I have recently been reading a lot in menopause support groups and Instagram groups, about women asking for advice about their symptoms. I like to gain an insight into what woman use to alleviate their symptoms so that I can help women that come on my Warrior Woman educational course. But I am shocked and saddened by a lot of advice that is given to these women, especially from medical professionals. Why aren’t woman encouraged to proactively find the “root cause” of the problem rather than given a generic solution that is just like sticking a plaster over it? The problem is not solved, the ‘plaster’ just hides it.
Everyday ‘problems’ which are normal and part of ageing could incorrectly be being blamed on menopause. Let me give you some examples:
- Weight gain. This doesn’t happen overnight. Our metabolism’s start to slow down as we age so if we are eating the same amount as we did in our 20’s, we will put weight on. It’s not necessarily because of menopause, it’s because of our AGE (so yes, it will happen to men too!). We cannot expect our bodies and minds to to react the same in our 40’s as it did in our 20’s. We have to start making lifestyle changes to adapt to ageing. This includes dietary and exercise changes amongst others.
- Bloating and belly fat. Time and time again, I see that a lot of symptoms are due to high levels of stress and increasing levels of cortisol and not necessarily due to menopause. Once the stress is dealt with and cortisol levels come down, some symptoms are alleviated.
- Irritable and headaches. I think as much as us ladies would love to blame being irritable on the big M, sometimes it’s not this that is causing the issue. It’s a lack of sleep. One of the first thing that I ask my clients is about their sleep patterns and a lot of the time THIS is the area they need to start focusing on.
Now if you were to read the support groups, these symptoms have been blamed on the menopause or perimenopause, all of which can, apparently, be fixed by hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or menopause hormone therapy (MHT) as it’s being re branded. However, the women then complain that the symptoms are still there. QUELLE SURPRISE! HRT can only alleviate issues which are caused by low levels of oestrogen (or progesterone). Now, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT anti MHT, and in some cases, it is necessary because the benefits outweigh the risks especially in cases of:
- early menopause (age 45 or less)
- medically induced menopause (due to treatments for cancer, for example)
But come on ladies, let’s give ourselves the respect and decency to at least find the root cause of our symptoms before we start medicating with anything.
I am going to share with you my top 3 gobsmacking stories from this weeks posts.
- “Morning, any runners on this page? I’m 54, never been a fast runner but just lately I’ve been really struggling with running and seem to run out of energy so quickly. I used to be able to run for miles without stopping now I even want to stop at 5k. Is it Menopause related and can anyone relate?” This lady had 60 comments on her post, most of which said it was menopause related blah blah. I asked about her sleep. She said “I don’t sleep very well as a rule as I suffer from night sweats so I’m always tired”. How can anyone expect to train and perform well if your sleep is compromised? The root cause of the lack of energy for running is the lack of sleep, so what needs to be dealt with is the night sweats.
- “I have been taking HRT tablets for the past 2 months and I have been getting a lot of acid re-flux. I have been to the GP about it as this can be one of the side effects. She prescribed Omeprazole for it but it’s not helping. Has anyone suffered with the same?” This lady had 26 comments on her post, including one who said love heart sweeties are good to prevent acid reflux!!! The Omeprazole tablet is a proton pump inhibitor which suppresses stomach acid. We need stomach acid to digest our food properly and absorb nutrients. Omeprazole can also cause osteoarthritis (which is prevalent in women over 50 due to lack of oestrogen). I suggested that she came off both, addressed her diet and timings of eating and maybe speak to her GP about gel or patches rather than taking a tablet.
- This one was an Instagram post from a well renowned menopause doctor which read “Many women tell me that they feel like an ‘old lady’ when they get up in the mornings as their joints are so sore and stiff.” She went on to prescribe HRT as relief for these symptoms (remember we are talking about stiff joints here) and said studies have shown that women who take HRT have a lower risk of developing osteoarthritis……… but surely MOVEMENT is the best therapy for stiff joints and for osteoarthritis? The synovial fluid in our joints becomes thicker and more gluey as we get older, so moving them is the best way to prevent this. Why not try this first before medicating? The International Osteoparosis Foundation website states that, “MHT is not a primary treatment for osteoporosis, but has been shown to increase BMD and lower fractures in postmenopausal women. However, MHT is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular and breast cancer in older postmenopausal women. MHT is only recommended for younger postmenopausal women for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, with no contra-indications to its use, and for a limited period of time”.
So ladies, what is it to be? Find the root cause or stick a plaster over it? My suggestion is to test, don’t guess. It’s your choice.