In the second day of our exclusive series, Kate Muir answers the most frequently asked questions about life before, during and after menopause.
Welcome to our exclusive second day menopause tutorial. Yesterday we talked about the menopause survival toolkit – everything you need to feel your best during perimenopause, menopause and more.
As producer of Davina McCall’s Channel No. 4 In the documentary Sex, Myths, and Menopause, I passionately opened up the conversation about menopause.
Today, I’m here to answer some of the most common questions surrounding this – including questions you might not be asking your GP.
Will my menopause symptoms ever go away?
Some symptoms of menopause, such as insomnia and anxiety, begin in perimenopause. And studies show that some women still have hot flashes into their 80s. So yes, symptoms can last for decades.
However, this is due to the hormone deficiency caused by menopause, which causes the symptoms, which do not go away unless you
When you do, HRT replenishes your depleted hormones and symptoms usually go away.
That is not to say that symptoms do not improve promptly without HRT. For example, memory loss may improve slightly after you experience the worst of menopause in your 50s.
But if you want to protect the brain from the damage it can suffer from hormone deficiencies, you’re better off with hormone replacement in the long run.
Are there any benefits to menopause?
In short: yes. If you start HRT and you’re one in the 90% who can tolerate it, you’ll never have those erratic ups and downs in your menstrual cycle again. Best of all, you shouldn’t suffer from many of the common menopause symptoms.
Indeed, once you’re on the other side – you’re over 50, you’re on HRT – you’re really emotionally and physically stable, and that’s amazing.
Does HRT increase my risk of breast cancer?
A study 20 years ago from the Women’s Health Initiative showed that there was a small increase in breast cancer risk for the older combination pill, which is made of synthetic estrogen and progestin.
What we have now is a completely different type of HRT, and if you take estrogen and micronised progesterone transdermal, or equivalent, the studies (more than 5 years so far) show no additional risks breast cancer muscle.
Will menopause ruin my sex life?
Experts say 80% of women may experience vaginal and/or vulvar dryness at some point during menopause. If you take HRT, this can be helpful. But sometimes you need extra vaginal estrogen, which helps dry up and prevent urinary tract infections. It also ensures that you feel comfortable during sex.
There is no cancer risk due to vaginal estrogen, a small amount of the hormone is used – equivalent to about two HRT pills taken for a whole year – and it is taken directly. You can use cream, gel or pessary.
What can I do if my sex drive disappears?
Start with vaginal estrogen to make sure you’re comfortable. Additionally, according to the 2015 NICE guidelines, you can claim testosterone on NHS if your sex drive is low. Access is not always easy, and you are often referred to a menopause specialist (something we are trying to change). But testosterone helps increase sex drive, energy, and focus.
And no, it won’t make you more hairy. You are simply replacing the amount of testosterone that was in your body 10 years ago.
It is seen as a male hormone, but in fact, we also produce testosterone and don’t get it back after menopause.
Does menopause cause you mood swings?
So many women talk about “rage,” but this mostly happens during perimenopause, when the menstrual cycle is coming to an end and estrogen levels plummet.
When estrogen and progesterone fluctuate, your stress, anxiety, and potential for hormonal depression increase.
Your hormones are volatile and until you find a way to stabilize them or overcome otherwise you will find that it has an amazing impact on your mental health, memory, concentration and sleep yours, all of which can affect you. mood.
Is HRT safe – should I or should I take it natural?
HRT is really safe. And I would argue that taking something like an herbal remedy is really not a natural approach.
The most natural thing is to supplement with hormones because you are simply replacing what your body is used to making.
If you want to protect your brain and bones and prevent osteoporosis and dementia, taking HRT will protect you from these and other long-term illnesses caused by hormone deficiencies. However, if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may not be able to take HRT afterwards because of its estrogen content. If that’s the case, you’ll have to go the natural route and do the best you can with exercise and nutrition, CBT therapy, or meditation.
Can I take HRT for many years after the onset of menopause, and can I take it for the rest of my life?
There has been some new research done on gently starting HRT in later life and starting HRT through the skin much safer than starting old-fashioned HRT. The benefit of taking it in later life is that it rebalances hormone deficiencies brought on by menopause, preventing insomnia, anxiety, brain fog, and health conditions like osteoporosis. It is recommended to start with one injection of the estrogen gel (most people have twice daily). The doctors here started it slowly and it seems to be very successful because the new HRT is much easier to tolerate.
Previously, you were only expected to take the HRT for 5 years. But now we are looking at HRT not only in terms of reducing symptoms but also in terms of promoting your health.
There is a group of menopause experts who say you can keep using HRT for years after you start taking it, although that is not yet NHS advice. However, I’ve been pursuing it for five years and I certainly won’t give it up. To me, the long-term benefits outweigh any risks.
Will I gain weight?
Women tend to develop a band of fat around the waist during menopause. This is because when estrogen levels plummet, the body begins to make more substitutes for estrogen called estrone. This is created by fat cells that appear around your waist.
Estrone is not as good as the estrogen our bodies used to make. But the body continues to make more to make up for the loss of estrogen, and so that fat ring stays around your body.
It is helpful to take HRT to replace lost estrogen, as well as following a healthy daily diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercising every day.
Everything You Need to Know About Menopause (But Too Afraid to Ask) by Kate Muir (£16.99, Simon & Schuster) is out now. Follow Kate on Twitter and Instagram at @menoscandal
https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/everything-you-need-know-life-26349763 Everything you need to know about life before, during and after menopause