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Menopause confessions: ‘Taboo’ symptoms and the role of men

Menopause confessions: ‘Taboo’ symptoms and the role of men

Wednesday 08 June 2022

Menopause confessions: ‘Taboo’ symptoms and the role of men

Wednesday 08 June 2022


It’s time to talk about menopause symptoms, male sympathisers, and… whisper it, or, actually, don’t… sex!

Menopause means three hormones being obliterated from our bodies: oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

So what does this mean for us? Well, not usually good things.

Let’s take a look at the symptoms, starting with the psychological ones...

Memory loss

As I’m writing this, I’m struggling to remember words! 

It’s something that can be a really scary experience. My dad had dementia, and described it as “like words missing off a page” – that’s very much how I feel, with words just vanishing! 

Names are ok, but just normal words! Gone!

For those who don’t know, I was in amateur dramatics for years. When I was asked to perform again, I thought there is no way. The fear would be so great to actually stand on stage and try and remember lines.

This was referenced on Davina McCall’s recent programme, ‘Sex, Mind and Menopause’ where she spoke with neuroscientists Dr Lisa Mosconi and Dr Roberta Brinton.

Brain fog

On that note… Cant remember what you were doing? Or where you were going? In a recent Channel 4 survey, of the 4,000 45-55-year-olds asked, 70% reported that they were suffering from brain fog. 

Mood swings

We can perhaps put this down as irritability – or just plain anger. The meno “rage” is something I discussed in detail in my previous column.

Sadness/depression 

Feelings can also go right the other way, with many women experiencing particularly low mood.

It worries me that women may start to feel out of control, that everything is getting too much, and they can’t manage anymore, ending up on antidepressants, which actually it could well be the menopause.

Try to keep aware of your feelings, perhaps by maintaining a ‘mood diary’ or using the Balance app. Monitoring them in this way can help you paint a true picture to your doctor.

Loss of confidence

Ever felt the sense of overwhelm? Too much on your mind? Can’t cope? Don’t panic, this is just part of the array of hormonal issues that we go through. 

WFHworkfromhomelaptopdog.jpg

Pictured: Some women find that menopause symptoms affect their ability to work.

In fact, some of these symptoms can be so debilitating that almost half of the Channel 4 survey respondents I mentioned above stated that menopause symptoms affected their ability to do their job, while nearly 85% said there was nobody in the workplace to turn to about their problems. One in 10 had quit their job as a result. 

So, lets continue our chat on our symptoms we are too embarrassed to mention!

Sex drive

Yes, you have got it! Oestrogen is the primary culprit! There’s not only dry eyes, reduced collagen, rough skin on elbows and heels to deal with… but our libido is affected.

Vaginal dryness can cause atrophy, where small cuts can appear.

This, if left untreated, can then cause urinary conditions like cystitis etc.

bed_bedroom_bed_sheets_sleep.jpg

Pictured: Menopause can also affect sex drive.

It really isn’t fair!

What should men do?

That’s right, let’s bring them into it.

Some may think that the menopause is nothing to do with them… but if they don’t understand our symptoms and we, like typical Brits, keep a stiff upper lip and just think ‘things will go away’, then how can we ask for their understanding or empathy?

The one thing to be avoided is asking how to ‘fix it’. They can’t!

That’s right – there is no solution! Well, not for them.  Empathy, hugs, support and patience… that’s more like it. It’s not too much to ask!

What can we do?  

No woman should think she has no choice or that she needs to just ‘ride it out’. This is the 21st century. As well as HRT…

We can start by taking a look at our lifestyle.  

When it comes to weight, it’s not about becoming a size 10 or lower, but keeping an eye on your BMI as overweightness may cause further issues down the line.

How much movement do you do in a day?

I’m not asking you to start running a marathon, but why not try setting a target for 10,000 steps a day (trust me, I know how hard that is)?  

Or you could try something different – like Zumba, walking groups or just simply dancing around your kitchen. Remember that phrase? “Dance like no one is watching”!

How is your sleep?

Poor sleep another criminal menopause symptom. Essential oils may be helpful or avoiding eating around two hours before bed. Try to establish a good bedtime routine.

Stress

Oh yes, good old Cortisol, our ‘angry’ hormone!

Movement should help with that. Something like yoga or walking. There’s also the Headspace/Calm apps. 

You need to find your ‘om’.

Alongside Rebecca Harling of St. Martin's surgery, Trudi will be holding the next Menopause Forum event on 14 June at 19:00 at the Ommaroo hotel. Jo Darwin is guest speaker and will be sharing her 20 years' experience as a doctor. Find out more about the event here.

Express is a supporter of the 'Championing Women's Health' campaign which you can read more about HERE.

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