Many say they feel the menopause is something they just have to ‘put up with’
The Daily Mail By Ben Spencer 19 May 2016
More than two in five women said symptoms were worse than expected
Over a third confessed they felt they just had to put up with menopause
Doctors warned women are missing out on advice on easing symptoms
Others said there is little awareness about treatment and support options
Half of women going through the menopause suffer in silence and avoid talking to a doctor because of the stigma surrounding the change, a report warns.
More than two in five said in a survey that symptoms of the menopause had been worse than they had expected.
Yet half had not consulted a doctor – more than a third of whom said they felt the menopause was something they just had to ‘put up with’.
Doctors last night warned that women are missing out on advice about lifestyle changes that could ease their symptoms. Others said that there is still very little awareness among women of the treatment options and support available because of long-lasting misconceptions.
The menopause usually strikes women in their late 40s or early 50s and is triggered as the body starts producing less of the hormone oestrogen.
The report, to be presented at the British Menopause Society’s annual conference today, reveals that the average woman suffers seven symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia and mood swings.
Around 1.9million women are thought to be going through the menopause at any one time in Britain. Some 80 per cent experience symptoms, which usually last around four years, although for one in ten they can last up to 12 years.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the NHS’s health guidance watchdog, last autumn issued new advice saying far more women should be offered hormone replacement therapy (HRT), despite concerns that it can increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Experts warned that HRT had become a subject that people are afraid of, with some GPs unwilling to discuss it and patients too worried to ask about it. And a survey of 1,200 women aged 45 to 65, commissioned by the British Menopause Society for the report, found that only 3 per cent were aware of the NICE guidelines, despite the huge publicity they received last year.
The poll, carried out by Ipsos MORI, also found that 42 per cent of women had found the symptoms of the menopause worse or much worse than expected.
‘GP DIDN’T HELP – SHE JUST TOLD ME TO GET ON WITH IT’
When Tanith Lee was told she had started the menopause early – aged just 38 – it was a huge shock. And the mother-of-two says the attitudes of doctors made matters even worse. She says she was given the life-changing news over her mobile phone while standing on the street. ‘The doctor was a young locum GP and she basically said that I should just go and buy some supplements and get on with my life,’ said Mrs Lee, now aged 44.
Tanith Lee was shocked when she started the menopause at just 38
Still a stigma
‘There is a massive stigma associated with menopause and there is a very negative message out there. Doctors just say, “don’t worry, love, you are just getting to that age”.
‘Women don’t even talk about their symptoms to their friends. The more that can be done to change that, the better.’
Mrs Lee, who lives with her husband and teenage children in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, added: ‘The psychological symptoms I experienced, including anxiety and loss of self-confidence, really took me by surprise.
‘I felt like I had passed my date, that I was “less than” a woman, and just felt really old. No matter what I tried, there was nothing I could do to pick myself back up.’
Mrs Lee, a fitness trainer, was eventually referred to a menopause clinic and began to improve. She now writes a blog called Mrs Menopause to break down the stigmas and said: ‘My take home message is don’t give up, there is hope out there.’
Some 79 per cent said they had suffered hot flushes, 70 per cent night sweats and 22 per cent insomnia. One in five had difficulty with memory or concentration and 18 per cent mentioned joint aches.
Dr Heather Currie, chairman of the British Menopause Society, said: ‘There is a common perception that the menopause is simply a few hot flushes lasting around two years, so the reality can come as quite a shock to many women.
‘Women often feel powerless, because they believe there are limited treatment options and support available, and these fears and misconceptions have persisted from generation to generation.
‘The publication of the NICE guideline represents a much-needed first step towards ensuring excellent standards of care for the treatment of women experiencing the menopause.
‘However, the survey demonstrates there is still extremely low awareness among women of the guideline and misconceptions around the menopause persist.’
Dr David Richmond, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, added: ‘For some women, menopausal symptoms can be extremely debilitating and dramatically impact upon their quality of life.
‘This survey paints a concerning picture, given that many women are suffering from menopausal symptoms in silence – this should never be the case.
Every woman’s menopause experience is different
‘Every woman’s experience of the menopause is different and we encourage women to talk openly to their healthcare professionals, employers, friends and families about the menopause.’
Edward Morris, a gynaecologist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said that although HRT should be a choice for many women, simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.
‘There’s this idea that women cannot do anything about the menopause – that it is coming their way and they should just get on with it,’ he said.
‘But there are lots of small things they can do about it. The main thing that women can do is change their lifestyle. HRT is part of the toolkit, but other things can make a big difference before HRT is even discussed. Exercising, for example, can mean you have fewer symptoms.’
He said that losing weight slashes the risk of hot flushes, which can also be triggered by alcohol.
Dr Marilyn Glenville has kindly passed on these great tips for Mrs Menopause’s readers.
The menopause is a natural stage in your life and there a number of top tips to help you through this transition easily and comfortably.
The menopause is a time of change and your female hormones are going to be fluctuating up and down as you go through this stage until you come out the other side and into the postmenopause, when your hormones will stabilise. The more gradually you go through the menopause, the less hormone fluctuations you experience and the easier the transition. What you eat at this stage can make the difference between having a difficult or easy menopause.
There are a number of key points which should be emphasised for menopausal women.
Stabilise blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of sugar and refined foods in the diet and eating little and often to reduce the toll on the adrenal glands
Reduce or eliminate caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee which contribute to the blood sugar problem but also act as diuretics depriving the body of vital nutrients and trace elements
Ensure a good intake of essential fatty acids from oily fish, nuts and seeds which help lubricate the joints, skin and vagina
Avoid soft fizzy drinks which contain high levels of phosphorus and increase the risk of osteoporosis by increasing urinary calcium excretion
Include a good intake of phytoestrogens in the diet from many sources and not just soya
Hot flushes and night sweats are among the most common and uncomfortable symptoms and their frequency and severity can vary from woman to woman. Certain foods and situations can trigger some hot flushes and these can include spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, alcohol and stressful situations.
Phytoestrogens can help alleviate menopausal symptoms so make sure you include plenty in your diet. Phytoestrogens are found in almost all fruit, vegetables and wholegrains but they are most beneficial when they are found in legumes, such as soya, lentil, peas and chickpeas.
You can use herbs to help with the menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh is the herb of choice for menopausal symptoms with the most research behind it. Dong quai has been found very helpful for menopausal problems such as regulation of hot flushes, and it is reported to help relieve mental and emotional upset. Agnus castus is helpful for general hormone balance through the perimenopause and menopause but especially for the mood swings. Sage can also reduce sweating associated with menopausal hot flushes. (see NHP’s Black Cohosh Nutrition Support www.naturalhealthpractice.com)
I always recommend that women take a good-quality multivitamin and mineral during the menopause. This supplement should contain vital nutrients for bone health, good levels of antioxidants to help slow down the ageing process, and other important vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins and chromium, to help keep blood-sugar levels balanced.
Are you getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids?
What many women think of as symptoms connected to the menopause can actually be related to not having enough essential Omega 3 fatty acids. The deficiency symptoms can include:
Dry, lifeless hair
soft, easily frayed nails
cracked skin on heels or fingertips
depression and mood swings
poor wound healing
difficulty losing weight
lack of motivation
Omega 3s vs Omega 6s
It is estimated that we are getting twenty five times more Omega 6 fats from our diet than Omega 3. Many of the women I see in the clinic have been taking evening primrose oil supplements – an Omega 6 fatty acid – for years and have not been eating enough Omega 3 oils, or taking them in supplement form, to counterbalance this. (You can now have a simple finger prick blood test to tell you if you have the correct levels of Omega 3 to Omega 6 in your body – see www.naturalhealthpractice.com)
The risk of osteoporosis increases with age especially after the menopause when oestrogen levels decline. Other risk factors are a family history of the disease, having a small frame and digestive problems. Some of these risks, like your family history, can’t be changed but there are plenty of things you can do to help prevent it.
The most important nutrients for your bones are without doubt calcium, magnesium and vitamin D so be sure that you eat foods rich in these nutrients. Trace minerals such as boron and manganese also play a role in calcium metabolism.
Calcium is the key component of bone, and essential for bone health throughout our lives. Calcium is found in dairy products but don’t forget that you can also get plenty of calcium from dark green leafy vegetables, like broccoli, fish with bones, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and teeth because it helps maintain good levels of calcium, which it does by increasing calcium absorption from food, as well as controlling how much calcium you lose in your urine. Much of your vitamin D is synthesised in your skin on exposure to sunlight but this manufacture will be blocked by sunscreen.
Magnesium is also essential for calcium to be absorbed properly in our bodies and bone density to be maintained. About 60% of the magnesium in our body can be found in your bones.
Finally, as well as eating a healthy, bone building diet a regular exercise programme is crucial for warding off osteoporosis. This is because the more physically active we are, the more bone we will build. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes exercise five times a week.
Menopause Retreat at Champneys – 21-23 August 2015
Natural Solutions to the Menopause and Prevention of Osteoporosis
Are you worried about the menopause, concerned about the side effects of HRT and want to learn how to prevent and treat osteoporosis naturally? If so you will want to spend this retreat with the UK’s leading nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD.
Come to this retreat to learn how to boost your energy, improve health, eliminate night sweats and hot flushes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, headaches, aching joints and increase your sex drive. Is soya good or bad? Find out the truth about ‘natural’ bioidentical hormones like progesterone.
For more information or to make a booking, please visit www.champneys.com or call 0843 316 2222
Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health. She is the Former President of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine and the author of a number of internationally best selling books including her new book ‘Natural Solutions to the Menopause’ and also ‘Fat around the Middle’, ‘Osteoporosis – how to prevent, treat and reverse it’ and ‘The Natural Health Bible for Women’ or go to www.marilynglenville.com. Dr Glenville runs a number of clinics in Harley Street, London, Kent and Ireland. If you are interested in a consultation, you can contact Dr Glenville’s clinic on 01892 515905 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was my Mum’s and my birthdays this week. On Tuesday we decided to go to Holly Redmans new Paleo restaurant in Notting Hill called Pure Taste.
We have both experienced her amazing cooking at her pop-up restaurant at Jeremy’s in Borde Hill, Sussex.
I had also hosted a cooking demonstration by Holly for my clients. Her food is like a party for my taste buds!
Paleo style eating has been around for a few thousand years! The idea is that we go back to eating real food and a diet much like we ate in Palaeolithic times. I dont know much about the science and research behind it but some of it makes sense to me. Basically its eating meat/fish and vegetable, no dairy or grains. I can hear you gasp……WTF can I eat?? This is where Holly’s amazing food comes in. Who says healthy has to be boring? Now I know most busy Mum’s won’t be rustling up this kind of menu to the hungry hoards but I defo had some take home ideas. I also have Holly’s recipe book which helps.
Every time we ate something, we waited for the flavours to work their way over our awaiting taste buds. Lot’s of OMG, wow and Mmmmmmm’s were heard.
Here is what we ate……yes I know I won’t ever be a food photographer!
We started with…..
Garlic & Rosemary Foccacia. & Rustic Sourdough. – It was served warm with a coconut and avocado ‘butter’ which was delicious
Green soup & chicken hearts.
Bavette, Pont Neouf and salad (Steak and chips!)
Salmon fish cake, celery, radish, avocado & tapenade.
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A message from Tanith
Founder, Mrs Menopause
Your forties are a time of change, I’m sure I read once that’s when the fun starts. The body changes and you cannot stop it. I want to help you accept it and embrace it…..cellulite, flabby bits and all!