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Menopause, Understand Your Battle So You Can Stay On Top At Work.

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

I can emphasise with any woman going through the menopause, even more so with those at work. I went into menopause early when a cyst had wrapped itself around my fallopian tube and was also attached to my ovary. The tube and the ovary had to be removed sending me into early menopause. So, yes, I do understand what you are going through.

Knowing how frightening the experience can be, how you don’t understand what is going on with your body and your emotions. Everyone knows about hot flushes and many people are aware of mood swings, but those are just part of a much bigger picture.

How this can impact on women, not only physically and mentally, but on the wider picture at work and life in general. When you are armed with knowledge of what's going on you can understand the battle you have and how are you can stay on top of things.

What is Peri-menopause

Peri-menopause means “around menopause” but the term is used to define the time of change as a woman approaches menopause. It’s a time that can be just as debilitating as menopause and the symptoms just as scary.

A woman is considered to be in menopause when she has not had a menstrual period for twelve months. Peri-menopause is the time leading up to that cessation and the changes do not happen all at the same time or in the same order for each person. There is no menopause or peri-menopause checklist. In fact, let’s be honest here, it’s only the last couple of years that one of the most natural health occurrences that will effect approximately 50% of the world population has been brought out into the open at all. Thankfully, discourse is starting about menopause and helping women to get through it.

One way that will help more women through the phase is a greater understanding of what to expect, the knowledge that those strange and worrying symptoms are normal, that it will get better and you do have a future to look forward to.

What Causes Menopause

Peri-menopause begins when your body produces less oestrogen and progesterone and eventually the ovaries stop making those hormones altogether. For most women menopause happens in their fifties. Some experience it earlier, some considerably earlier and some like me, have an induced menopause. Peri-menopause can begin up to ten years before menopause or last a few months.

What are the Symptoms?

The effects of this transition period of our bodies as we approach menopause include:

  1. Allergies

  2. Anxiety

  3. Bladder control

  4. Bloating

  5. Burning tongue

  6. Brain fog or memory lapse

  7. Brittle nails

  8. Changes in body odour

  9. Changes or Loss of libido

  10. Depression

  11. Digestive issues

  12. Dizziness

  13. Electric shocks (firing of neurons)

  14. Fatigue

  15. Headaches

  16. Hot flushes

  17. Insomnia

  18. Irritability

  19. Irregular heartbeats

  20. Irregular periods

  21. Joint pain and stiffness

  22. Loss of hair

  23. Mood swings

  24. Muscles tighten

  25. Night sweats

  26. Osteoporosis

  27. Panic disorder

  28. Pins and needles or the feeling of crawling insects under the skin

  29. Poor concentration

  30. Soreness breasts

  31. Tingling sensations in the extremities

  32. Vaginal Dryness

  33. Weight gain

You are NOT going Mad

Due to the lack of knowledge about menopause many women feel as though they are going mad, they are ashamed to talk to anyone about what they are going through. Often when women do go to the general practitioner to seek help they are given anti-depressants with many women being told they are too young for it to be menopause. The lack of knowledge and information is staggering. However, peri-menopause symptoms are easily mistaken for depression because the medical staff don’t know any better. Although the NHS guidelines are that anti-depressants should not be given to treat menopause doctors will only treat what they believe is in front of them, so they are not to blame.

The menopause is only a tiny part of the curriculum that doctors study to qualify and it’s only those who opt for additional women’s health training who have a better understanding of the effects.

Younger women especially who experience the symptoms of peri-menopause visit health practitioners who discount early onset menopause because they believe that the woman in front of them is too young. A frightening time is compounded by the prescription of anti-depressant drugs that frequently don’t help.

Of course, I don’t want to belittle the need for anti-depressants for those who are suffering depression. It is worth mentioning though that in a 2020 documentary on Channel 4 presented by Davina McCall, women spoke about being prescribed anti-depressants for menopause and it was not helpful. The documentary is well worth watching if you haven’t seen it already:

Mental Health

The impact on a woman’s mental health is huge. Worrying about what the brain fog means and fear about things like dementia or other mental health concerns only serve to compound the emotions and negativity that many women go through.

It’s Good to Talk About “It”

Frequently women will say how they suffered in silence over fears for their mental health. Many say they were afraid or embarrassed to talk to anyone about what was going on with the mind and body. Women felt they had nowhere to turn. Those who did seek medical advice were frequently disappointed.

Women end up in a destructive downward spiral of despair and anxiety, feel exhausted because they cannot sleep and struggle to cope with a body that is too hot, red and sweaty and then cold and clammy. Then they have mood swings and experience aggressive thoughts and unexplained fears.

Going forward the shift in the last few years for more knowledge about menopause will hopefully see more women coming forward for effective treatment sooner and less suffering as their mothers, grandmothers and sisters have.

What Age Does it Happen?

There are no hard and fast rules, as mentioned there is no check list and that includes when it will start or how severe someone’s symptoms will be. There are a variety of factors why some women will start menopause sooner than others, as with my story.

Just because the accepted norm is for peri-menopause symptoms to begin in a woman’s fifties does not mean that it’s right. We know that peri-menopause can start in the thirties or wait until the fifties. Many women will be aware of one or some of the symptoms listed above by their mid-forties, but that is not a definite timeframe. Even without surgical intervention menopause can kick in at any age after puberty.

I​s HRT Safe?

HRT is perfectly safe to use for most women, risks of getting cancer from HRT are minimal as you can see from the documentary “Sex Myths and Menopause” however in some cases where women have already had cancer often due to overproduction of oestrogen. In this case HRT is not possible and this is where holistic approach can help.

What To Do If You Think You Started Menopause?

First off write down all your symptoms, what they are and how often you are having them and when they started. Research where your nearest menopausal clinic is. Then book an appointment with your GP. Do you not see your GP without going fully armed with facts and your symptoms. As training for the GPs is very minimal for menopause, and women often find too often not they are being confused with having anxiety or depression. Give medication which just does not help. Ask your GP to either put you on HRT or refer you to a menopausal clinic. Always go armed with the knowledge of what is happening is happening with your body and how often.

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Solution Focussed Helps

There is good news!

The more you know about menopause the more prepared you can be. In fact, it’s not just “strong” women who go through menopause and say they came out the other side stronger. Any woman with the right tools at her disposal can come out the other side stronger. You too can embrace the life change and see it like the changing of the seasons something that will pass.

While you're waiting to come out on the other side some practical Solutions that you can arm yourself with and be the strong independent woman you have always been at work.

Helpful tips

1: Talk about it with your line manager, supervisor or boss there is no shame it is a right, of passage as a women. This allows your company to put in place any wellness policy they have on the menopause. This also covers you should you ever need to take legal action for unfair dismissal, due to menopausal symptoms.

2: Have a fan at work this will help call you down we need to.

3: Looking to change in diet there are many foods out there that will enhance your moods. Look into hiring a dietician.

4: Exercise, if you're not doing so already introduced yourself to Pilates or Yoga it's gentle but affective. You can now do this face-to-face or in the comfort of your own home, ever best for you.

5: Invest in something like a Chillmax​ pillow, this will keep you call at night so you can have a better sleep.

6: Hypnotherapy sessions will help by giving you the tools you need. You can improve your positivity, learn stress management techniques, and banish anxiety. Remember antidepressants do not help with anxiety or depression for menopause.

I know first-hand how hypnotherapy can give you back the control, reduce hot flushes, and beat insomnia. Help women in business and work of all ages, stay focused, improve concentration, help control the built-in thermostat and overcome the debilitating effects of menopause and other women’s health issues, so they can live a happier healthier life and maintain a good relationship with family friends and work colleagues.

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