find out more by joining our FREE 9 week course, looking at all aspects of the peri-menopause and menopause including: STRESS and ANXIETY, HOT FLUSHES, NIGHT SWEATS and SLEEPING PROBLEMS and how to manage them. Leave the course more CONFIDENT, more KNOWLEDGEABLE, more ABLE TO COPE and with increased SELF ESTEEM WEDNESDAYS 6 . 45PM – 8 . 45PM 24TH APRIL TO 19TH JUNE VENUE : WHITMORE COMMUNITY CENTRE 2 – 4 PHILLIP STREET HACKNEY N1 5NU The course is FREE but you do need to book a place
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No-one asked me, no G.P enquired about any menopausal issues although I was a fairly regular user of the G.P surgery. I myself, was the one who ‘raised the alarm’, brought it to their attention. I was offered HRT which I had heard a lot of negative stuff about. I decided to look for other ways, things to alleviate the symptoms at least. Eventually, I was signposted to HandsInc by a support worker. I signed up for an 8 week course even though, by now, I had actually given up on the whole ‘menopause thing’. I’m glad I came as I have met many women here in the same ‘predicament’.
Generally, women do not speak openly about the menopause. There is an air of embarrassment, a sense of affliction. Women almost whisper about the menopause. People offer remedies and tips but they don’t always work. When I was young, I witnessed my mother going through ‘the sweats’ and found her to be quite annoying…always opening windows! I was horrified when I found out that I was peri-menopausal. It felt like my life as a woman was waning, dwindling away before my very eyes.
All I had in my toolkit was my mother’s advice:- – cotton clothing which was lighweight but highly absorbent. -a cotton flannel to wipe the face. – layers of clothing to be peeled off as required, allowing one to be discreet in plain sight of all. – the obligatory fan(s) to provide instant cooling should one succumb to the unforgiving, annoyingly momentary, ‘ heat rush of the flush.’
I now realise that no 2 women are the same, each individual has their own experience of the menopause. Some women may start sooner than others and some may have no symptoms at all. I am not my mother and will have to embark on my own journey of discovery concerning the menopause. I will eventually assemble a toolkit of my own. I console myself by knowing that the menopause will not last forever and subsequently, I will get my life back!
menopause started pretty well as clockwork, more or less around my
49th birthday. I’d previously had a hysterectomy (large
fibroids) when I was in my early forties, so had none of the usual
warning signs. I still have ovaries; the HRT wasn’t a direct
result of the op.
was on holiday, staying in an hotel in which they’d turned the
mattresses plastic side up, presumably to try to prevent damage, and
started getting very sweaty at night. This I put down to the
plastic mattress top.
the holiday, the sweats continued off and on, and I suddenly realised
what was happening. I wanted to carry on without taking any
prescription drugs, but traditional things like Evening Primrose,
Black Cohosh, and Sage Tea had no effect whatever. As my night
and day sweats were getting heavier and heavier – there came a point
at which I had to sleep in towels because I was pretty well running
with sweat a lot of the night – I finally went off to the doctor who
put me on HRT, an oestrogen-only variety as I was in no danger of
cancer (after the hysterectomy). This pretty well did the
trick, or at least brought everything down to a manageable level.
GP left the practice, and the one I started seeing after that said
that taking HRT for thirteen years (as I had been) was not a good
idea (this was after the results of the Million Women Study,
subsequently regarded as having been flawed), and recommended coming
off it. “It’ll all be over in six months”, she said,
brightly. Four years later… The same doctor later
suggested I try some anti-depressant or other, explaining that the
side-effects of this drug included drying up the body (and thus
limiting sweating). I did, but certainly wouldn’t do it if I
had my time over again. Other side-effects were not pleasant
and I’m not sure what the drug was doing to my mental state. On one
occasion (I think when she prescribed the anti-depressants) the same
(second) GP said cheerily, “Of course, some women have symptoms
osteopath was horrified when I said I was still having sweats after
all this time, and recommended me to a herbalist who had a room in
her practice. About eighteen months of herbal treatment made a
huge difference but, unfortunately, the woman went back to Denmark on
a research project. She gave me details for another herbalist
but I didn’t go for while as I wanted to see if I could now cope
without taking anything. However, I eventually decided to try
again and went to the second herbalist. She was helpful, though
not as much so as the first one, but also moved away after about a
then I’ve been to a third herbalist with little result that I can
attribute to her treatment. I still get sweats occasionally at
night and/or first thing (say 6:30) in the morning, and very
occasionally when I’m exercising – tai ch’i and ch’i kung
particularly: I can usually distinguish between sweating through
exercise and a hot flush.
now 74, so it’s all been ongoing for more than 25 years.
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
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.
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’
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.
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.