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Perimenopause: What Every Woman Should Know

It is important that every woman in their 40’s is aware of the perimenopause and the changes it will bring. Even if you feel you are way too young to be thinking about the dreaded M word, learning about the P word will stand you in good stead.

If you understand the vital role hormones have in your health, emotions and overall wellbeing you will be much better prepared to deal with the perimenopause, menopause and ageing process in general.

So in the spirit of forewarned is forearmed, here are 5 things I wish someone had told me when I hit 40!

1. It starts at 40 not 50

Sorry, you probably didn’t want to read that. However, I cannot over emphasise enough how important it is to listen to your body in your 40’s when changes in your hormone levels begin to occur.

You probably know that menopause is when you have not had a period for 12 months. But… you may not know that the six to thirteen years leading up to the menopause are when some of the most difficult symptoms kick in. I’m talking; hot flushes, insomnia, bone loss, mood swings, brain fog, irregular periods, diminished sex drive, breast cancer and unexplained weight gain. This is called the perimenopause. It usually starts in your 40s, but can start as early as your 30s.

Although most women experience the menopause at around the age of 51, it’s very likely you will have suffered some perimenopause symptoms from your 40s onwards.

2. It’s your hormones

Menopause symptoms are your body’s way of signalling that something is wrong, that you have a hormonal imbalance. Hormones regulate every bodily function, from your heartbeat to weight gain. Without them we would slowly but surely fade away and die! Perimenopause is in fact, the earliest stage of this fading process.

In menopause, oestrogen(s) and progesterone levels decline drastically. These female hormones, that are so famous for fertility in our younger days, should not to be ‘left out in the cold’ once we reach menopause, as they are key hormones and play a vital role in bone health; protecting against osteoporosis. They protect our skin, keeping it healthy and glowing; brain function, protecting against dementia; heart health, protecting against heart attack; vaginal and urethral tissues, keeping our sex drive in ‘top’ form!

When there is an imbalance of even just one hormone, it will adversely affect the others and may result in any of several menopausal symptoms.

3. Test your thyroid

After your fortieth birthday, it is important to recognise the symptoms of low thyroid (hypothyroidism). Low thyroid complaints include; joint pain, allergies, carpal tunnel syndrome, high insulin, unexplained weight gain, fibrocystic breast tissue, hair loss, loss of libido, dry skin and headaches to name just a few.

In perimenopause, declining levels of oestradiol (a type of oestrogen) and progesterone (both known as female sex hormones), along with testosterone from our ovaries, may leave a woman with a ‘go-slow’ (underactive) thyroid. Declining levels of female sex hormones may cause thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism. However, these are not true thyroid problems, they occur because female sex hormones are low. When oestrogens and progesterone are restored to optimal levels, in the majority of cases, thyroid issues will be rectified, thus, there would be no need to supplement with thyroid hormones.

However, about 25 per cent of perimenopausal women have some kind of thyroid problem. In the majority of cases it is due to subclinical hypothyroidism which may progress into overt hypothyroidism. Both subclinical and overt hypothyroidism should be treated.

4. There is an alternative to conventional HRT

There is not a one-size-fits-all woman. Therefore, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all pill. We are all different, we all metabolise hormones differently, and our hormonal decline varies from woman to woman. Therefore, we need an individualised treatment. HRT is a one-size-fits-all treatment. Bioidentical hormone restorative therapy (BHRT) is tailored to the patient’s requirements. We are all different – would you go out and buy a size 14 dress just because your friend did, when you’re actually a size 12?

5. Don’t dread the ‘M’ word

Contrary to the conventional menopause stereotypes that we often see in the media, you can have a happy, healthy, strong and sexually vibrant life, well into your forties, fifties and even beyond. The key is to get the right information early on.

 

The Menopause Cure: Hormonal Health. The book is available in good book stores and online at Amazon.

How attitudes towards the menopause and aging have changed

The menopause was once considered to be the first step on the road to becoming aged and less active. Not so today – now, modern healthcare techniques, lifestyle advances and a more equal social perception of mature women is making 50 the new 40!

These changes have filled our screens with female role models of a menopausal age that are living life to its fullest, such as actors Dame Judy Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson, US politicos Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama, or TV personalities like Oprah Winfrey and Carol Vorderman.

Restorative medicine is the natural way to live younger

So, what can we put this paradigm shift down to? Restorative medicine has played a leading role in helping women live younger, and especially in dispelling some of the body myths associated with the menopause. No longer must women choose between suffering the full hormonal collapse of the menopause, or finding a quick fix with generic synthetic treatments that carry concerning side-effects.

You can now take your life back into your own hands, balancing your hormones naturally at a level that’s right for you, helping to reduce or remove a whole host of menopausal symptoms, including:

Keeping your hormones at the right levels for your body has also been shown to decrease the likelihood of health concerns associated with ageing, such as heart disease and strokes. Restorative medicine lets you maintain your natural balance by using compounds that are bioidentical to those found within the body, coupled with a healthy and active lifestyle.

What is the new model menopausal woman?

Now that you’ve found a way to look and feel fabulous, what can a new-age menopausal woman expect?

1. Rediscovering romance
When you combine the freedom of kids fleeing the nest and retirement with the supple frame, enhanced look and sex drive that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can offer, you’ve got yourself a recipe for love.

You can get back to spending quality time or holidays with your partner or, if you’re single, take up dating again with a new confidence and verve – changing social dynamics mean there are a lot of good 50+ dating sites now available.

2. Pursuing that dream
Whether you’ve always planned to set up your own business, write a book, or just want to indulge a new interest, the clarity of thought and mobility that restorative medicine can offer are key to maintaining your performance at its best. It is now common to see lists in Forbes of ‘50+ entrepreneurs’ – evolving social attitudes to age are giving mature women increased opportunities.

3. Getting fitter
Restorative medicine recommends putting your increased energy and improved health to good use by keeping fit. There’s now a whole host of gym classes designed specifically for women over 50, or you can give the young guns a run for their money in combined classes or running clubs too.

4. Being an inspiration
Whether you’re playing actively with grandchildren, or achieving something that will be respected by friends and family alike, the sharp wit and dynamic energy that restorative medicine can help you keep will prove an invaluable asset to all of your endeavours.

With so much opportunity to make 50 the new 40, why not find out how you can use restorative medicine to get the most out of your active and fulfilling later life?

5 Perimenopause Reads for Menopause Awareness Month 2015

menopause awareness peri-menopause

For Menopause Awareness Month 2015, I am focusing on the perimenopause because it’s vital women are armed with information in their early 40s. Understanding the hormonal changes in your body and the role they play in your health and quality of life is the first step in dealing with the perimenopause, menopause and the ageing process.

Furthermore, I want to turn this life stage, that is traditionally considered negative, into a positive! I wrote the book, The Hormone Cure: Hormonal Health, to share my own experience of the menopause, the difficulties I faced and how I overcame them by restoring my body to optimal hormonal levels. I wish this information had been available to me when I hit 40!

Perimenopause

Let me tackle one misconception about the menopause early on. The menopause is when you stop having your period for one whole year. But… and not every women is aware of this… the six to thirteen years leading up to that are characterised by symptoms such as hot flushes, disturbed sleep, bone loss, irritability, mixed up emotions and mood changes, to name just a few. This period of time is known as perimenopause. It can be a difficult transition, not just for women, but also for their husbands, partners, friends, children, and the entire family.

Be Prepared

Although the menopause is a normal part of ageing, many women are not fully prepared for the symptoms. The symptoms are caused by fluctuating hormone levels. We are all different, so although your friend may experience hot flushes that leave her gasping for breath, you may not. Instead you may have migraines, brain fog or forgetfulness (one of my girlfriends drove off with her handbag on the roof of her car not just once, but almost every morning!)

For others, mood swings are a burden, not just for them but their entire family who have to tiptoe around on eggshells in order to avoid yet another unexplainable, wild tantrum.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Contrary to the conventional menopause stereotypes that we often see in the media, you can have a happy, healthy, strong and sexually vibrant life, into your forties, fifties and beyond. The key is to get the right information early on.

So, get informed now, read my 5 most popular articles on the menopause.

  1. I’m too young for this! Perimenopause is the precursor to the menopause no one tells you about. Read more…
  2. What to expect from the perimenopause. What to expect from perimenopause but more importantly, what you DO NOT have to accept about it! Read more…
  3. The emotional side of menopause. I often hear from women saying that they feel anxious, sad, depressed, or that they have lost something deep down inside, something emotional, something almost heart-rending; is it that they have lost themselves? Read more…
  4. What is oestrogen dominance? In perimenopause both oestrogens and progesterone levels drop. Oestrogens drop by 40% to 60% and progesterone levels can drop to nearly zero. Read more…
  5. Bioidentical Hormones Frequently Asked Questions. Everything you needed to know about Bioidentical Hormones. What is Bioidentical Restorative Hormone Therapy? Also known as Bioidentical HRT or BHRT. Read more…

Don’t forget to check out the signs and symptoms of menopause.

You can find out more about Menopause Awareness Month below.

menopause-awareness-month
Menopause Awareness Month

How do women cope with the menopause at work

Dont’ let it get the better of you.

“I am coming out, and have nothing to be ashamed of! I am stepping out onto the stage of life and shouting it loud and clear, “I am a menopausal women and I am proud of it!” I Am a MENOPAUSAL WOMAN… who restored her body and got her ‘mojo’ back, in its entirety. I got it all back and I can cope with anything. Yes, you heard right, ‘There ain’t no stopping me now’.”

Why is it that we feel we have to hide this fact? Maybe it’s because we don’t feel as good about ourselves as we used to, we are less confident, maybe because most people believe the definition of menopause is the end, old, finished – not so!

Maybe it is because we are less able to cope, and no one should know this. That’s a big one! I am so desperately sad when I hear from women who say they can’t cope, that they can’t keep up with their male counterparts, or younger colleagues.

“How do professional women cope with the menopause? How do women manage their high-flying career when they are suddenly hit with hot flushes, foggy thinking and/or mood swings, together will sleeping disorders?”

This is the question I am constantly asked. This is the question I am going to answer for you!

Hot flushes

What do you do if you are sitting in a meeting with a table full of men and suddenly a hot flush hits you? Do you perspire and suffer in agitated in silence, getting redder and redder, or do you excuse yourself telling your colleagues that nature has just presented you with something that is known as a ‘hot flush’ and you just need to step out and cool down a little.

No way. You hide it, you sit there and perspire, fidgeting in your seat. There’s no need for them to know that you are menopausal, that would just start the ball rolling. We do not have to suffer these embarrassing moments anymore, there is a solution. A safe solution.

Foggy thinking

What if you have to present that all important project that you’ve been working so hard on, and for so long, when you can’t remember your words. Not good when you need a high degree of intellectual control. This is a normal perimenopausal process, but needn’t be so debilitating .

We have a hormonal imbalance and our brain is rewiring. Who wants to lose their thinking power at 40 or 50. Who wants to let go of their experienced, efficient, sophisticate and more mature brain? We are at our peak, we are at the top of our career, why let go? We do not have to, there is a solution, a safe solution!

Emotions

What if you are suddenly overcome with weepiness or even heart-felt sobbing, for no apparent reason, when you are walking through an office full of people. Your professional self-esteem just hit the floor, but it’s not your fault – your hormones are playing tricks on you; you have an imbalance.

Whoever would have thought that hormones could play such an critical role in the body and be such a powerful molecule? They literally make or break us. This is why menopause can break us, our body is suffering withdrawal symptoms, our hormone levels are in a decline, and are no longer at optimal. Our body desperately needs those precious hormones to enable it to function correctly, as we did before we entered menopause.

Sleep

Sleep is so important to our health, without enough sleep we cannot function correctly, we become moody, angry, put on weight, are constantly fatigued, our energy levels drop, and in some case, we may even get depressed.

Without enough sleep our healing hormones cannot regenerate themselves, with insufficient sleep our hormones become imbalanced, with a hormonal imbalance we cannot sleep. How does that sound? It is a vicious cycle. It can work both ways! What we need is to regain balance. We need to restore our body.

Feeling lousy most of the time and having to hide it is not something women want but most of the time they do, either out of embarrassment, or out of fear of being seen as less competent. Would you ever go to HR to discuss this particular problem? Of course not! You’ve just put a black mark on yourself!

Is conventional HRT (synthetic hormone replacement therapy) an option?

In one word, NO!

HRT can help with hot flushes and night sweats, but the consequences (breast cancer, strokes and blood clots) far outweigh the benefits. The WHI study which finished early, in 2002, concluded that HRT did not protect against cardiovascular disease, strokes, cognitive loss, nor did it improve mood or sexual dissatisfaction. Do you consider this an option?

Is Bioidentical Hormones Restorative Therapy an option?

In one word, YES!

When you restore your body you restore yourself and every system in the body; mind, body and soul. Bioidentical hormones are life-giving hormones with no side-effects attached. With the use of restorative medicine you can glide through the menopause and onwards, to a new lease of life. There’ll be no more need to worry about your career.

Your brain will be sharp, quick-thinking and energetic – no more foggy moments. Hot flushes will be gone…forever! Your energy, lust for life and vitality will return to youthful levels – you’ll be better than your younger colleagues; you have far more experience and your brain is mature, remember, you can have it all? There’ll be no more crying or mood swings at inappropriate times – your professional-esteem will pick itself up off the floor. And you will sleep, blissful sleep.

And as an added bonus, you will lose weight and be able to keep it off.

A hormonal imbalance affects your everyday life and your career – it doesn’t have to. Restore your body! There is your answer. Don’t just take my word for it. Read up on the importance of your hormones here.