It’s time to rethink HRT by Dr. Clare Bailey

Hot flushes, irritability, memory loss, sleep disruption, mood changes, dry vagina, loss of libido, joint and muscle pains… the menopause isn’t a barrel of laughs for many women, about 25 per cent of whom have severe symptoms that can persist for years.

So when hormone replacement therapy (HRT) came along to combat these symptoms, it was a godsend. But then followed the health scares about increased risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart disease, and GPs pretty much stopped prescribing it.

However, according to GP and menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson, who wrote a recent report for the Royal College of General Practitioners, it’s increasingly clear that many of the ‘scares’ were largely unfounded. As she points out, ‘Much of the negative publicity surrounding HRT stems from the misinterpretation of the findings in the Women’s Health Initiative study, published more than a decade ago. Many women and healthcare professionals are still unnecessarily concerned about the perceived risks of HRT, resulting in a significant proportion of patients being refused it and inappropriately offered antidepressants.’

The replacement hormones have since been developed and refined, producing a wide range of options: oestrogens, with or without progestogens, and even the male sex hormone testosterone is getting a look-in (though not available routinely on the NHS). They can also be taken in different forms: as tablets, skin patches, creams or gels – no wonder it all becomes a bit confusing.

So which one should you take?

In combined HRT, progestogen is added to the oestrogen to protect you from womb cancer. Those who have had a hysterectomy to remove their womb need oestrogen-only HRT.

To combat hot flushes, giving oestrogen transdermally – as gels and skin patches – is often better than tablets, and unlike oestrogen tablets, is also suitable for the obese and those with increased risk of thrombosis, diabetes or liver disease. What’s more, transdermal oestrogen doesn’t seem to increase the risk of stroke.

Combining progestogens with oestrogen can raise blood pressure, increase the risk of thrombosis, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. However, the newer micronised progesterone tablets, such as Utrogestan, have fewer side effects and have shown no increased risk of breast cancer for the first five years of taking it. And after that the risk remains low. Alternatively, the progestogen-releasing intrauterine system (coil) is a good option, though it’s unclear if there is an increased risk of breast cancer.

If you are taking combined HRT and are over 51, it’s important to attend breast screening appointments as there can be a small increased risk of breast cancer, although this drops back to normal within five years of stopping.

For local symptoms vaginal creams, rings and pessaries at a low dose can be effective, without the need for progesterone.

For many women, risks of HRT are usually outweighed by the benefits. Discuss your needs and options with your doctor.

Menopause Awareness Course 2019

Feeling hot hot hot?

Feeling HOT? HOT? HOT?

Then why not come to our FREE  Menopause Course


9 week course looking at all aspects of the peri-menopause and menopause. Increase your knowledge, learn to manage symptoms.  Leave the course more confident, more able to cope and with increased self esteem.

Before the course I felt I was Drowning and now I can Swim’

 Starts Wednesday 16th January 2019

At Whitmore Community Centre

2-4 Philip Street

Hackney N1 5NU

1pm -3pm

This course is free but you do need to book


or call 020 3051 8626

Creative Expression & Menopause

The menopause can often help women explore and express their more creative side. We ran a focus group with women asking them about their experience of dealing with symptoms and what it was like going through the menopause. One of the participants Ular Germain came up with a brilliant analogy of feeling like a tree with heat rising from her roots and each leaf feeling like the different symptoms she was experiencing. Ular also wrote a poem about her experiences.

Enjoy and talks Ular for sharing your creative juices


Woke up sweaty, hot and bloated. “Why?” I ask myself.

A shower. Surely that will cool me down.

Whose body is this? Raw, listless, sweating.

Breakfast: surely that’s something I can do.

Breakfast’s done, I should feel better.

But no.

Limp and aching. I need to lie down; curl up into a ball to calm the throbbing in my body.


Have I been prodded and probed, injected with an illness

That runs rampant through my body, replacing my energy with pain.

Please make the pains stop; the monthly show, I can handle that.

But being a lab rat for the menopausal? No!


Menopause Tree

Menopause & Me

You can read a lot about the negative aspect of the menopause but it can also be a time of inspiration and creativity for a  lot of women. Here is a lovely piece of prose produced by one of the members of our short 6week menopause group.

Meno graphic

So there I was minding my own business and here she arrives,

causing chaos like an old friend you no longer see

making me aggressive and masculine so I’ve been told

Irritated and annoyed for no good reason.

Coming into my life trying to turn it upside down at only 46 years old

“Go away”, I said

Would prefer you to annoy someone else…..

making me wake in the middle of the night

soaking wet from sweating

I never sweated after a heavy gym session or fun session

but here I am sleeping….

minding my business

and you wake me up so I have to change my bed and clothes

“How spiteful are you?” especially when I’m so tired!

You’ve caused me no end of problems down there

Ovarian Cysts




Lack of sex drive



and almost wilting as if the flower is dying.

I speak to women in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who don’t even have half of these problems

“So Why annoy me with it?”

“Haven’t I been through enough?”

So I was thinking my symptoms started a year after I got sterilised 4/5 years ago

“Was you angry?”

I cried but contemplated that decision for nearly 5 years

I’m not angry

I just want to know WHY you decided to come when I wasn’t ready !! 


By Hyacinth Myers

Course participant 2018




Menopause Awareness Event 18th Oct

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World Menopause Day is held each year on the 18th October to raise awareness of midlife women’s health. To celebrate this Hands Inc will be hosting a Menopause Awareness Event.

If menopause symptoms are getting you down or you just want to find out more about what happens in transition to menopause. Come along to our Menopause Awareness event on Oct 18th.

We will have lots to keep you entertained and pampered:

  • Stalls to find out about ways to manage symptoms,
  • Info about our Menopause Support Group and courses,
  • Light refreshments and
  • Free massage sessions to pamper yourself.

We’ll also have an extract from Paula David’s play Blood Sweat & Vagina’s, featuring a tale of a menopausal woman’s mid life crisis.–vaginas.html

Don’t let the menopause get you down come out and treat yourself to a good night out.

Date: 18.10.18

Time: 6-8.30pm

Venue: Halkevi Community Centre, 31-33 Dalston Lane, Hackney, E8 3DF

Contact us to book: 0203 051 8626

FREE 6 week Menopause Awareness course starting in September


Are you experiencing difficult menopausal symptoms or just curious to find out more about the menopause? Join our course to get your questions answered, share experiences and learn how to get the best out of this time of transition in a fun, friendly atmosphere.

To register or to know more please call us on 020 3051 8626 or email