Menopause. Who can help?
Updated: Jun 8
The realisation that I might be menopausal didn't come as a shock to me. I've been waiting for it to happen for a number of years now. The thing that held me back was my lack of knowledge regarding all the symptoms and an outdated opinion regarding HRT.
I am sure there are many others out there like me.
A search on any media platform will throw up many results. I recommend checking out the following:
Newson Health have so much information on their website and quickly became my favourite.
The British Menopause Society may be your first result in the search bar and is aimed at professionals and requires a paid membership to access some information. The Women's Health Concern mentioned above is the society's patient arm as such.
For TikTok you can type 'menopause' in the search bar and find many, but I've narrowed it down to these few because they are well respected and some of the leading professionals in their field and help many individuals with accurate up-to-date information.
When it comes to Facebook there are loads of groups you can join. There is one specific to Northern Ireland called 'Menopause Support Group Northern Ireland'. There are lots of individuals in the group willing to help and offer advice; be it what to expect from your GP, details of who to contact if you wish to go private to access support and also the opportunity to speak to others who are going through the same thing. There is also a Menopause UK support group. Both are private groups so anything you put into them will not be seen by your friends on facebook, but there is no guarantee that there isn't someone else in the group that you don't know. Like all groups on social media it's up to you if you find them helpful and informative and whether you engage or just sit on the sidelines and read other peoples posts.
There is also a free app for your phone called Balance that can help you log symptoms as well as giving loads of menopause related information. There are hints and tips around all kinds of things, as well as challenges to encourage you to cut out sugar, get more sleep etc.
You could also speak to your GP. There is a number of tests that they may want to do to rule other things out. They may recommend some form of HRT. The idea of this is to replace the hormones you are losing. This really is down to individual choice and you CAN ask for HRT if your GP does not mention it. Some women use it and some don't. It is worth reading up on HRT on the sites listed above. At the very least it means that, if it is something your GP suggests, you already have some knowledge.
Please note that for any individual over 45 who is currently going through peri-menopause or menopause, some blood tests are not required. The GP is advised to treat the symptoms.
I would also recommend that if you plan to or are already going down the medical route, you read the NICE guidelines. These are evidence based recommendations for treatment for NHS professionals and sets out procedures for them to follow. www.nice.org.uk/guideance/ng23
Something I wish to add that I feel is important with regards to these guidelines is around the recommendation that you can use "CBT to assist with low mood or anxiety as a result of the menopause".
While CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can be helpful, it isn't a one size fits all for numerous reasons. If you try it and feel that it isn't for you, find out what else your GP recommends, talk to other women and see what they have tried. Integrative counselling might be an option and they may suggest that. Your GP may prescribe medication to help with the low moods although the guidelines do not recommend this unless there is a diagnosis of depression.
There is lots of information out there to suggest that improving your diet and moving more will help with your symptoms. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to suddenly hit the gym and start an extensive fitness routine and start restricting food groups. It's all down to what you feel capable of doing (and also what you can afford). It may mean making small changes to how you eat, drink and move. For me personally it has meant drinking more water, eating regular healthier meals (this has reduced the length of time I am Hangry as this had gotten worse), reducing my sugar intake and getting my step count up. Do whatever feels realistic to you.
(I have to be honest on the above..... I don't manage it every day. Some days I don't have the energy, time or inclination and that's ok).
Some people go down the natural route and try herbal remedies, others seek out alternative therapies. I take multi-vitamins due to a slightly low vitamin B12 level and the fact that as an autistic woman my diet is limited due to sensory issues. I'm aware that I may not be getting all the required nutrients through what I eat. This is what I feel is right for me, you might decide to do something else. .
With regards to life coaching to help you manage life and the menopause, there are life coaches out there who will work with menopause. Obviously you are reading this on my website so I will recommend myself but you don't have to choose me.
What may set me apart from the others (or it may not) is that my initial qualification is from the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB) and to my knowledge there are only a handful in Northern Ireland with the same qualification.
Ring round life coaches, ask them about their qualifications, how long they have been practising and the type of clients they work with. Ask what the average number of sessions a client has (it will give you an idea of what the cost will be). Some offer packages, some don't. Some will be more expensive than others but this does not mean that the more expensive, the better the life coach. It may just mean they will charge you more. Let's be honest, life coaches have bills to pay the same as everyone else so are always on the lookout for potential clients.
They may offer you an initial phone call or a discovery session for free. Take it if you can as it will give you an idea as to how you feel about them as a person and if you want to work with them or not. If you need time to think about it, tell them you need that time and get back to them if you feel they are the right person for you.
I wish I could tell you that there is a quick instant fix for peri-menopause, menopause and everything that comes along with it but there isn't. Some individuals are fortunate and whatever methods they choose have the right effects, for others it is trial and error and lots of communication with you chosen professionals until you come up with a solution.
What I do know is that there are a number of options out there. It is up to you to find the right fit for you.
All I would ask is that if you are suffering, please don't suffer in silence. Help is out there.