Hormonal decline, also known as menopause transition or perimenopause (I like to say menopausing), is a mind and body experience starting around the age of 35, until you die. The hormonal shift as we move from regular periods to irregular, to no periods has a variety of names, but one thing is for sure it is a process. Menopause is not a finite moment after which things go ‘back to normal’.
Our own personal menopause day (final menstrual period) is a retrospective day when we have gone 12 consecutive months without a period, but the next day we are postmenopausal, and this is part of the continuum. If the type of menopause experienced is due to surgery or medication induced, the same applies when it comes to being postmenopause. Just because periods have stopped it doesn’t mean your body stops changing. Your body will continue to evolve each and every day until you die. Keeping up with those changes can be a challenge. With the right tools it’s much easier.
Menopause/ing is not something you get on with, get through or put up with. This rhetoric must stop. This is probably one of the biggest misunderstandings surrounding menopause transition. I believe this stems from how we are educated about menstruation. Neither menstruation nor menopause lend themselves well to modern day living. However, we continue to try and put a round peg in a square hole and have not adapted our approach to our personal biology over time. This needs to change. Understanding how and why your body does the things it does is the starting point.
Menopause itself is NOT taboo! I’ve had enough of self-fulfilling prophecies. We don’t talk about menopause for several reasons, some of which I’ll go into later. Maybe some societies have been lead to believe that it is a dreadful thing, but if we keep using the word we will believe it.
Aristotle said: “we are what we repeatedly do”.
We’re not going to stop ourselves, and people who menstruate on a global basis, being treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed bullshit), unless we step into the light. Using negative words before or after the word menopause is now off the agenda in the world of The Menopause Doula.
Before we continue I am going to park right here the NHS guidelines on how to manage menopause, which we will come back to in future articles.
Treatments for menopausal symptoms
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life.
- hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly – maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms
Your GP may refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms do not improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.