The 18th October is world menopause day
The International Menopause Society is marking the day by publishing a report encouraging women to “have a health audit – and take action at the time of the menopause to avoid chronic diseases in later life.”
Baypoint's Fitness Manager Shani has very kindly shared her thoughts with us:
"I am a woman the wrong side of 40(I’m 48) and I started
going through the peri- menopause at the age of 44. It all started with a
few subtle changes and ones that I hadn’t connected to being
peri-menopausal. I wasn’t sleeping very well and was
constantly tired, I was getting up several times a night to use the loo, I
couldn’t think clearly and had brain fog, forgetting silly things, being unable
to explain myself and getting stuck on words. After 6 months
I went to see my GP and asked if I could be tested to see if I were
peri-menopausal. His response was, you are too young for that.
The hot flushes
were coming on thick and fast and adding to my night time woes the night sweats
began. Oh my god!! It’s not until you experience these in all their
glory that you really understand how awful they are. The hot flushes would
come out of no-where, making you strip layers off as fast as you can,
regardless of what the temperature was like. AS quickly as you strip off,
I would then get freezing cold and clammy, so then I am rushing to get my
layers back on. It sounds laughable to me now, but really this was no
joke. This would happen randomly, numerous times throughout the day and
night. My already poor, disrupted sleep, was now starting to deteriorate
into being awake more than I slept. The anxiety was stepping it right upl. I was aware of how I was, but was
incapable of controlling it. I was comfort eating, and eating all of the
foods that I advise people not too. This lead to an increase of fat(
about 8lbs) around my middle that I couldn’t shift. My mind-set was
negative and miserable. Life felt so awful and I was weary with it all. I reluctantly
went back to the DRs and requested a female DR. This was my changing
point. She listened, she empathised and she did not dismiss me at
all. I left that day with a prescription for HRT and this is the
day that my life started to change. After two days of taking HRT my
anxiety levels reduced enough for me to start seeing the world through clearer
eyes. I felt more motivated, ready to make changes to my life that would
enable me to function and live my life. The one thing that I did do, was
tell people around me (family, work colleagues) how I was feeling. Speaking out
loud about it gave me some control over something that had previously been
controlling me. I was fully open about it. I started to sleep
better, the hot flushes and the night sweats stopped – HOORAY! I was
starting to feel – dare I say it normal again!!! I started to change what
I ate, stopped drinking alcohol (I wasn’t a heavy drinker but had been drinking
wine to try and sleep – which didn’t work), set myself challenges to see what
my body could achieve. My partner said the difference in me was
amazing. I am now 4 years into being peri-menopausal and I am in
pretty much total control of my own body and mind. I can’t say that every
day is amazing, but when life gets tough and I a more able to cope.
I have lost the belly fat, achieved strength, flexibility and fitness goals
that I never thought I could, let only in my 40s hurtling towards my 50th
Overall I am a happier, nicer person. MY advice to
anyone who is suffering – TALK to someone, see your GP. I am based at
Baypoint so please come in for a chat if you can relate to any of this and you
want some advice or just someone to sound off to. I only suffered a
handful of symptoms compared to some women but what I did suffer really
impacted on me and my life."
Press release from the International Menopause Society:
Doctors call for women to take action at menopause, to prevent health problems in later life. Actions taken at the time of the menopause can avoid chronic diseases in later life, according to a report on women’s health marking International Menopause Day (18th October).
Around one third of a woman’s life is lived after the menopause. The age of the natural menopause among women in developed countries is between 50 and 52 years, whereas, in less developed countries, menopause often occurs in the late ’40s. In the decade after the menopause, women become vulnerable to chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease), and cancer; so the early postmenopause years provide the opportunity for women to take preventative steps to steer a positive course for their future health.
For all women, the report of the International Menopause Society stresses the need to consider; lifestyle measures (healthy diet and physical activity) prevention of weight gain being involved in mentally stimulating activities
Lead author Dr Roger Lobo said:
“The main message we want to put forward is that, at the menopause, women have a chance to take steps which will help determine whether they go on to live a healthy and active life. There are some conditions, for example osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, which are clearly directly associated with the menopause, whereas others are more associated with increasing age. Menopause provides women with an opportunity to review their health and lifestyle and to make changes which will benefit their future wellbeing”.
“Many of the measures a woman can take are simple, but effective”, he continued. “Do a little more exercise, eat a little less, if you consume alcohol, do so in moderation”.
The report emphasises that, in consultation with their clinician, women should undergo regular health checks for chronic conditions including cancer and heart disease. The report also considers which pharmaceuticals can benefit women going through the menopause. Heart disease kills more women than any other condition. Starting the use of estrogen and certain types of MHT (Menopausal Hormone Therapy, also known as Hormone Replacement Therapy) within 10 years of the menopause, or under the age of 60, has been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease and all-cause mortality (this probably does not apply to starting MHT later in life).
As lead author, Dr Roger Lobo said;
“Various studies have confirmed that estrogen and certain types of MHT are beneficial if started soon after the menopause. Interestingly, data is emerging that some medications commonly used to prevent coronary heart disease, such as statins and aspirin, work well in men but not in women – most of the trials have mainly involved men. So MHT may be the best treatment to help fend off coronary artery disease in women. Of note, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. A consensus has developed that, in the right population, the benefits of MHT outweigh the risks. For women who have had a hysterectomy – around one third of women in developed countries -the effects of MHT are mostly positive. For the rest of menopausal women – that is women who are within 10 years of the menopause, or under the age of 60 and who have not had a hysterectomy – the risks are generally few in comparison to the future health benefits.
IMS President Rod Baber said
“The main message is that women should use the menopause as a reason to have a “health audit”, so that they can have an active say in how they are going to live the rest of their lives. The concerns regarding MHT have become more tempered over the last decade. The consensus is that it helps most women both with menopausal symptoms, and with their future health, but needs to be targeted. In many ways, it is similar to the debate which is currently going on about breast cancer screening, which also benefits most, but not all women. You need to see your doctor and decide what’s right for you. Like all medicine, really”.