Firstly bloody brilliant for putting together a prime time programme on menopause and getting people talking about it. Menopause has been a bit like a dirty secret for generations, women often suffering in silence and feeling shame, Made to feel mad if they complained or were difficult. Women put up and shut up. So, yes, it’s great that we are becoming more open about this fascinating part of our lives. It’s a great start.
Also great was that she highlighted the bizarre fact that GP’s get next to no training about any part of the menopause! WTF! Really, that is absolutely crazy while also totally typical of our health care system I’m afraid. Even when the GP’s do get training its usually delivered by a Pharma company that’s selling HRT and is more about how to use it rather than any wider issues!
And I really liked her honestly and I think that’s really brave.
But, one of the things that frustrates me, is how the menopause journey is diminished to a list of symptoms and she fell right into that trap. Filling a massive bill board with just that. While these symptoms are very real for many women it would have been nice if there was a bit more of the positive stuff to balance it out. Just as positive birth stories are important for pregnant women to hear, positive menopause stories are important for those of us heading in that direction.
I loved the shots of all the women going swimming and it was a real shame that more wasn’t mentioned about how our lifestyle choices can make a difference. I know so many women that praise cold water swimming as an absolute saviour. Our choices around diet, exercise, relationships, sleep, work, passions and all round self care make a massive difference to all symptoms.
So on to HRT. It did seem a little like an ad for HRT and I have a few reservations about that.
Firstly I think we’re right to be cautious about putting artificial hormones in our bodies, esp when so many doctors haven’t received training. I’ve heard countless horrible stories.
My second concern is that if taking the HRT sorts out all the symptoms then women maybe won’t make the lifestyle choices that would help alleviate them but carry on as they did through their 30’s and 40’s.
These changes are really important as, menopause or not, we are ageing and we have to take more care.
Also what happens when we stop the HRT? Will we experience problems then? How long can we take it for?
Thirdly, will we experience the journey of transformation if we keep our hormone levels the same as a young woman?
There’s a fascinating piece of research that shows the changes in the brain as we go through menopause. The drop in oestrogen causes us to be less empathetic and compliant. It propels us into a stage of our lives when we want to focus on ourselves. We begin prioritise our own passions and be come more comfortable with doing as we please. Would this still happen if we take HRT?
I’m not at all saying that HRT is bad or wrong and I’m certainly not prescribing to the idea that you’re failing if you can’t do it naturally, but there were some definite gaps in the programme.
I think one programme is no where near enough.