So who watched the latest documentary from Davina McCall last night ‘Sex, Myths and the Menopause’? What did you think?
I wrote about my thoughts on the first programme in last year and many of you shared your thoughts and experiences too. The programme clearly had a huge impact, and I am sure that it has had a positive, life changing effect on many women’s lives. The follow up last night really triggered my emotions and perhaps more so than the first. In part because at Amaranth we continue to talk to women day in day out about their struggle with the stages of menopause but also because it focused so much more on the impact of menopause on the brain – brain fog and emotional symptoms that are causing women to have to make changes to the work and career that they have worked so hard for, and changes that are having a huge impact on relationships
It was reported that 1 in 10 people surveyed left their jobs because of the menopause and we also can’t ignore the reports this week of HRT rationing and potential shortages – it certainly makes you think.
Everyday women come to talk to us at Amaranth because they don’t know what to do or who to turn to when it comes to hormones and their symptoms. They want some help and someone to listen and understand. Since the reports of HRT shortages came out last week, we have heard worry and panic. Women are wanting to understand what they can do and if there are other options available to them. Of course, we are not medical doctors, we can’t and won’t provide advice on HRT or other medications. We can however explain more about what is happening in your body and provide personalised information as to lifestyle and nutritional approaches that can help your overall health now and in the future.
Whilst it wasn’t the main focus of the programme - diet, exercise, weight management and stress were acknowledged, particularly for women who can’t take HRT. In the years that I have been working with female hormones, I have also seen the benefits first hand that an integrated approach that involves HRT, lifestyle and diet can bring for menopause symptoms, general wellbeing and for future health.
I’m now 48 and recognising some of the symptoms reported in the programme in myself. I am going at a slower pace (slightly!) and I’m perhaps not quite as excited or motivated about things as I used to be. I certainly struggle with words and spelling – sometimes I know what I want to write but just cannot work out the letters, thank goodness for spell check! The last few years of have been stressful, so I know that hasn’t helped. For now, though, I feel I am managing things and overall, I feel good. I take a whole host of adaptogens for the stress response, alongside maca, and some phytoestrogens. I eat well, exercise and try to take some time out with treatments and downtime with friends to bring down stress levels. I’ll never know how the progression would have been without these things but based on the research I have, I genuinely believe that this approach has helped me and up to now, my peri menopause is manageable. I can’t say what the next few years will bring and I have an open mind about talking to my GP and assessing my suitability for HRT if that is something I feel I need. A bit of a game changer for me from the documentary however, is that I have always thought that I would consider HRT as and when I thought I needed it, and to be honest, was keen to see whether I could manage with a natural approach. The programme, however, explained research into changes to the brain that occur as a result of falling oestrogen levels. It seems that these changes are not reversible, so should I be considering HRT, almost as a preventative to preserve my brain? That I am not sure. I’ll certainly be trying to understand this more and be following information as it becomes available.
Aside from HRT, another thought I often come back to (and I raised in my last blog on this), is that we do also need to look at other reasons for some of the symptoms we face at this time. There is no doubt that hormonal changes have a huge impact but for many it is also a time of great emotional change – children leaving home, finding a new role and identity, caring for parents, whilst often working full time in a position of responsibility. In the distant past, this was the time that women’s lives were slowing down, they had less years ahead and the traditional role of a mother and homemaker was taken over by the children or the responsibilities reduced as they moved on. Now these are often the years of the greatest responsibilities – even without hormone changes, it’s no wonder women are feeing exhausted and emotional at this stage. Add to this the fact that our diets are often not as nutritious as they could be, we put others first and so we grab the first bit of food we see. We are busy, and tired so exercise is pushed to the bottom of the list, and we often don’t have the time, or money to book in a restorative treatment or yoga session. When our bodies produce stress hormones, this can affect how they produce other hormones, particularly progesterone. Stress will also deplete nutrients – particularly B Vitamins and magnesium, which we need to create energy. Other nutrients such as protein are needed to produce those feel good neurotransmitters – serotonin and dopamine and we know that iron deficiency causes fatigue and can lead to hair loss. I’ll never buy the ‘supplements don’t work’ argument. You won’t feel any better taking a nutrient at a low level of something that you already eat plenty of, but correcting a deficiency or taking a good quality, well absorbed supplement of a nutrient that you specifically need more of can make you feel a lot better. I always advise that you take personal advice from a qualified and registered nutritional therapist. You can book a free call with one of our nutritional therapists for advice and recommendations.
I could (and do) talk about this for hours. If you want to know more please take a look at my blog ‘A Natural Approach to Menopause’. Watching this documentary has also kicked me into doing two things I have been meaning to for a while, which you may be interested in finding out more about :
1. Completing my own DUTCH Hormone test.
This comprehensive test reports on the levels of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and metabolites at a specific point in my cycle. It also reports on stress hormones and melatonin (our sleep hormone). We now offer this test in clinic in conjunction with Nutritional Therapist Gemma Day. I will be sending my test in this weekend and Gemma and I will be reporting back and explaining the reports on here in a few weeks time. If you want to find out anymore about the DUTCH test and our hormone packages you can drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Setting up an informal menopause talk/webinar for Amaranth.
The Amaranth events programme has been a little depleted over the last couple of years but I have been busy giving webinars and talks at corporate events, so it is time to bring this back to Amaranth. I’d love you to join me for an informal event where I explain more about what is happening in the body through the stages of menopause. I will talk about the options with regards to natural remedies and lifestyle approaches, options for testing and you can ask questions and just generally discuss menopause. This session will be relevant to you whether or not you take HRT If you are interested please note the dates :
Live session in Bramhall : Wednesday 8th June 7.30pm
Virtual/Zoom sessions : Monday 6th June 6pm
Booking pages to follow very soon but please email me or comment below and I’ll send you the link just as soon as it is available email@example.com.
I’ll stop my frantic keyboard tapping now but just one last thing… How many of your husbands, partners or male bosses to watched this documentary? If they didn’t, I encourage you to ask them too. Women are talking more but we need to get men talking and understanding menopause too.
I qualified as a nutritional therapist in 2010 following a journey with my own health and hormones, since then I have helped hundreds (possibly thousands) of people to understand their health and the small steps that they can take to enhance the quality of their lives.
The short version of my story is that I spent my 20’s working in a stressful job in London with long working hours, little home cooked food, a lot of corporate drinking events, not much exercise or sleep. Prior to that, as a student I liked nothing more than a pot noodle or white rice with sauce (low calorie and cheap – perfect). After getting married and trying unsuccessfully for a baby, I was diagnosed with the hormone condition PCOS. I discovered that this condition was linked to diet and set about learning all I could and putting it into practice. 3 years later my first son was born. After the birth of my second son I went back to college and qualified as a Naturopathic Nutritional therapist in 2010.
I work with people one to one to help them understand why they experience symptoms, their diet and their lifestyle and to guide them through changes to enhance the quality of their lives. My passion and specialism is female health and hormones, initially fertility and PCOS but as I have got older and clients have too, I now work primarily on supporting women through peri menopause and menopause years.
Along the way I have completed hours and hours of extra training, including functional medicine (AFMCP) and specialist courses on hormones, immune function, skin conditions and digestion. In 2012 I founded the health and wellness stores Amaranth to allow me to work with a team of holistic health practitioners and to provide access to specifically selected supplements to enhance the life and health of my clients.
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