Menopause and me

At the age of 40 after a few years of not being well I underwent a full hysterectomy.  The side effects of having the operation led me to suffer with endless urine and kidney infections often making me feel like it had been a complete waste of time as this went on for several months after. I also suffered with abnormal liver readings which were spotted through me having blood tests as my skin was always itchy and inflamed due to over scratching. Needless to say with all the infections I still didn’t feel well. However after several months they all stopped and the liver settled down.

So with the full hysterectomy it catapulted me straight to surgical menopause, meaning rather than going through the natural ageing process my body was forced into it. The ovaries are the main source of Estrogen production in the female body, so it was important for my body that I went onto HRT, Hormone  Replacement Therapy. This can take several months to get the dose.  The side effects of the wrong dose are very unpleasant…feeling sick, leg cramps, weight gain, headaches, hair loss, swelling and painful breasts and other parts of the body swelling. Eventually after several months we found the correct mg of Estradiol so everything settled and things were great for 6 years…having regular check ups, blood tests and blood pressure checks.

Turning up for what I thought was just a normal 6 month check up my doctor says he’s not happy that I’m still taking HRT so just like that no discussion stopped prescribing it, within weeks my symptoms had worsened, hot flashes day and night, palpitations, mood swing, irritability, anxiety, unexplained pain all over the body.…the list is endless. Sleep went to about 2 to 3 hours a night, leaving it impossible to function normally in the day. Endless trips back and forth to the doctor prescribed Fluoxetine, and antidepressant used to treat hot flashes. Did they work? Yeah for a while…until the body got used to them.
Talking to family members helped as they had started but most seemed to say it lasted 6 to12 months and then it  passed. Feeling happy for them but deflated for me.

The impact the Menopause has is immense, a hot flash is the worst thing…no warning,  for me it starts in the core with the hottest of feelings working its way through the layers till it reaches your skin…leaving you bright red and clammy….when its finished your freezing cold…literally your thermostat is knackered. 75% of woman going through the menopause will experience hot flashes. You will research how to help them, the best I can advise is dress in layers, limit alcohol, reduce spicy food, try to avoid stressful situations and try to avoid anywhere where you know it’s going to be hot! Oh…Practice deep breathing… This is super important!

That’s when I started looking for natural treatments such as sage oil, black cohosh, maca root, red clover, soybeans, flaxseed and many more, spending a fortune over the years trying to find the miracle cure. The one that seemed to help for a while was off the shelf at the supermarket called Menopace, this seemed to relieve some symptoms and help me function with some normality. Some of the natural remedies listed above are the more popular Menopause supplements, but there is a lack of evidence to support the use of them.

I also tried Acupuncture for several months attending once a week and where I did enjoy the full body massage that came after the treatment I’m not actually sure it relieved me of any menopause symptoms though. On treatment day however I was guaranteed a good night’s sleep to which I was grateful.

One of the biggest findings over the years is when I first signed up at JS-PT Health Studio and my eating habits changed, using only fresh produce and made from scratch meals not eating processed foods and cutting right back on carbs. Over the first couple of years getting fitter and healthier I noticed I didn’t feel as sluggish and tired. I know now that when I don’t eat well it will not help the menopause symptoms and I know I should have helped myself but sometimes that is hard. Your foods play such a big part in this.

We can strengthen our bones through exercise, walking and jogging are good weight bearing exercises. Eating food high in calcium, getting enough calcium throughout your life helps build and keeps strong bones. and this is vital through the menopause stages that we do it.

(*Osteoporosis is thinning bones, caused by lack of Estrogen. This is a bone disease which occurs when the body loses too much or makes too little bone, or both. With this bones become weak and may break or fracture easily)

How do we help Bone Health?

Calcium builds bones but Vitamin D helps absorb the calcium. Postmenopausal women need 1,200 mg and at least 400/600 IU  of vitamin D for better bone health.

Here are the three stages of Menopause.

1. Perimenopausal:

This can begin 8 to 10 years before menopause. It’s when the ovaries gradually produce less oestrogen. This lasts up until menopause…the point where the ovaries stop releasing eggs.

2. Menopausal:

When you stop having your monthly period, marking the end of your reproductive years. Typically late 40’s to early 50’s. The menopause is diagnosed when a woman has gone without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.

3. Postmenopausal:

This is the name given to the period of time after a woman has not bled for an entire year. During this stage of menopause symptoms such as hot flashes may ease but for some may continue for many years after depending on the individual. Post menopausal women are
at higher risk of diseases due to the lower level of estrogen such as Osteoporosis and heart disease.

So where am I at now? 12 years in…with the past few years of feeling like I’m losing the plot, I’m  back on HRT as of a month ago. After doing research about heart health,  osteoporosis and osteoarthritis I phoned my doctor and asked if I could go back on HRT. I was ready to go in for the fight, had my notes ready as it was a telephone consultation due to covid and to be honest I didn’t have to argue he just said yes. He said the benefits outweigh the risks and it’s come a long way. So it’s a slow process building it back up in the system and finding the right dose but I know it’ll be worth it.

I’ll be able to take control in every way I can think of, no more brain fog, headaches, low mood, anxiety, itchy skin!!
Everyone will go through this slightly differently to the next lady they speak with, and what works for you will not always be a one answer scenario or solution. However there IS things you can do to help.

One thing I do say is talk about it, for too many years it’s just been ignored but we’re living longer these days and the symptoms are real and cruel. You don’t need to go it alone. If you need some help and support on how to ease the effects or get advice on what you can do to help, then PLEASE drop us a message!!

Kate 🙂