What did you think about Davina's Menopause programme?
That has been a question I have been asked many times over the last few days as many of you have been interested in my thoughts and opinions. So here goes (and remember these are just my thoughts and opinions).
Overall I thought it was a very positive programme that will make a huge difference to many women, so well done Davina for speaking out and sharing her experience so honestly. I hope the programme was watched by husbands, partners, colleagues and bosses as all too often menopause is something women are just left to deal whilst being made to feel that they have ‘lost the plot’.
We talk about menopause a lot at Amaranth. Brain fog, mood swings, hot sweats, joint paint, weight gain and dryness are all commonly mentioned symptoms by our clients and as the programme showed, these symptoms can have a huge impact on quality life and relationships.
I was pleased that the programme addressed the different ways women can get help and the solutions available to them. I welcomed the mention of lifestyle and exercise as part of the tool kit. I have seen first-hand many times, the difference that lifestyle changes, stress reduction techniques, building strength and flexibility and and, in some case, weight loss can make.
Personally, however, I don’t see menopause as a long term oestrogen deficiency as was mentioned in the programme. To me it is a life stage and I question whether in some cases women are now experiencing greater symptoms due in part to high stress lifestyles, less fresh, nutrient rich foods, higher levels of obesity and more exposure to environmental factors (including those that have an oestrogen mimicking effect), or is it just that we are talking more and so more aware of what others are going through? Possibly a combination of both?
I don’t have strong opinions on HRT, I believe there is the right choice for every woman. It is important that accurate information is available to make that choice and that every woman has access to HRT if it is right for them. The programme was clear to readdress previous negative reports from the Women’s Health Initiative and further information was provided as to benefits of HRT on brain health which I am keen to understand further and will be looking into. A very interesting point that was made is that we are living longer and so living for more years without oestrogen which may have negative effects (and so we may have a greater need for HRT than we had years ago). Whilst the programme was very pro HRT, I still believe this needs to be a personal choice. A consideration for me is that our bodies have been designed in such a way that oestrogen naturally declines with age and so whilst there are benefits of replacement for many, this may not be the case for all. Many people may choose to embrace menopause as a natural transition and life stage and they should be supported in doing so if that is their choice.
Supplements had only a brief mention in the programme and I believe there are reasons for this. Firstly, most supplements are not licensed and regulated in the same way that pharmaceutical medications are. For that reason health claims cannot and should not be made on TV programmes. Supplements should be taken with proper advice rather than a ‘one size fits all approach’ and so it could be very misleading talking about these in a very general way.
Secondly, there is a huge variety in the quality of supplements on the market – many will be absolutely no use at all due to the form and dosage of the nutrients and ingredients included. These will however be marketed with the word ‘meno’ in them. For this reason supplements often get a bad press and ‘no evidence that that work’, yet time and time again I see incredible results from the use of appropriate, good quality supplements.
Myself and the Nutritional Therapists at Amaranth have each spent three years understanding nutrient forms, research evidence and dosage in our studies and then many more years in practice. We are still learning so it is impossible for someone picking up a packet from a shelf to understand whether it is a useful product or not. When I work with supplements for peri menopause, this is part of a personalised approach. Myself or one of my team will ask about lifestyle, stress, sleep, digestion and diet. All of these can affect hormone balance, the presentation of symptoms and how you deal with them. The suggestions we make will be based around this. It is never as simple as ‘red clover’ fits all as the programme almost suggested.
We choose supplements from across several professional quality brands that we trust. These brands invest heavily in research to be sure that their products contain forms and dosage for the body to use. Through a personalised approach, lifestyle modifications and quality tailored supplements we often see a huge difference in women’s lives. This approach can be alongside HRT, it doesn’t have to be either or (our recommendations would reflect this).
So if I had to summarise. I thought it was a very well put together programme, that will bring powerful support, understanding and solutions to women which can only be a good thing. I would have liked to have seen a little more detailed information on lifestyle considerations and some interviews with some expert nutritionists or functional medicine practitioners that could have explained more about these options, hopefully this information can be more readily available in future programmes.
What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the programme and also your experience of menopause and what has worked for you.
Let me know!
P.S If you want to discover more about how a personalised supplement and lifestyle approach may help you, I have appointments for a free one to one 15 minute health review via zoom or telephone available during June and July. Book here.
Full detailed one to one consultations with a registered nutritional therapist are also available. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange for a nutritionist to call you to explain more.