Lash-Ed Issue 4 October 2019 - Page 47

must have stopped having periods before they can consider treatment.

If you are planning to visit your doctor about menopause, ask if there is one who specialises in this area.

Whilst hot flushes and night sweats are the symptoms most people think of when menopause is mentioned, it’s actually the psychological symptoms that are most likely to appear first; anxiety, low mood, irritability, brain fog etc.

Oestrogen supports many bodily functions and one of them is cognition, serotonin, our happy hormone is supported by oestrogen so when it starts to fluctuate so can our mood and cognitive ability. Anxiety causes a rise in cortisol production and cortisol eats, yes you guessed it, serotonin, causing a spiral effect.

Many of the women that I counsel tell me how they are considering giving up careers that they have spent a lifetime building and sadly by the time they find me some of them already have. Many say their decision to leave the workplace is because they felt unsupported and unable to discuss their situation with management. We currently have 4.3 million women in the workplace over the age of 50 which is a 72% rise since 1992. Menopause should be part of every wellbeing programme and supporting women to remain at work by implementing a few simple adjustments is not rocket science. If organisations want to retain valuable members of staff there needs to be recognition that menopause awareness in the workplace is a win win situation.

Personal relationships can

be tricky at any time but

particularly during meno-

pause. I often counsel

women who tell me that their

relationships are in trouble

or in the saddest

cases have already ended.

Relationships can be complex

but if you don’t understand

what is happening to you it’s

unlikely that your partner

will and they can often feel

excluded and helpless. Many

women are unaware that

recurrent UTI’s and vaginal

symptoms including dryness

and soreness

can be related to menopause

but if they are struggling with those and find it difficult to discuss physical intimacy can be affected leading to a further breakdown in communication. There are very effective localised treatments available for both urinary and vaginal symptoms and it is vital to address them early.

Menopause can be a transformational time in a woman’s life and if you have found yourself with strong yearning to retreat to spend time alone you are in good company. Many women speak to me about a desire to be free of the responsibilities and distractions that come with putting others first to enable them to reflect on the past and consider the future. Menopause should be a time of self care but in today’s 24/7 world that can be very difficult but we must make some time to care for ourselves.

Many women find it a challenge to put themselves first but simple things like giving yourself regular time away from your phone and social media, a cuppa in the garden or a couple of hours with a good book can be a great start. Menopause is an ideal time to review your lifestyle, its worth considering you’re eating and drink habits, your exercise regime and looking at including some mindfulness and yoga in to your week. A gentle Hatha or restorative yoga class can be really beneficial for both your physical and mental health and there are now some excellent mindfulness apps available including CALM and Headspace.

Menopause is often depicted as a very negative time in a woman’s life and whilst it can be tricky for some it’s important to remember that with the right advice and support it doesn’t have to be. Every woman deserves access to factual, evidence based information upon which to make an informed decision about how she manages her menopause symptoms.

Personally I have never been happier, healthier and more confident than I am now although it has very much been a work in progress. I no longer do things I don’t want to do, go to places I don’t want to go or spend time with people I don’t choose to. If any of that sounds selfish don’t be mistaken, its exactly the opposite, this is self care and it’s vital if you are to give your very best to those you care for and the endeavours you choose to focus on.

My top tip for navigating this stage in your life is educate yourself.

Knowledge is power and it is so important to understand what is happening during menopause. If you are one of the 75% of women who will experience some symptoms knowing how you can manage them before they happen can be very empowering.

Menopause is a natural stage of life but to navigate it well we need to take control of our own health and wellbeing. Most importantly recognise that this is an ideal opportunity to be kind to yourself.

On the 18th of October 2018 (World Menopause Day) I launched the #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign in Parliament to improve

menopause care and support for all women throughout the U.K both now and for future generations. We currently have over 15,000 signatures on the petition. The campaign calls for -

1. Comprehensive menopause training to be a

compulsory part of GP education

2. Menopause guidance in every workplace

3. Menopause education and awareness

included in the PSHE curriculum

I would be delighted if you would support the campaign by signing and sharing the petition by visiting

By Diane Danzebrink

Diane is The Menopause Counsellor, a Psychotherapist and Wellbeing Consultant with professional nurse training in menopause. She is the founder of Menopause Support and The Menopause Support Network, a private Facebook community which currently supports over 5,000 women.