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Menopause: A closer look at the signs, symptoms & solutions

Trudi Roscouet discusses the common and uncommon signs and symptoms of menopause


As we move from summer and the seasons change, so does our body when we start the Menopause journey. Although the national average age is 51, you may begin as early as 40. How many of you have conversed with your mum or elder sibling to discover what age they were when they started the Menopause? The reason being is that there appears to be a genetic link. This issue is significant for our younger generation, who leave having children until their early 30s. Hormones start declining at 35, and if your mum hit Menopause at 42, that doesn't leave room for error.


Ladies often ask me about the validity of a blood test in defining Menopause. Unfortunately, this is not effective. Our hormones fluctuate for many years: some days good, some days low. Nothing is more frustrating than being told your bloods are "normal" when you may have myriad symptoms. The only true way of knowing where you are on this journey is to keep a symptom tracker.


So let's talk about symptoms; I mentioned 34 in the last edition. Actually, I would say there are over 50 if you break everything down. The main issue is that oestrogen has a massive role in our body; it is not only a sex hormone but has a significant effect on calcium absorption, cholesterol levels, memory function and our metabolism.


Saying that you might start to see a picture of symptoms. Many of us will think of irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia as the primary symptoms. But, there are other more general symptoms like muscle and joint pain (especially in fingers and toes), headaches or migraines, anxiety, heartburn and other digestive issues.


The psychological factors are probably more complex for a woman to understand or deal with as feeling like she can't cope or overwhelmed with life takes over. This is when difficulties arise for the GP, as in those 10 minutes, they only hear what is being said. These symptoms are often treated with anti-depressants, and many women feel disillusioned because they are uncertain why they need to take this medication.



Here are some psychological symptoms that are often associated with the Menopause:

• Brain fog (forgetting words, not thinking clearly)

• Confusion

• Forgetfulness

• Lack of motivation and confidence

• Sadness and depression

• Anxiety

Then we move through the body to physical symptoms. The list can seem endless, but let's look at some more "serious" issues:

• Heart palpitations and high cholesterol

• Digestive issues – heartburn, bloating, weight gain, constipation, excessive wind

• Sexual problems – loss of libido, vaginal atrophy (dryness), urinary tract infections, excessive urination



It seems quite a depressing time. But not all women will suffer from these symptoms, and some may come and go. I have created "THE BOOKMARK" – a self-help guide to assist the doctor in having an overview of all the symptoms you might be experiencing – rather than just focusing on the primary ones that may be prevalent at the time. This can be found on my website and will, hopefully, make its way in printed form into doctors and pharmacies.


So what now? It's time to start taking care of ourselves (well, we should have been doing that for years before!). Still, it's essential now that we consider our lifestyle and look to make some changes to help the array of symptoms that may appear. We are starting to see the holistic picture of symptoms – but now we need to look at ourselves.


I would first suggest going onto the NHS site and attaining your BMI (Body Mass Index). This will guide you as to your healthy weight. If you have a BMI over 30, I suggest you take action. This is not for "beauty" purposes but to help your body cope with the changes it's going through. FACT; You are nine times more likely to contract breast cancer with a BMI over 30 than taking HRT.

Start to move more – increase your step count by 2000 steps a day/week. Try to add more exercise to your daily routine. Rather than meet a friend for coffee, go for a walk. You will be amazed at how many steps you take! My luxury purchase has been a simple electric bike, but wow, has it made a difference to my daily movement level. I love being in the fresh air as I push along the cycle path to town, and best of all no parking fees! Try yoga or Pilates. Both help the body become more flexible and increase joint strength.


Are you getting a good night's sleep? Try to wind down with no blue light before bedtime (i.e. no mobiles/pads etc.) and try not to eat 2 hours before bedtime. Let the body have time to digest.


And finally, look after your state of mind. Get outside every day. It's a beautiful time of year; walk through the woods and look up at the trees. Ramble along the cliff paths. Try to reframe your thoughts. We have over 60,000 thoughts a day – if we gave air space to all of them, we would never get anything done. Focus on now.

There are many supplements and vitamins on the shelves – be aware that not all the sponsored adverts on social media help! Find a registered naturopath or function health coach who can look at your life and help you to balance the various areas. Keep looking forward and live in the moment. The only thing that matters is now.


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