Updated: May 4, 2020
The Statistical age for the Menopause in the UK (other countries vary, so check based on your nationality/main country of living), is 51. This is the cessation of periods, the technical 'menopause', leading up to this is the whole host of peri-menopausal symptoms.
One thing leads to another when you're researching, so in looking up the benefits of a Wild Yam product I came across some quotes from Professor Stud, the Bio-identical Hormone Specialist that helped Carol Vorderman and I really liked what he had to say, so I'm borrowing his quotes and putting them here so you all have access.
Here, Prof Studd reveals how women can spot the menopause danger signs and get the best treatment...
How do you know you are going through the menopause?
The average age women go through the menopause is 51 – but pre-menopausal depression can be triggered up to 10 years before the transition begins.
At 54, Carol Vordeman was still having regular periods, but her sudden, extreme mood swings were unusual.
She says: “I had six months when I was really low. I’m not a depressed person but in that space of time I was genuinely depressed.
"I didn’t have any of those hot sweats and all of that kind of thing. I was surprised how it hit my emotions.”
Prof Studd says: “Apart from depression, there are things like cyclical headaches, cyclical breast discomfort and bloating, loss of energy and loss of libido.
“Hot flushes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, headaches, backache, thinning hair, flattened breasts and lack of sex drive are common – but it is depression, this profound depression, which so many women have.
“Menopausal transition occurs before your periods stop and the symptoms are fairly typical. It is most severe up to four years before your periods stop and is the worst time for menopausal symptoms.”
How do you know if you’re suffering from menopause-related depression?
Normally a “very stable” person, Carol didn’t recognise herself when the mood swings began. But she started matching her moods up with her menstrual cycle – and had a “lightbulb moment”.
She says: “I thought, ‘Perhaps it’s connected with the menopause’. Suddenly there was hope.”
Prof Studd says depression is often overlooked as a symptom of the menopause, especially in the pre-menopausal years, yet he sees two or three menopausal women a day with severe depression, around 10% of whom feel suicidal.
Pre-menopausal symptoms are the same as menopausal symptoms, says Prof Studd – so keep in mind the menopause before you hit your 50s.
He says: “Pre-menopausal symptoms may be cyclical. You might recognise with these cycles it is a hormonal, menstrual type depression. You might have 10 good days, then 10 bad.”
Do Blood tests prove anything?
The problem is, says Prof Studd, that GPs will often measure bloods as normal in pre-menopausal women who are still having periods.
He says: “They will have normal oestrogen. You must make the diagnosis based on careful history, such as post-natal depression, not blood tests.”
Prof Studd says the biggest issue is GPs failing to spot a hormonal trigger for depression and giving ineffective anti-depressants.
Carol says: “Anti-depressants may attack the symptoms, but they do not solve the problem. For me, they would have been the last resort.”
Prof Studd says women should tell GPs they want hormone therapy, insisting they are not depressed but have a hormonal problem.
He says: “A lot of doctors just don’t know about it. They would nearly always want to give anti-depressants, it’s easier – but it’s the wrong treatment.”
What are the advantages and disadvantages of traditional HRT?
Traditional HRT replaces declining oestrogen, and can relieve many of the associated symptoms of menopause. But Prof Studd says an addition of progesterone can work wonders.
He says: “The best and safest treatment is hormones through the skin – oestrogen and testosterone and the minimum amount of natural progesterone.”
He adds: “HRT prevents osteoporosis and can prevent heart attacks and helps women have more libido.
“The main disadvantages are that women will still bleed every month. The traditional pill doesn’t contain progesterone. Having progesterone is good for energy, mood, depression and libido.”
Are there any other natural ways you can tackle menopausal depression?
Other health professionals advise women to get a regular good night’s sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, reduce alcohol intake, and do regular exercise.
Prof Studd agrees lifestyle is important to control moods, but nothing compares to the replacement of hormones.
He says: “Not drinking and eating too much, and having exercise and a balanced lifestyle is very important.”
“There are positives of going through the Menopause – you don’t have any bleeding and your pre-menstrual depression will stop.
“Depression in women is different from men. Women have fluctuations of hormones at period time, at pregnancy, post-natal, and the menopause.
"It is a whole big syndrome, called reproductive depression. It’s pre-menstrual, post-natal and pre-menopausal.”
Excerpts taken from the Daily Mail, Emily Retter, May 2017