Why EVERYONE Needs to Understand The Menopause

There’s been a lot of conversation around Menopause recently.

You may have seen Gwyneth Paltrow raising the subject and trying to change the way its talked about and perceived. And you also may have seen a BBC programme with Mariella Frostrup a few days ago.

Now whilst both of these events aren’t necessarily covering all aspects and you may not agree with some of the approach, I strongly believe that conversation around the Menopause has to happen.

Taboos have to be broken down. We have to stop seeing this as an embarrassing situation that is never spoken about.

And unfortunately I think some women are part of the problem.

How many times do we all chat about our birth stories, our C-sections and everything that follows? We share, we chat and we discuss.

But do we ever open up to our girlfriends about how we’re feeling during perimenopause and menopause? I’d say probably not, but why?

Is it because the Menopause is perceived as a time when women get all hot and sweaty – not a particularly sexy occurrence I agree, but it’s so much more than this. SO much more.

The notion that the Menopause is a sad time when women lose their fertility and get very hot has to change.

If you aren’t aware of what happens, and it’s quite likely you aren’t it might come as quite a shock. I know I certainly wasn’t prepared in my 40’s.

Perimenopause can last 10 years. It can start in your early 40’s, or even earlier, and bizarre symptoms, conditions or illnesses you never had before might start to cause you problems. You’re often not aware that these odd symptoms you’re experiencing are related to perimenopause.

Now the Menopause itself is actually the time when you are period free for 1 year, so relatively small in comparison. After this you’re post menopausal.

So what about the symptoms? Well there are LOTS. Over 50 I believe.

Some of the common ones include flushes, low mood, anxiety, sleep disturbances, joint pain and brain fog or forgetfulness. These are on their own can be extremely debilitating.

Imagine being at work, perhaps making a presentation to your work colleagues and being crippled with a hot flush and not remembering the most basic of words. It happens. And sometimes women simply have to give up their jobs.

Brain fog has hit me hard.

I have been scared to death in a car park when I simply couldn’t figure out how to get to the next level. I couldn’t remember how the car park worked!

How can I not do the most basic of functions – drive? And in a car park I’ve visited 100’s of times. It’s incredibly scary and batters your self-esteem hugely. You start doubting yourself, second guessing your decisions and wary that you may have said or done a seemingly new task before.

Other symptoms can include dizziness, fatigue, hair loss, loss of libido, irregular heartbeat, allergies, itching skin, breast pain, headaches, incontinence, bloating …. oh and there’s more. What fun!

In my experience and from talking to a lot of other women in the peri or menopausal stages, there just isn’t enough support from GPs. Many have no clue how to help or treat us.

The first one I chatted to (a man) said he couldn’t help as he was the wrong gender! And I’d presented some alarming symptoms but he sent me away after my 5 minute appointment with the promise of a blood test. (Blood tests are inconclusive and not recommended by the NHS when you’re at the perimenopausal stage by the way).

I quickly changed surgeries and found help elsewhere but this is not an uncommon problem. Many GPs simple don’t have the training or knowledge to be able to help.  And those that do, often prescribe anti-depressants as a first resort.

Now I’m not knocking them at all, they have their place and can be hugely beneficial, helping hot flushes and aching joints too, but perhaps they’re prescribed all too quickly. How will they help all the other symptoms?

Anyway, do watch this video below. It’s produced by Become – a brand that promotes the discussion of the Menopause and sells clothing to help combat hot flushes. It’s a way to open up the conversation.

Let’s keep talking. If you’re struggling with perimenopausal symptoms, tell someone. If you’ve never realised you are, do some research, reach out to others (feel free to drop me a message) and let’s open up the conversation. It has to be a good thing.

I’d love to hear and know your thoughts on this. What needs to be done to help us? Leave me a comment below.

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Let's start the conversation about the Menopause. Let's break down the taboo. Ask the quiestion, what is the menopause? Do your research, understand it and talk to your friends. Are you in perimenopause, do you know the symptoms? Click through to find out more #menopause #perimenopause #stylebrief #wellness

Jen x

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5 Comments

  1. November 28, 2018 / 12:22 pm

    I watched the bbc programme and was a bit disappointed as I had thought it would go into more detail. However, I am so pleased they made it as it all helps to make this topic more main stream.

    I am 44 and I believe I am peri menopausal. I have been experiencing lots of new, strange symptoms but have struggled to find an “idiots” guide where I can check if they are to be expected or something to worry about.

    I also have depression and take medication for this which can add to the confusion about symptoms. Am I experiencing thus because I am peri menopausal, because I’m depressed, because of the medication I am on, because there is an underlying health problem or all of the above?!

    Thank you for posting about this. Let’s all keep talking and, maybe, we will get some answers.

    • Jen Stanbrook
      Author
      November 28, 2018 / 12:35 pm

      Yes I agree about the programme Miriam, it was a little disappointing with too much focus on the hot flushes etc. We need to make people aware that there’s so much more that goes on than just getting hot!
      I’m the same and have had weird things happen to me over the last few years – the medical profession still isn’t convinced I’m perimenopausal – so if they don’t know what hope do we have!
      This is a good website I think and helps explain it all really clearly – https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/
      Thanks for your comment x

      • Miriam
        November 28, 2018 / 5:28 pm

        Thanks, I’ll check it out.

  2. Amanda
    November 28, 2018 / 10:02 pm

    Hi Jen, thank you so much for starting this conversation. I’m 44 and have been suffering with a lot of these symptoms over the last couple of years. I was put on medication for anxiety which took over my life, had a blood test as my doctor said it sounded like I was perimenopausal. Blood test came back and a different doctor said I wasn’t perimenopausal and only thing they could do was put me on birth control pill to regulate my periods. Everything I go to doctors about gets put down to my anxiety and they keep trying to get me to go back to a mental health organisation for help. My hubby and I both think I’m perimenopausal, it’s driving me mad!

    • Jen Stanbrook
      Author
      November 30, 2018 / 12:35 pm

      Hi Amanda, thanks so much for your comment. I’m not surprised your GP has responded like this, I think it’s so common. I’ve had a few ailments that I’m convinced were related to being perimenopausal and the GP was so dismissive. Maybe see another GP for another opinion? the NICE guidelines on the NHS website are useful too. Unfortunately GPs aren’t well trained in this, and blood tests can vary wildly when you’re perimenopausal – GP’s are meant to respond to your symptoms rather than rely on these. Stay in touch x

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