Speaking from her own personal experience, Sarah Maxwell looks into the stigma and concerns surrounding the menopause and perimenopause.
Perimenopause generally occurs in a woman’s 40s but can happen in her 30s or even earlier. With this in mind we need to be talking about it more!
The acceptance of the menopause was the most important thing for me. I remember my mum and her friends talking about it in hushed, almost ashamed tones – thankfully it’s now not a taboo subject and I’m wearing mine loud and proud!
It’s taken some time though – denial, confusion and frustration have reigned for a number of years. It didn’t cross my mind what was happening. I struggled with night sweats, anxiety, disturbed sleep and my mood to name but a few symptoms. Some people sail through it and some people don’t, so while we will all go through it, our experiences may well be miles apart.
As with so much in life, it’s important to remember not to compare yourself to others – we are all different and we need to stop beating ourselves up because of it! Easier said than done I know, but you will thank yourself for it later.
It’s more important than ever to look after yourself – with falling oestrogen levels our muscle mass and bone density starts to decrease and we are more likely to gain weight around our middles.
To help counteract this, I recommend introducing some weight training into your fitness regime as the more muscle mass you can build the more fat you will burn, even when resting. Body resistance training – squats, lunges and press-ups (yes, I did say press-ups!) along with some cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or running, are also a good way to work on building that muscle. To help bone density try weight bearing exercises such as HIT (High Intensity Training) sessions and Ballet Barre classes.
Many women rely on swimming for their fitness, but whilst it is a great all-rounder and can improve both your cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, you will benefit hugely from adding in both weight training and weight bearing exercises to your routine.
Eating well, exercising and making sure you are getting the right support, whatever treatment route you choose, are vital.
As for me, Self-love, Care, ‘Me’ Time, Relaxation and Fun are my new mantras – I fully intend to stop and smell the roses and live life to the full.
Sarah Maxwell is a multiple award-winning Fitness and Lifestyle coach and mum of two who juggles a lot of balls. Find out more about Sarah and her work at sarahmaxwell.com
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Anne Henderson explains what’s available for us during perimenopause and menopause
If I see a specialist privately for menopause am I still in the NHS system? Most GPs will provide NHS prescriptions for body-identical HRT if requested by a specialist like myself, and they are usually happy to carry out certain hormone tests as well.
If I start taking oestrogen do I need progesterone? Oestrogen-progesterone balance is essential in menopausal women who still have a uterus. Additional progesterone is not required in women who have had a hysterectomy.
What are your thoughts on the homeopathic approach? Herbal options are something I would strongly recommend, both as a primary and secondary treatment, and can be taken effectively in conjunction with conventional HRT.
I would always recommend that patients seek specialist advice from a fully qualified English Medical Herbalist, such as Anita Ralph (MNIMH) medicinetreeherbs.co.uk
If I ask to see a gynaecologist will they be able to help me with menopause? It’s important to note that you need to see a menopause specialist. A general gynaecologist will not have any training or expertise in the menopause and HRT as this is not currently a mandatory part of GP or gynaecological training.
Find out more:
• You can search menopause clinics both private and NHS throughout the UK at thebms.org.uk/find-a-menopause-specialist/
• My current favourite book on everything menopause is The good Menopause Guide by Liz Earle
Consultant Gynaecologist and BMS Accredited Specialist Anne Henderson runs clinics in Kent and London. firstname.lastname@example.org
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