A blog about managing the menopause and helping others by talking about our experiences.
AD: This content has been created as part of a PAID PARTNERSHIP with Shionogi B.V. in support of Femal.
Research shows that almost 70% of midlife women don’t know what to expect when it comes to the menopause, and the majority of us feel unprepared for it when it arrives [i].
If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you will remember I took part in the #ExpressYourFemal campaign a few months ago, to open up the conversation around menopause. We wanted to smash the taboo of talking about this inevitable stage in women’s lives, to help us all prepare for it.
Since then, there has been a tangible shift in attitudes.
We need to talk about menopause
My peer group seems much more willing to discuss it, on social media as well as in person. I have seen businesses provide training for employees on the impact of menopause in the workplace.
BBC Breakfast devoted a week to the issue and there are discussions afoot to add menopause to secondary school sex and relationship lessons in the UK.
One side effect of speaking out about menopause is that people ask me for advice on the topic. Beyond my personal experience, I’m no expert. Fortunately, I know someone who is.
While taking part in the #ExpressYourFemal campaign last year, I met Specialist Menopause Nurse, Kathy Abernethy. She has some great general advice for surviving and thriving during the menopause and I would like to share them with you here, along with some of my own tips.
Top tips for surviving and thriving
- Eat well
Eating a balanced diet is essential for good health throughout our lives. But when we’re menopausal, there are certain foods which can trigger hot flushes and increase insomnia [ii]. Kathy advises we avoid caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol and large quantities of sugar and salt.
- Get active
We lose bone strength during menopause which can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis [iii]. Regular exercise, particularly resistance training, can help build up bone strength. Exercise also releases those good endorphins and makes you feel all smug – so good for your mental health [iv].
- Better out than in
Talking about perimenopause has been invaluable to me. Many of my friends are going through changes. Even though we’re all experiencing slightly different symptoms, knowing that I’m not alone is incredibly reassuring. Making the menopause a normal topic of conversation will help us all learn from each other and feel supported.
Talking of which – there probably is such a thing as over-sharing…
While walking my dog in the woods last week, I bumped into another dog-walking mum. I don’t know her well, but we often chat as we stroll through the woods together.
For some reason I haven’t yet figured out, on this particular morning I started talking to her about my sex life, contraception, menopause – you name it, nothing was out of bounds.
About five minutes into the conversation, she seemed distracted and told me to hold on. Turns out she had her sister hanging on the phone, listening to this whole explicit conversation through my friend’s earpiece. Mortifying.
The moral of the story: by all means talk, discuss and share. But know your audience.
- Me time
This is a difficult one, as many of us are at the age when we’re caring for young children and possibly supporting our elderly relatives. We are the sandwich generation – and I’m not talking about carbs here.
Because of these pressures, on top of our biological changes, we must take time to relax and unwind. Otherwise, how can we separate the stresses of daily life from our menopausal symptoms?
You don’t have to spend money on a fancy spa or yoga retreat. Just go for a walk, read a book, have a long bubble bath, or watch TV on your own for a while.
- Do your research
Thank goodness for the internet. There is loads of information out there about the menopause, including support groups on Facebook, where women share their experiences and seek advice.
It’s important not to put up with symptoms without understanding them. If you need to, seek help from a medical professional who can provide further advice and put your mind at ease.
- Tackle the symptoms
Hot flushes come out of the blue and can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Wearing loose natural materials and layers which can be easily removed can help. Keep a discrete personal fan or water spray in your handbag to cool you down.
Avoid having to rush, which leads to stress and can raise your temperature. I’m ten minutes early for everything, giving me a few minutes to compose myself when I arrive.
- Talk to your employer
HR departments are becoming more enlightened about the impact of menopause on women in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to have a confidential chat with someone in HR, about making allowances for you. They might be able to adapt your uniform or allow you to have more frequent breaks.
Femal’s offer to you
I’ve been taking Femal for several months. Femal is a once-daily food supplement which has been formulated to support women through all stages of the menopause. Its active ingredient is made from pollen extract. After 12 weeks of using Femal, 93% of women believed that Femal was “very effective” or “effective” during the menopause.i
Femal is offering Lifestyle Maven readers a discount of 20%. All you need to do is use the discount code VICKI20 (case sensitive) at the checkout. This discount code is limited to one use per customer. The code expires on 31st March 2020.
I hope that with more discussion, education and support, women will begin to feel more prepared for the menopause. Please help by sharing this blog and social media posts and leaving me a comment below.
Much love, Vx[Disclosure: #AD this post was written in partnership with Femal. Femal costs £26.20 for a one month supply and is available from femal.co.uk and Amazon. I use affiliate links.]
[i] Femal surveyed over 2000 women in the UK, aged between 45 and 60
[ii] Abernethy, K. 2018. The one-stop guide menopause. A practical guide to understanding and dealing with the menopause, Profile books. London.
[iii] NHS (2017). Menopause and your bone health. [Accessed 13th December 2019] Available on: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/menopause-and-your-bone-health/
[iv] NHS (2019). 5 steps to mental wellbeing. [Accessed 13th December 2019] Available on: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/
Document number: PP-UK-FEM-0125
Date of preparation: February 2020