, a client is part way through hers now, the HRT will reverse this state, then when you come off you may have the symptoms in just the same way in the future as you have now. My thoughts are, deal with them now when you have the energy too. I know some women will laugh and say 'what energy?' but if you're like this in your 40s/50s, how will you handle it in your 60s/70s?
In coming off HRT, speak to your healthcare professional and they should be advising you to come off it very slowly, just like nature, Expect this to be 18 months or so, coming off HRT will be cold turkey and through your system into shock, just like having a Hysterectomy (and those women didn't have that choice).
My advice is this: to think about coming off HRT around 55, you've got over the national average, you've had a really good run with thicker hair and lovely skin and now it's time to deal with your body. The Menopause will never go away , and it can't be avoided, nature will take its course so I suggest you have yourself in the right state of mind to have your Menopause.
THE RIGHT STATE OF MIND
How do you know if you have this?
It's a point in your life where you look after you, I've always had the term 'Project Me', which I run from time to time for myself. This is where you respect that your body is changing, you can't compete with your 30 something self, and that this is fine. This is you passing into a new age of your life. Eating will change, exercise will change, you will get more sleep, you will say no to somethings you would have done previously. You'll diarise time to do things for yourself that nourish you in mind, body and soul.
The Menopause takes time, at the very least its a year of counting 'not having periods'. To take this time to 'Pause' means rethinking how you live your life, as you could be here for 10 years, to accept that it is going to happen, to allow the changes, seek help to understand those changes, and start putting some nutrients and TLC in to your body. Stop neglecting yourself and putting others first; this is your time!
So, the right time for the Menopause? It's now if you're 45 or over, this is the natural progression of your life. Trying to dam it or reverse it, and you'll be back here again at another time in the future, and possibly less physically able to cope.
Under 45 then you should really consider HRT and discuss with Health Professionals.
For those in the transition years and over 45 you can get phyto-estrogens (plant based) and creams that may support in some way, but the best way forward is the right nutrition and the right supplements for your age group (ask at any good Nutrition shop - we have The Nutrition Centre in Cheltenham).
I also strongly recommend Essential Oils - they're great for dealing with mood swings and hot flushes. Read my blog on them here: https://www.thenaturalmenopause.co.uk/post/essential-oils-for-women-s-health