In the 1800s when women complained of depression, hot flushes and irregular periods, they were diagnosed with hysteria.
In many ways this still happens today, but in my experience it’s hidden under a different name such as Depressed, Anxious or Stressed
Early references to menopause have been difficult to find but we do know that Aristotle referred to age at menopause being 40 years. This is not correct and is taken out of context of course, but even today we are surrounded by an overwhelming flow of misinformation and misplaced advice by medical experts, on:
What happens to our bodies during peri menopause?
When we might expect this to start?
How long will it last? (up to 12 years in case you’re interested)
It’s documented that in Ancient Greece, women at this life stage were considered to be bewitched! (If you know a peri menopausal women then you’ll understand!)
My stock phrase to women is always “No! you’re not too young to be peri menopausal”
The age at which peri menopause begins, depends entirely on the woman’s medical and genetic history and/or current health situation.
This subject has been highlighted a lot more in the media, by some amazing clinical experts and I am so grateful to them for what they do, but in many areas this message just isn’t getting through!
Yesterday I was informed by a 47 year old women who was suffering terribly with her symptoms, that her doctor had told her she couldn’t possibly be peri menopausal as she was under 50. WRONG!
Another lady this week shared with me that she had been told by her doctor, to give up her career now that she was struggling to cope with her symptoms at the age of 52 as “this is the time to slow down and accept a quieter way of life”
Good lord! Really?! Is there a Tardis nearby? I think I may have fallen into a bygone age!
To HRT or not to HRT?
Far too many doctors are still under the impression that if a woman is continuing to have periods, she can’t be peri menopausal or that a woman under 50 does not need to consider HRT to both relieve her symptoms and offer her the long term health benefits such as added protection from Dementia, Osteoporosis and Cardiovascular disease.
**Breast cancer risks are very low with modern body identical HRT and are considerably higher in women who are overweight, don’t exercise or who drink alcohol, so it’s important that all women are given the right information to enable them to make a decision for themselves**
Some doctors refuse to prescribe HRT based on their own misguided or outdated opinions of it which is, in my opinion, verging on abuse of power.
The mindset amongst many, is that peri menopause and menopause (the time following a woman being period free for 12 consecutive months), is a natural state and should be accepted and embraced as a natural progression.
I really resent this attitude!
It doesn’t take into the account, the hugely damaging and debilitating effects of the 40+ symptoms including overwhelming fatigue, low mood (or even suicidal thoughts), dizziness, low or no sex drive, itchy skin, ringing in the ears and an unexpected anger; to name but a few.
My ethos? …Death is also a natural progression but I for one, am not going to be welcoming that process anytime soon; so, we all need to become better informed to ensure we enjoy the longer life we have available to us. (you’ll have to prise the HRT from my dead hands before I ever give it up!)
Until fairly recently we weren’t alive long enough to experience the symptoms so now that we are fortunate enough to be here, and have the ability to feel normal, why would anyone want to dismiss that opportunity?
The Non Facts?
I know I’m in serious danger of repeating myself but here goes…
My responses to the most common statements made to women:
“You’re too young to be peri menopausal”
You’re NOT too young to be peri menopausal. Depending on your personal situation, peri menopause can occur at any age
“You should just give up work now really”
You DON’T have to give up work when you hit peri menopause. You just need to get your hormones balanced
It’s normal to lose your sex drive. Don’t’ worry about it. It’s not important”
It’s common but not necessary to accept losing your sex drive during peri menopause and many relationships flounder and end purely due to the symptoms of peri menopause which can include a low sex drive. You either need your estrogen or your testosterone topped up (or both)
“You can’t have HRT; you’re still having periods”
You CAN start HRT whilst you’re still having periods and it offers you really good health benefits when started early. You just need to discuss dosages with your doctor
🥇 And my award for the most regularly used inaccurate advice: (drum roll…)
“You just need antidepressants if you’re feeling low!”
You DON’T need anti-depressants to remedy your peri menopausal mood issues. Once you get a handle on your hormones it’s very likely you’ll feel better but if not then that’s the time to reassess your needs.
Medics were becoming much more interested in menopause around the mid 19th century and in the 1930s it was becoming known as a ‘deficiency disease’
By the 1970s peri menopausal symptoms were known to be due to a lowered estrogen level and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), was born and considered to be the ultimate liberation of middle aged women.
It seems bizarre that we are still having to justify peri menopause in 2020.
There are some outstanding doctors, medics and complementary therapists out there who scoop up the women who have been let down and I thank them for all they do but we now need to make sure that it’s not just a media story for a short while when a celebrity raises the issue or when there’s a gap in the media schedule.
Become informed and stay well ladies
Jane Pangbourne is an HRT educator, accredited nutritionist & women’s health practitioner.
When you need more help with your hormones, your symptoms, or your HRT choice, you can book a consultation via the services page HERE