The Big M – Let’s talk about the Menopause with Natalie Elliot

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Menopause partner for brands such as M&S, Next and Sakrid, GenM recently found in its groundbreaking “Invisibility Report”, that three in four women still feel that talking about the menopause is a taboo subject. This lack of dialogue has led to the needs of women experiencing menopausal symptoms being completely overlooked.

Heather Jackson, co-founder of GenM explains, “This research highlights a clear call to action for better, more inspiring and easily accessible information, with 96 percent of perimenopausal and menopausal women supporting the need for a dedicated resource providing advice, information, experts, tried and tested products and solutions for those undergoing the menopause in one place.”

Most of us are familiar with the common symptoms, such as hot flushes and lowered libido.

However, you may be shocked to read that there are around 48 common symptoms of the perimenopause, which can take over a decade of a woman’s life, anytime between the ages of 35 to 60.

Could you be experiencing symptoms and not realise it is the menopause?

Heather Jackson said: “For me, I was at the stage in my life where my kids had left home, for all the right reasons, and I was ready to experience my bucket list. “But how I felt blew me away. I’d lost all of my confidence, I was crying a lot, I was fatigued, I’d got pains in places I didn’t ever think I’d have them, but I didn’t know what was wrong.”

16 most common symptoms of menopause

  • Hot flushes
  • Lower Libido (Sex drive)
  • Vaginal dryness (especially common in Asian women)
  • Changes in breast size
  • Brain fog
  • Skin itchiness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Changes in skin texture
  • Depression and a feeling of ‘loss of joy’
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Irritability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Paranoia
  • Nail changes
  • Muscle tension

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It is shocking that we are taught in school about puberty and reproduction, but there is complete neglect for the final most significant stage in a woman’s life. One that can have an enormous affect upon her, her family, and her career.

Dr Shahzadi Harper, GP, menopause expert and founder of The Harper Clinic in London is visited by thousands of women every year, who feel massive changes to their outlook on life as a result of entering this life stage.

“As women, we are generally copers. We get on with things. We don’t really think that there could be anything going on inside our bodies.

“We tend to put it down to the fact that we’re having to juggle the school run, or our children are leaving home, we’re busy at work.

“We’re juggling so many balls, we don’t really think there could be chemical changes going on inside our bodies. And yet, this is a biochemical process of significant change.”

For most women stumbling blindly into this stage is the most common experience, which can lead to years of unnecessary suffering as there are ways that you can take control of your menopause and make it a liberating, empowering and glorious stage of your life.

The common misconception that menopause happens to much older women has long passed. And understanding the process is a positive first step towards gaining back control. So, here are some key facts to get us started ladies!

The term menopause actually means, “the monthly (the period) stops”, which directly relates to the final menstrual period that a woman experiences in her lifetime.

The 10 to 12 years prior to this are known as the perimenopause, and it is during this time the levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone hormones within a woman’s body reduce significantly.

This can create problematic symptoms for women, which fluctuate as levels are imbalanced at this time.

When your body enters into the perimenopause has many determining factors, as Dr Shahzadi explains: “Menopause can vary among different ethnicities.

“In the UK, the average age of the menopause is 51. However, in India it is 46.5.

“So, there are different variants around the world, depending for example upon your ethnicity, whether you have had children or not, or indeed if you are a smoker.”

There is positive news, due to the collaborative work of doctors, brands and retailers, if you recognise some of these symptoms and think you may be perimenopausal, there is help and support out there. From HRT, to natural beauty products like those offered by Sakrid, managing your menopause is within your control.

Coming next week:

As part of our four-week exploration of the menopause, next week we will talk to leading menopause experts about the traditional and natural routes for controlling symptoms.

About the author: Natalie Elliott hosts The Natural Beauty Radio Show weekly on UK Health Radio, is a clean beauty expert and the founder of award-winning beauty brand Sakrid (@wearesakrid).

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