Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful & Psycho!
“I’m either going out for ice-cream or to commit a felony. I’ll decide in the car!”
Menopause is a hot and sticky topic however you look at it and, having not experienced it yet myself, I am really interested in hearing how other women have found it and how they cope with the symptoms.
All women go through menopause. We are one of the few species to do so. The menopause, or change of life as it is also known, happens when the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone stop working. It is the fluctuation of these hormones that causes the symptoms. A woman is menopausal when she has not had a period for 12 months.
An extensive meta-analysis study done in 2015 looked to review globally how women experience menopause. The aim was to evaluate both published and unpublished studies written in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish and to focus on women between the ages of 40 and 65 who have experienced natural menopause. Here are some of the more interesting findings:
– “Resilience is improved at the time of menopause.
– Hot flushes & night sweats are the strongest symptoms.
– Healthcare providers pay little attention to women’s perceptions during this time.
– The positive or negative ways in which each woman approaches the changes during menopause are influenced by their personal, family and socio-cultural background.”
In speaking to many, many women it has become clear to me that the symptoms are as individual and varied as the treatments. Some vociferously eschew any form of drug intervention and instead go the path of herbal remedies such as sage, whilst others swear by Hormone Replacement Therapy, which uses either oestrogen or a combination of oestrogen and progesterone treatment to help alleviate symptoms. However, there are a number of risk factors associated with HRT and so this is the hotter than hot potato in an already toasty subject.
Stats at a glance:
– Average age of menopause is between the ages of 45 – 58, peaking at 51
– Early onset (categorized between 40 and 45 years old): 5%
– Late onset (older than 55 years): 5%
– Premature onset (younger than 45 years): 1%
– 60% of women experience moderate symptoms
– 20% of women experience no symptoms
– 20% of women experience severe symptoms
– Hot flushes
– Mood swings
– Loss of libido
– Sleep disorders
– Memory Loss
Need I go on?!
This is why I find myself lurking somewhere between abject terror and utter denial as to what I will find when I arrive at the threshold of my menopause. A proper Punch ‘n Judy show no doubt.
“Don’t think of them as hot flushes, think of it as your inner child playing with matches!”
You may now be tucked up sleeping peacefully on the other side of your menopausal experience and have relegated it to a dim, slightly icky memory. Maybe you find yourself bang smack in the middle of its merry making mayhem wondering if your armpits will ever be the same again, or perhaps it is still ahead of you and you are stuck in traffic on the B23 sliproad anticipating its arrival. Whatever your current life stage, there are some physical considerations to be aware of as we ladies age.
Bone is constantly being broken down and re-made. Most bone growth happens during childhood with our peak bone mass occurring in our 20s and 30s when the skeleton is full size and at its strongest. As we age our bone density diminishes and this process speeds up significantly during menopause due to extreme hormonal changes. The drop in production of the female sex hormone, oestrogen, translates to an average 10% drop in bone density during the 5-year period following menopause. This in turn serves up the scary statistic that post-menopausal women have a 30% greater chance of getting osteoporosis. That’s a sobering figure.
Let’s cheer this conversation up by focusing on what we can do to change these numbers up. Stay tuned for part 2 on this subject where we will look at some straightforward ways to manage this particularly bumpy ride and keep mind from losing the plot with body…..
Please, please share your thoughts, tips, experiences. Let’s keep this conversation going.
Share, tweet, post, re-post in all the usual places. Thank you!
Photo credits: Alexas_Fotos, Peter Williams, Marion Kollmeier, Bykst, Good Housekeeping
 My VMC, Menopause (http://www.myvmc.com/diseases/menopause/#Statistics_on_Menopause)
 Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/menopause-symptoms)
 Australasian Menopausal Society, Osteoporosis (https://www.menopause.org.au/for-women/information-sheets/853-osteoporosis)
 The Physics Fact Book, Density of Bone, Kathy Donina, 2002 (http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2002/AnnaYarusskaya.shtml)