Let’s demystify the Menopause – Birds on the Blog

Let’s demystify the Menopause

Taken from the book The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Menopause by Fiona Catchpowle

“Menopause is not a one woman job”

Menopause aka “The Change” is not rocket science. Periods start, periods stop. The end. Some women will not feel an impact from the hormone waves. However, the majority of women will experience “The Change” in such a way that will be confusing, concerning and chaotic. There will also be clarity and calm at various points along the way and it will be an enlightening experience.

But, when you’re in the midst of hormonal decline, why does it seem so complicated and confusing? Why don’t we talk about menopause as a part of everyday chit-chat?

“How’s your menopause going?”

“How’s your menopause going?” asked no one ever!

Successfully navigating the challenges that come with perimenopause and menopause is possible, with the right guidance.  All you need is practical advice and effective, sustainable solutions. 

Menopause does not coexist well with the many functions of day to day life. There will be peaks and troughs in the journey and sometimes great big tidal waves. There are lots and lots of inspiring qualities to come out of reaching this time of life, but for now we will help you get your kit together and deal with the here and now.

Basic definitions to be aware of:

Premenopause – some hormonal changes may be occurring, but there are no noticeable changes in your body

Perimenopause (around menopause) – the years leading up to menopause day, when certain hormones are naturally declining. This could be a 10 year span.

Menopause – tends to be used as an umbrella term, but is in fact one year without a period and lasts one day.

Postmenopause – the day after ‘menopause day’ and the rest of your life.

Menopause, aka hormonal decline and deficiency, is inevitable for every woman and it’s way more than hot flushes – and more importantly it doesn’t happen overnight and is a gradual process that can start around the age of 40. Whether you notice/experience/acknowledge and symptoms or not is by the by. The process is happening. Your ovaries are heading for retirement and your periods will stop.

You’ve probably heard of a few of the 30 plus symptoms, but what about the consequences?

Health Challenges

Maybe you’re not familiar with the long term health challenges we will face as women over the age of 40 and beyond, as our levels of oestrogen and progesterone in particular decline to incredibly low levels compared to what they there were in our early 30s. Health risks such as osteoporosis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.

Some commonly known symptoms are:

• Hot flushes • Night sweats • Mood swings • Tiredness • Poor sleep • Poor concentration • Lack of libido

Less well known symptoms are:

• Heavy periods • Muscle and joint pains • Hair and skin changes (such as dry or itchy skin) • Depression, anxiety and irritability • Memory problems • Panic attacks • Worsening headaches and migraines • Worsening PMS (premenstrual syndrome) • Vaginal dryness, itching or soreness • Pain during sexual intercourse • Urinary symptoms such as increased frequency passing urine

What are the potential risks to your health from the menopause?

Once we have reached our meno-moment and accepted we are perimenopausal (the years prior to your periods stopping) you may think that navigating menopause is simply a case of ‘putting up with’ or ‘battling through the symptoms.

There is no prize or gold medal for struggling with symptoms. No one is going to say well done for being in pain for years, suffering from anxiety or depression, and feeling like you have early onset dementia because of your hormone deficiency. There are many things you can do to manage your menopause such as lifestyle, mobility, nutrition and hormone replacement. I talk about the 360˚ Approach in my new book in more detail, alongside how it can affect relationships, mental health and how to budget for menopause.

In the last 4 years I have learnt so much more about menopause, and I absorb something new each day as my own journey continues. I have recently added Hormone Replacement Therapy to my personal health strategy for long term health benefits. Incidentally, I was not experiencing any particular symptoms. I chose to do so as a result of understanding the benefits versus risks to me.

It’s called having an informed choice. Working alongside a wide range of menopause related professionals has truly opened my eyes. The decisions I have made about what goes in, on and around my body have allowed it to do some rather impressive things – physically and emotionally; I learnt some aerial fitness skills the year of my 50th; reduced my weight by 16kg since I was 49 and kept it that way, created a new business, welcomed a second grandchild, and moved countries – to name a few.

My desire is that you take an active role in your menopause. Please don’t sweep this under the carpet. I wasted many years and probably put my life at risk by not learning about this soon enough. When I started to notice menopausal symptoms it took a long time to realise what they were related to. Retrospectively I think my peri-menopause started around 41.

The symptoms of unexplained tiredness and crushing fatigue were an absolute nightmare. I thought I was old at 46. Brain fog, anxiety, aches and pains were my new fashion accessories. Insomnia dictated my work life and irregular heavy periods everything else. I worked out, thanks to Google and various conversations with other women, what was going on but thought that ‘natural’ was the only option and you had to grin and bear it.  To be honest I felt judged if I mentioned doing it any other way. I changed my food, which changed my mood and I edited my exercise regime which gave me back my energy.

BUT what I now know is that I was still vulnerable to heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and dementia, because of my hormone deficiency.

My wish

My wish is that you enter the next phase of your life informed and knowledgeable about female health and wellbeing so your choices enable you to thrive.

Backed up by a team of experienced nurses, who are menopause specialists, the information I have collated in The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Menopause Volume 1 talks about a layered approach to living an energetic, confident Change in your life. I was really grateful to receive this fabulous review from Jackie Groundsell, 1230 The Women’s Company

Jackie Groundsell

“October this year sees me celebrate my 73rd birthday! I have osteopenia and take beta-blockers for atrial fibrillation – nothing too dramatic health-wise, nor impacting on my lifestyle too much. Ordinarily, I don’t broadcast this, but on reading The Menopause Directory book, it got me thinking – big time.

Around 53 (so 20 years ago), I visited my female doctor with what I thought might be menopausal symptoms. She told me that I’d just have to learn to cope with these. I felt uncomfortable in visiting her with this in the first place, now even more so. She didn’t want to put me on HRT, I hasten to add I was in agreement with that – dreadful thing HRT according to the press at the time.

I soldered on, additionally managing flooding caused by a lemon-sized cyst on a fallopian tube, which was apparently menopausal. This was monitored with scans for 2 years, medical diagnosis being correct and thankfully nothing to worry about. My Mum had everything “osis” to do with her bones. So there was a good chance I would have something in that direction too – nobody thought about that one then!

What an eye-opener reading TMD was! So much made sense. Possibly, had I taken HRT I may not now have osteopenia, (possibly leading to osteoporosis) nor atrial fibrillation, nor (and this is my diagnosis – beta blockers slow you/blood down) possibly would I have macular degeneration in both eyes.

For reassurance and action, I urge any female approaching/in their 40s to read this little book, packed with facts (not scare-mongery) and such sound sense. How I wish we’d had TMD then. Well done and thank you!”

If you’d like to know more about menopause – myths v facts – you are more than welcome to join my next Menopause Party via Zoom on Wednesday 9 September 2020.

I have a special coupon code for my new book, active from today, for 1230 TWC members during September 2020 – which happens to be Menopause Awareness Month.

The Menopause Directory

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