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What is the Menopause?

at is the Menopause?

Menopause is a natural biological process that a woman’s body undergoes, the permanent end of menstruation. Defined within medical textbooks as occurring 12 months after the last period, it can also mark the end of fertility (although this is not always the case, as periods can come back for some women, even after a gap of 18 months).

Prior to the menopause, reducing oestrogen levels in the body can result in various such as hot flushes and night sweats, moodiness, anxiety and brain “fog”. GPs refer to this as the “peri-menopause”, a stage that may last a few months or several years. The cycle between your periods may start becoming more irregular and erratic. Some people find that their periods become more infrequent, others may find that they become more frequent; flow may be lighter or get much heavier. Either way, it can be quite annoying because you can’t predict when you’re going to be due.

The most important thing, I believe, is to remember that the menopause is a natural stage in every woman’s life and not a medical illness. The menopause does not take away your sexuality and femininity and many women feel liberated from the possibility of getting pregnant and the ability to wear white trousers again.

You should not hesitate to get help if you're struggling to cope with any symptoms or your emotions. Many therapies are available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.

Your Options:

  1. Life Style Changes
  2. Hormonal Drugs
  3. Other Medicines
  4. Alternative Therapies
  5. Herbals
  6. Phytoestrogens

My Story:

After a premature hysterectomy following dangerously large ovarian cysts, the results of years of endometriosis, I was put on HRT patches. At the time, this was before all the health scares and I had welcomed using them after my 6-week post-op check-up. I remember sitting down on the sofa, hoping that they would kick in within half an hour or so, like taking paracetamol... I waited many days and nothing happened. I was SO disappointed; it wasn't until afterwards that my gynae explained that HRT could take weeks to work for some women. For me unfortunately, it just didn't do anything, even after 2 months, during which I had some pretty nasty side effects with perpetual nausea and weight gain of nearly 1 stone, I was still falling asleep in the armchair, forgetting words halfway through sentences and bad sleep night after night had left me feeling completely drained.

I just had to find something else. Over the next few months, I worked my way through every single pill and potion I could find on the high street, sometime 2 things at the same time, all to no avail; it was all really depressing. You all know what I mean, when you're sweating all day, fanning yourself with anything handy, secure in the knowledge that you're going to spend most of the night in the usual "leg in, leg out, duvet off, freeze, duvet back on", if someone told you that you could stop all that by running around the block naked, a lot of us would be routinely issued with ASBOs...

A chance encounter at a pharmaceutical conference proved life-changing: a PhD student had been doing research to identify what foods helped Asian women look and feel good for much longer than their western counterparts. The professor overseeing the project had theorised that it may help women in their menopause and was looking for volunteers - I grabbed my chance. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. My gynae was totally supportive and read up on all the information that was provided by the University; he told me to go for it and I did! A small package soon arrived on my doorstep, containing a new food supplement derived from mung beans.

Within a few days of trying it, I began to feel the difference. “By day four, I knew it was working! The dreaded flushes were reducing: I had been having seven to eight an hour and that went down to two or three. Then I began to feel more energetic. By the end of the month, I was getting back to my normal extrovert self and sleeping through the night was sheer bliss! The added bonuses were that my hair loss stopped, my nails were growing long again and my skin started to go back to normal. Tiredness aside, waking up in the morning was no longer painful: prior to that, whenever I got out of bed, my knees would ache, and it would be hard to get walking normally if that makes sense. Once I had got going, things would be OK again, but I felt like one of those low energy light bulbs that don't get bright until they've been on for a while.                                                       

Now, over 15 years on since I took my first capsule, I'm still able to function in many ways that I know would not be possible if I didn't keep taking them. I'm running this business, working for local charities and business organisations, looking after my 2 children and our pets and enjoying a social life whenever I can find time to fit it in!

However, I recognise that I have been luckier than most and perhaps the most important thing I can offer you is the ability to ring and speak to someone who knows exactly what you are going through. I've campaigned and supported many local and national menopause awareness programmes, with support from leading TV GP Dr Chris Steele MBE, Granada TV, BBC radio and many newspapers. I’ve been a guest speaker at Primary Care conferences for GPs and nurses to outline an alternative solution for patients who cannot or do not wish to take HRT and support several public departments with their menopause awareness.

Many of you have come here because you have been recommended by a friend or family member or a growing number of health professionals both here and abroad - as with most things, people are quite comfortable to try something that someone they trust has suggested. However, some of you may have just stumbled upon this website as these things happen on the Internet. I am always happy to speak to any woman who, for whatever reason, has not been able to or does not want to take HRT or other medications for the menopause.

Whilst the menopause can happen anytime from late twenties to early sixties (most commonly, from late 40s to mid-fifties), we would always suggest that you check matters with your GP or gynae if you suspect this is happening to you. I have known customers and personal friends who have gone many months without a period only to then start having regular periods, so that this is certainly not unusual, but from time to time, it is possible that the lack of period may be due to a physical reason which may be as simple as being pregnant!

Whilst we are all regularly informed about science and human health via newspapers, TV, radio and the many articles (of varying scientific validity) on the Internet, most of us are not medically qualified and our GP can do the necessary checks to ensure all is well. If you aren't comfortable about "worrying your GP about nothing", then it's always possible to have a quick word with your local pharmacist or surgery nurse. I do think that at times, as women and mothers, we have often put ourselves at the bottom of the priority list; this is often made worse during the menopause when self-confidence itself can decrease.