Trying my hardest to function with jetlag last week felt a bit like squidging through sludge. I was desperate to get free and feel lighter so I could get back to ‘normal’ service – which is often bouncing bunny (depending on caffeine intake) – rather than sluggish sloth. So, when it came to the weekend, you would think it was the perfect time for me to slump on the couch, rest up and restore my lacking energy. But I didn’t. I faced the windy rainy weather and headed off to the Positive Pause event in Putney – Embracing Midlife, Menopause & Beyond With The Experts – and wow, was I glad I did!
I was delighted to find out some really interesting facts from medical professionals that I hadn’t known and meeting some lovely, friendly midlife women looking for answers and advice like me, was just the remedy I needed to kick jetlag into touch and give me back my buzz. Let’s just say, on my return home, Stress Husband was treated to a long lecture in the pub and now, if he isn’t up to speed with the latest menopause findings, then he’s well and truly dumped!
All of the guest speakers at the event were so entertaining as well as fiercely knowledgable, that it made the time whizz by and there was a definite ‘all in this together’ vibe in the room, which was a really good way to get everybody talking and sharing our own experiences of menopause. And there was no subject left unspoken – poo, sex, dry fannies – don’t let me get started on Women’s Health Physio, Christient Bird’s ‘chicken with a prolapse’ puppet – I think I laughed so hard I snorted (luckily I have been doing my pelvic floor exercises, so didn’t pee myself…but urine incontinence was something else we spoke about too!)
Okay, so you can tell my excitement is bubbling because I want to share with you my favourite findings, so here they are:
Menopause is NOT equivalent to jumping on the Stenna Stairlift to old age!
This was a fabulous opening comment by Kathy Abernethy, Menopause Specialist and Chair of the British Menopause Society. I loved the analogy and loved even more the way the expert speakers encouraged us to think of the menopause as a new beginning – a time to be excited by what is ahead of us. We were encouraged to talk about our menopause more openly – share our symptoms and feelings and offer support to other midlife women who might be going about their day feeling crap, not realising these symptoms can be common – and something CAN be done to help. I was interested to find out that Kathy holds telephone consultations and clinics (link above) and I snapped up her book – Menopause, The One Stop Guide – a practical guide to understanding and dealing with the menopause.
By really delving in deep, sharing our thoughts, learning about symptoms and solutions and discovering new tips and research, this event made me realise something about myself. Although I do mention menopause on my blog occasionally, and I do speak about it in passing with friends, I don’t actually like to share too much as I am afraid of what others might think. But really, aren’t we all afraid of what others think about us? And that’s not a good thing really, is it? But that said, I do realise menopause talk can be boring or just not relevant for some (maybe those lucky few who may not experience symptoms, or think we should just put up and shut up like they did in our mother’s day, or blokey blokes who feel a bit embarrassed with any kind of women’s ‘downstairs’ talk.) And I get that. Anything that is over talked about can get boring even if it’s not a particularly boring subject (hello Brexit and Veganism) so I’ve come to this conclusion: I will talk about menopause and you can jog on (probably without leaking even a bit of wee) if it’s not your thing, but I will not moan about it (zip it Stressed Husband!) I will only offer my researched advice and personal opinions to help encourage menopausal mamas to look after themselves and lead a happy, healthy life. Glowology will be a menopause moaning free zone!
There is more help out there than you may know.
Now. This was eye opening for me. I knew enough to go to my doctor when I started getting symptoms that weren’t normal for me and that concerned me – unusual, off the scale anxiety, disturbed sleep, hot flushes, memory loss, feelings of despair and just plain weird mood swings. Luckily for me, my Doc was pretty helpful. She listened to my symptoms, took a blood test, saw that my oestrogen levels were very low, took into account my periods had almost stopped and then had no problem in prescribing me HRT. But still, even thought this seemed simple and helped my needs at the time, I wanted to find out more. I want to try and make sure that I’m in the best health – physically and mentally – that I can be at this time in my life. And I want you to be too!
Christien Bird, the humorous and brilliant Women’s Health Physio, I mentioned at the beginning of this post, spelt out, in the most entertaining way, all possible pelvic floor symptoms that can arise when you’re peri/menopausal (even though we know it’s a serious subject, her humour definitely broke the ice.) I loved her saying, “we are not just men with boobs and tubes!” So true! Basically, we need to get the help WE need to be working at full throttle, without pain, discomfort or leakages! Christien offers Menopause MOT’s at The White Hart Clinic in Barnes, which look so helpful.
Mashing those myths
Dr Karen Morton, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist wowed us all with her vigour and spirit – such a vibrant woman whose passion for her work and for providing women with the expert advice and help they deserve, shines brightly! Dr Morton’s Medical Helpline is a wonderful resource where, for a small fee, you can speak to or email a doctor – in the evenings, there is a special gynaecology team available. Dr Morton really helped explode some myths for me – for example:
- Did you know that staying on HRT through your 60’s/70’s and 80’s (obviously, health all being good with no medical problems) is okay to do? All of our experts spoke about women in their 70s who came to see them feeling absolutely wonderful on HRT and worried because their GPs had said they should stop the HRT. Well, medical guidelines no longer insist on this and if the woman is healthy and well, she can keep on it and stay feeling fabulous.
- The actual risk of breast cancer with taking combined HRT is very small. The risk is significantly less than the risk of breast cancer in women who are overweight, those who drink two to three units of alcohol each day and those who take no exercise. There is no evidence that taking HRT increases a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer.
- Menopause is the cause of low-libido. Nope! Dr Morton’s explanation for this was one of the highlights of the event for me, as she explained her ‘George Clooney’ test. When a patient tells her that menopause has made her go off sex, Dr Morton asks her, “If George Clooney turned up at your door, wearing a tuxedo, to wine and dine and you, do you think you might get those little flutters again?” Usually, her patient will smile and say…”well…I guess I would!” Dr Morton explains, “Of course, menopause can brings with it symptoms such as a sore, dry vagina – this can be helped with oestrogen cream or a natural lubricant. But if your lack of intimate interest is because you’ve been married to the same man for years – it’s normal!” After all, you’d get bored eating the same dinner every night. She suggests keeping communication with your partner going and lots of hugs and fun, saying that keeping intimate is very important to wellbeing as well as your marriage.
Apart from having a brilliant few hours at the Positive Pause event, that truly snapped me out of my jetlagged mindset, I was honestly surprised at how much great information there was on hand. The expert speakers were wonderful and informative and they mentioned lots of helpful resources for women experiencing menopause. The biggest takeaway for me is – nobody needs to suffer! It can be debilitating for some women, others barely notice it and fly through with no symptoms and it’s important to remember we are all so different and nobody’s menopause is going to be exactly the same, so it’s important to do your own research.
I left feeling really positive, with the view that menopause is an exciting new chapter that leads to a kind of newfound freedom. After all, women 0f 50 today could live up to another 30, 40 or even, 50 years – so let’s get that oestrogen back if we need it! I was pleased to find out that the government are now on board with research into menopause in the workplace because women over 50 are a big asset – which we always knew – dur! Finally, being a mother of daughters, I feel it is our duty to research, share and make things happen, so that when our girls get to our age, the menopause will be as normal a conversation as periods and sex education, and receiving help and advice will be much more accessible – with no stigma attached!
As well as the links above, these below are great resources to check out. If you have any helpful menopause info you’d like to share, please do let me know in the comments below!
- Positive Pause – be sure to check out Jo and Ann’s wonderful website with a massive amount of meno info! They’ve got an event on 11th May and more lined up, so get in there and get your tickets. It’s well worth it!
- The Menopause Cafe
- The YES YES Company
- Dr Morton’s Menopause App
- The British Menopause Society
- The NHS Squeezy App
GIVE AWAY NEWSFLASH – updated blog post!