Menopause – what’s all the fuss about?

Tuesday July 13, 2021

It’s 2021 and women are only daring to talk openly about the menopause.  An expected transition that was predominately called being in ‘the change’.  I can remember as a young girl my Grandma talking about it to my mum and overheard telling her to stop moaning, stop making a fuss.  “It’s what happens to women and we just get on with it.  It was the same for my mother and generations before her.” 

What was this ‘change’ she was talking about?  It almost feels like an analogy for a snake shedding its skin and emerging exposed, because the skin doesn’t fit anymore or because it’s old or worn out.  I’ve heard many women associating ‘death’ with this transition.  An end to the woman they once were.

What are the general changes a woman can expect during menopause?

There are many documented symptoms of the menopause but here is a handful:

·         Low mood or anxiety

·         Loss of libido and or vaginal dryness

·         Hair loss

·         Hot flushes & night sweats

·         Difficulty sleeping

·         Problems with memory and concentration

The stages of Menopause

The process happens slowly over three stages:

Perimenopause. Your cycles will become irregular, but they haven’t stopped. Most women hit this stage around age 47. You can still get pregnant during this stage.

Menopause. This is when you’ll have your final menstrual period. You won’t know for sure it’s happened until you’ve gone a year without one. Hot flushes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and other symptoms are common in this stage.

Post-menopause. This begins when you hit the year mark from your final period. Once that happens, you’ll be referred to as postmenopausal for the rest of your life.

Premature menopause

Menopause can occur earlier than expected for some women. If it happens before the age of 40, it is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). In some women, this can occur as a result of some form of surgical or medical treatment, and sometimes it can run in families. It can be very difficult for women to come to terms with a diagnosis of premature menopause, especially if they haven’t yet had a family, and were hoping to do so in the future.

How is menopause treated?

Globally I have noted different approaches but the common themes are as follows:-

·Lifestyle changes. A healthy diet and regular exercise program will help manage symptoms and boost good health. This is a great time to finally kick any old, unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking too much alcohol. To help with hot flushes, dress lightly and in layers. Avoid triggers like caffeine and spicy foods. And if you stay sexually active, that may help preserve your vaginal lining.

·Exploring alternative therapies such as Hypnotherapy, Reflexology, and Acupuncture

·Prescription medication for hot flushes or flashes (if you’re in the USA). If you still have your uterus, your doctor might prescribe treatment with estrogen and progesterone. This is called combination hormone therapy (HT) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It helps with hot flushes and night sweats, and it may help prevent osteoporosis. If you don’t have a uterus, you might get estrogen alone.

· Hormone therapy isn’t for everyone and is not recommended if you’ve ever had breast cancer, uterine or “endometrial” cancer, blood clots, liver disease, or a stroke.

· If you can’t or don’t want to take hormones, other medications can ease symptoms including antidepressants or blood pressure medications to help with hot flushes and mood swings.

It’s good to talk!!

Over the years I have worked with hundreds of women who have suffered immeasurably through the menopause and a key topic that emerges is a loss of purpose.  The question arises time and time again. “Who am I?” and “what’s my purpose in life now?”

Despite everything going on in what has become a ’new world’ to function in and the changes you are experiencing, it’s good to get your attitude in a good place first.  Without that life may feel chaotic and unbalanced.

Menopause Groups

September 2021 will see the start of a psychoeducational therapy group to address the menopause head-on. We will meet once a week for 1.5 hrs for 10 weeks with a week off in-between.  A brief assessment will take place to ensure your suitability.  For those women who are not quite ready to be in a group, we have a wonderful team of clinical placements in our Award Winning Social Enterprise, UK Counselling Network CIC. For further information contact me direct:  sally@ukcounsellingnetwork.co.uk or you can self-refer here.

I will be exploring the menopause in future blogs and if you have something you want to share about your experience then get in touch.  It will be great to hear from you. 

Website designed & build by Josh Benson