It was my eldest daughter's 17th birthday yesterday and I had been wondering how to make it special in lock-down. Turns out it was one of her best. Luckily she appreciates experiences more than material things and the day was packed full of meaningful gestures. Gift 1 - a morning family cuddle with the puppy in her bedroom. Gift 2 - a walk with us all in the beautiful fields and woodland that sit behind our fence. Gift 3 - a moving video made by her mates on what they love about her. Gift 4 - surprise social distancing visits sprinkled throughout the day. Gift 5 - a video birthday party filled with love from her extended family over a home-made afternoon tea. And so the list continues. Lock Down has decluttered life, making way for us to enjoy the simple but abundant pleasures that surround us. A gratitude mindset is going to be essential as many of us live off a shoestring. This involves being present in the moment, being curious and opening our senses to all that are around us. What are you grateful for today?
SPENDING ON YOUR HEALTH & WELLBEING ISN’T AN EXPENSE, IT’S AN INVESTMENT
There are a few reasons for why women don’t sign up for our courses with the most common one I hear being “I’m not there yet.” It’s a human tendency to resist making changes until we are at a point of distress. We tend to associate menopause as being in our late fifties and sixties and yet our hormone levels start dropping and fluctuating in our late thirties, for many of us. 1 in 3 women hit a brick wall with menopause, usually in their late forties when symptoms are multiple, frequent and severe and collide with the pressures of work and home life. These women talk about ‘losing themselves’, ‘being deeply unhappy’, ‘feeling isolated’, ‘lacking confidence’, ‘drowning in a wave of anxiety.’
However, 20% of women claim not to have any symptoms and guess what? They are the ones more likely to be proactive about their mental wellness, sleeping well, exercising daily and eating healthily, and dealing with change.
Here’s a question. If you were told you have diabetes and it would become debilitating over time without making some adjustments, what would you do? I’m guessing, you would follow doctor’s advice – change your diet, cut down on alcohol, maybe lose excess weight. So, why is perimenopause that is a certainty, any different? If we invest more seriously in our wellness once we hit 40, we are not only likely to cope with hormonal imbalance better but also set ourselves up for ageing well and making the most of our later years.
I understand that we are busy, under strain looking after our families, feeling financially insecure. This makes us focus on surviving rather than thriving. But with lock-down being extended, we’ve been given a welcome opportunity to consider our needs and re-evaluate our approach to health. One thing we can control is our wellbeing and the way we deal with change. By arming ourselves with knowledge, we can better ensure that we age well, rather than feeling dragged along. So, which would you rather choose – a rocky road (not the biscuit variety!) or to make your midlife rock?
BEING ON HRT IS NOT A FAILURE
There are approximately 13m women peri and post menopause in the UK and yet, according to recent stats, only 1m who are on HRT. This may be partly down to women who have had cancer treatment, a history or genetic predisposition to blood clots, heart or liver disease or strokes and are not able to have HRT. However, 42% of us never visit a doctor or other healthcare professional to seek help or support with our transition, despite women describing the experience and symptoms as worse than they had anticipated. Apart from women’s innate nature to ‘get on with it’, another barrier to HRT is fear around the link between HRT and cancer. Women’s Health Concern have published a fact sheet around the risks of HRT, explaining that the findings released in 2002 were based on studies with flawed samples (post-menopause women in their 60’s, many with underlying health issues) and old style HRT that is no longer in circulation. The general consensus by the medical profession is that HRT is the most effective treatment for women ‘suffering’ with symptoms with the majority of women’s symptoms being alleviated or managed within a couple of months. Whilst most women in the UK prefer natural ways & lifestyle adjustments to enhance their health, the reality is that this doesn’t work for everyone. If you struggle with will power or are finding the natural route is not enough, please seek medical help with a doctor or menopause specialist. You should see this as an important step to investing in your long-term health, relationships and improving your quality of life. Your age, symptoms, health history and whether you have a uterus will all be taken into account with what treatment you’ll be prescribed.
A FEW FACTS
If you are over the age of 45 years, you shouldn’t be asked a hormone test to assess if you are in perimenopause, as diagnosis should be based on your account of symptoms. As most women experience fluctuating hormones in their early 40’s, hormone tests are not accurate and can lead to misdiagnosis or the wrong kind of treatment
If your symptoms are vaginal, then you will be offered the option of a topical oestrogen cream, tablet or ring which does not have risks associated with HRT or a moisturising cream
There's growing evidence that HRT taken before 60 years of age reduces the risk of strokes, cardio-vascular disease & osteoporosis
Estrogel (Estradiol – 0.06%), a gel, is an oestrogen format that is flexible in its dosage, easy to apply and doesn’t have side effects or risks that tablets & some patches have
Micronised progesterone (Utrogestan) is a new kind of progesterone which is body identical, made from yams with lower side effects. It has no increased risk of breast cancer for the first 5 years of taking it and after then, the increased risk is debatable (Source: Dr Louise Newson - Menopause Manual)
Be wary of private bio-identical health clinics. They charge a fortune for hormone testing – this gives the impression of individualised care but unless it’s for testosterone, is unnecessary & inaccurate. Bio-identical progesterone, like Utrogestan is also made from yams but has no clinical evidence to suggest effectiveness and are unregulated – if you want to find menopause specialist that abide by recommended health practice, visit the BMS website
For most women, mental symptoms can precede physical ones. HRT should always be prescribed as the first treatment to try, ahead of anti-depressants, unless a medical condition or history precludes the prescribing of hormone treatment
If you liked today’s tip and would like to learn more, please register interest for our 4-week HALO course where you can share stories and learn with others – email@example.com
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