Feeling perimenopausal? Here’s how to decode your perimenopausal mindset

Remember when we thought we would have it all nailed in our forties? Remember when we walked into the kitchen and actually remembered what we walked into the kitchen for; and didn’t have to walk out and back in again seventy billion times to remember that all we wanted was just a cup of coffee? Feeling perimenopausal and wondering what has become of your life?

The advent of peri-menopause seems to come at the hardest time of our lives – often as we’re navigating children getting older but somehow needing us more. It’s a time when some of us are thinking of running our own business and then BANG here comes the brain fog, the anxiety, the overwhelm and all of the rage.

So what can we do about it?

Well we can try and rock in a corner, but then someone will probably ask us what’s for tea and whether we can give them a lift to their mates round the corner…

So we have no choice but to crack on and just push forward, even if we’re feeling perimenopausal, right?

You have a choice

Well we do have a choice if we’re feeling perimenopausal. We have a choice to make every day and it comes down to mindset (and in my case a sh!t load of HRT).

Navigating the murky world of feeling perimenopausal, and everything it entails, can become a daily battle and our best asset to learning to swim in the channel is to train our brains, take back control and work really blinking hard to master our mindset.

The key to mastering your mindset when you’re feeling perimenopausal, to rewiring the main frame, is practice and commitment. That’s the key. If we simply think about it, there’s no benefit. We have to act on it. We have to take action. And there is only one person that can do it. It’s the same person who takes all the laundry up the stairs rather than simply stretching across it… That’s right, it’s you. It’s me. It’s the mental mum rocking in the corner still wishing the bloody fairy would turn up with her magic wand and just do something for her.

Our mindset is the key to the door. It is the magic wand (in the absence of a housekeeper, cook and chauffeur). If we can manage and master our mindset then we take back control, and we can stem (some) of the overwhelm, fear and rage that is often part of  the Peri-Menopause Party happening in our head.

Step one

The first step is simply self-awareness. How often do you get up in the morning and check in with how you’re feeling, what your mood is and how you’re going to approach the day? How often do you give yourself that crucial five minutes in the morning that can then impact your mood for the rest of the day?

As you’re waking up and slurping on that vat-load of coffee each morning, ask yourself how you are feeling; and then here’s the magic, ask yourself how that is going to impact your day and what your triggers are going to be.

So if you’re feeling perimenopausal and knackered, and you acknowledge that you’re more tired than anyone who grew up watching Nightmare on Elm Street, you can understand that you are potentially going to be triggered, and therefore should pause and step away before you totally blow a gasket. (Although I’m not sure Mother Theresa would remain calm during a morning routine school run with a teenager.)

feeling perimenopausal

Step two

There’s power in choosing your mood, and not letting it choose you when you’re feeling perimenopausal. In the Manchester Mindset I don’t advocate all of the positive affirmation and some high fiving of the mirror to get the day started. I advocate a much more realistic approach. Understand how you are feeling, understand how you are going to react given your mood and pop in a moment to pause.

The power of the pause is the best thing we can gift ourselves (well other than a week on a beach in Thailand with Tom Hardy). By stopping, by pausing and by giving ourselves a chance to process, we stand a better chance of managing our mood and our reactions and triggers.

Our brains have something called the default mode network – it’s where all of our experiences are processed, and it only comes into play when we are in active rest.

Science is very clear on the amount of rest we need: it’s 42 per cent. That’s the percentage of time your body and brain need you to spend resting. And that is about 10 hours out of every 24. Yep – none of that ‘I only need four hours’ sleep malarkey’.

Ladies, we need to be in a state of rest for 10 hours out of 24 so that we can function and fly. It’s simple; if you consistently don’t take the 42 per cent, the 42 per cent will take you. It will sneak up on you, it will hunt you down and it will pull you under – so give yourself some time back to pause, to process, to rest.

Step three


Third, and finally, there is power in a good routine and a plan. There is freedom in routine and rituals, particularly when you’re feeling perimenopausal.

Find yourself a routine in the morning and stick to it – no I don’t mean get up at 5am for a HIIT workout. I mean get yourself a cup of coffee in peace before the shouting begins. A big benefit of a routine is that it signals to the brain that it’s an automatic response, which means the brain then has increased mental resources for other tasks. Eliminating the need to constantly make decisions about a particular set of activities reduces “cognitive load”. 

Creating predictability reduces stress, which in turn can give your brain more energy to concentrate on other tasks. 

In a nutshell, once you decide to do something, it frees up your brain power and you get more sh!t done. Find your routine and you will give yourself some headspace – which is what we all crave during these bonkers years.

Feeling perimenopausal

So here’s your checklist to navigate the perimenopause:

  • Check in with yourself,
  • Check in with your triggers
  • Gift yourself the power of the pause
  • Rest, find a routine and repeat
  • Drink the coffee

Oh – and have a bloody good shout and a swear when you need to. Because let’s face it, we’re perfectly imperfect.

Sarah Knight, founder of Mind The Gap Academy, for consideration for any profiling slots and any features surrounding motherhood and mindset. Sarah is full of practical tips about how to rewire the brain, establish new habits and shift mindset, as well as juggle the menopause, being a mum and running a business. 

With over 20 years experience in business, Sarah specialises in providing tailored training and coaching programmes to individuals and organisations through her academy, Mind the Gap, to help them mind the gap between running a business, managing a business and staying sane!

Sarah Knight is founder of Mind The Gap Academy. She specialising in providing tailored training and coaching programmes to individuals and organisations through her academy, Mind the Gap, to help them mind rewire the brain, establish new habits and shift mindset. You can follow Sarah at www.instagram.com/mindthegap.academy and learn more about Sarah’s latest online courses by heading to www.mindthegap.academy.

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5 ways to manage the menopause without HRT

The well-documented Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) shortage has given many women reason to worry as this essential treatment helps to alleviate menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, low mood, anxiety and insomnia.

Whether you’re struggling with the perimenopause or menopause, we’re sharing five important ways to cope courtesy of Vitaminology – a health tech company reinventing how consumers discover and shop for vitamins helping them discover and compare the best supplements for them.

5 ways to cope and manage menopause without HRT

Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle coupled with nutritional supplements or botanical therapies offer natural, yet effective strategies to help manage symptoms for many peri-menopausal or menopausal women. 

Eat a whole foods, balanced diet

… to help balance hormones. Avoid refined carbohydrates, sugars, processed foods and saturated fats. Opt for a wide variety of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, good quality lean protein and healthy fats. Remember that spicy foods as well as alcohol and caffeine are triggers for hot flushes and night sweats. Eating oily fish 2-3 times a week (think SMASH – salmon, mackerel, anchovies and herring and sardines) will also help to support hormone balance.

Exercising regularly

…has so many benefits including our ability to cope with the menopause. It supports a healthy weight, cardiovascular function, improved sleep and the ability to cope with stress. Regular exercise doesn’t have to mean hours in the gym (although weight-bearing exercise is known to be extremely beneficial for bone growth and repair, reducing the risk of osteoporosis) so find something that fits into your lifestyle such as a yoga class or a long walk every day.

menopause without HRT

Keep stress at bay

…and promote calm using self-help techniques such as deep breathing, gentle exercise (ie, walking, Pilates, Yoga, Tai chi), meditation or journaling. Complementary therapies such as acupuncture may also be beneficial when coping with the menopause. A calmer mind will help to achieve a calmer body.

Sleep well

When we sleep our body uses this time to rejuvenate, so good quality sleep is vital when battling menopause symptoms. Try good sleep hygiene techniques such as switching off devices an hour before bedtime, reading or listening to music before going to sleep, taking a hot Epsom salt bath (contains magnesium to help relax the muscles and mind) to help get a good night’s rest. It is super beneficial to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and sleep for 7-8 hours.

Consider supplementation

Sometimes in life, we need a little extra help – and this is no different when it comes to our health and wellbeing. There are number food supplements that can help with the perimenopause and menopause including multivitamins specifically formulated. In addition to these, a Vitamin B Complex will help to support energy, mood and brain function or try Vitamin E to relieve hot flushes and vaginal dryness.

Summary

Whether you are considering HRT or trying to find a suitable alternative, always discuss first with your GP who can advise you of the benefits and risks in your individual case. Consult with a registered Nutritional Therapist who can support you through the menopause with advice on diet, lifestyle and supplementation.

Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet or healthy lifestyle.

References:

  • Cagnacci A, Venier M. The Controversial History of Hormone Replacement Therapy. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(9):602. Published 2019 Sep 18. doi:10.3390/medicina55090602
  • Chen MN, Lin CC, Liu CF. Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Climacteric. 2015;18(2):260-269. doi:10.3109/13697137.2014.966241
  • Dunneram Y, Greenwood DC, Cade JE. Diet, menopause and the risk of ovarian, endometrial and breast cancer. Proc Nutr Soc. 2019;78(3):438-448. doi:10.1017/S0029665118002884
  • Gava G, Orsili I, Alvisi S, Mancini I, Seracchioli R, Meriggiola MC. Cognition, Mood and Sleep in Menopausal Transition: The Role of Menopause Hormone Therapy. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(10):668. Published 2019 Oct 1. doi:10.3390/medicina55100668
  • Hill DA, Crider M, Hill SR. Hormone Therapy and Other Treatments for Symptoms of Menopause. Am Fam Physician. 2016;94(11):884-889.
  • Johnson A, Roberts L, Elkins G. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Menopause. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019;24:2515690X19829380. doi:10.1177/2515690X19829380
  • Joseph E. Pizzorno, Michael T. Murray, Herb Joiner-Bey, 53 – Menopause, Editor(s): Joseph E. Pizzorno, Michael T. Murray, Herb Joiner-Bey, The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine (Third Edition), Churchill Livingstone, 2016, Pages 624-647,ISBN 9780702055140.
  • Ko SH, Kim HS. Menopause-Associated Lipid Metabolic Disorders and Foods Beneficial for Postmenopausal Women. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):202. Published 2020 Jan 13. doi:10.3390/nu12010202
  • Larmo PS, Yang B, Hyssälä J, Kallio HP, Erkkola R. Effects of sea buckthorn oil intake on vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Maturitas. 2014;79(3):316-321. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.07.010
  • Lobo RA, Pickar JH, Stevenson JC, Mack WJ, Hodis HN. Back to the future: Hormone replacement therapy as part of a prevention strategy for women at the onset of menopause. Atherosclerosis. 2016;254:282-290. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2016.10.005
  • Rizzoli R, Bischoff-Ferrari H, Dawson-Hughes B, Weaver C. Nutrition and bone health in women after the menopause. Womens Health (Lond). 2014;10(6):599-608. doi:10.2217/whe.14.40

photos by wayhomestudio, valeria_aksakova, wirestock

Hormones in your 40s: Here’s what you need to know

Hormones – something most of us pretty much take for granted until they start to wreck havoc in our lives. Truth is, my struggle with hormones began much earlier than most when I had to have my thryoid removed due to precancerous cells in my thirties, and then again after the birth of my daughter. Having been on the receiving side of plenty of grief with my hormones, I am hugely respectful of them, and know just how important it is to understand them if we want to feel okay within ourselves. But what about hormones in your 40s? Well, that is a whole other chapter, right my friends?

During my thirties when I felt so bad I felt that I was actually going mad, it was The Marion Gluck Clinic that came to the resuce. They righted the wrong that nobody else seemed to be able to understand, and for that I am every thankful. That’s why this World Menopause Day, I really wanted to work together with them – as a world-leader specialising in hormone balancing therapy using bioidentical hormones – to produce this quick guide to hormones in your 40s.

It is both a privilege and honour that we have Dr Marion Gluck – Hormone and Women’s Health Specialist and Founder of The Marion Gluck Clinic – herself to share her incredible knowledge on the subject of hormones in your 40s.

Can you explain what exactly happens to women’s hormones their 40s?

From around the age of 40 ovaries will slowly lose their function and the effects of hormonal change starts to become evident as the body makes the natural transition to menopause. This phase is called the perimenopause, and the reproductive hormones, most significantly estrogen and progesterone, start to decrease.

When women are perimenopausal it is likely they will notice symptoms but will still have their period.  During this time, hormones will start to fluctuate on a big scale. There could be some months when ovulation occurs and then there could be some when it doesn’t. It’s a time of extremes and as a result, can cause dramatic mood swings and extreme symptoms. It can be a very difficult time for women because they often don’t understand what’s going on and just don’t feel themselves.

The ‘normal’ age for perimenopause varies. Most will become aware of the transition when they reach their mid to late forties, but some women can begin to experience symptoms of perimenopause as early as the age of 35. Often the timing of this phase is similar to the time when a woman’s mother went through the same transition. That being said, the length of time and severity of menopause-related symptoms for any individual woman cannot be predicted, and every menopause is unique. Genetic and environmental factors are an important factor in determining when a woman may enter the menopause.

Hormones in your 40s

What sort of knock-on effects do these changes have in relation to our bodies and minds?

Although some women will sail through perimenopause, many will experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Those who experience severe symptoms often find it impacts on quality of life. Signs of perimenopause are many and varied. Symptoms can include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
  • Low libido
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • PMS
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flushes
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Anger and irritability
  • Heart palpitations
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Memory loss
  • Night sweats
  • Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
  • Anaemia
  • Bloating
  • Fluid retention
  • Breast tenderness
  • Aches and painful joints
  • Frequent headaches
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Dry skin

Can you share some insider tips on how to manage

a) Sleep problems

A good night’s sleep is the best treat your body can ask for, especially when perimenopausal or menopausal. Good sleep helps to balance blood sugar, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps maintain a healthy weight, reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system, increases energy and concentration, and reduces anxiety. There are several factors that can affect sleep such as stress, hormonal changes, diet, and inflammation to name a few. For better sleep try the following:

– Regular moderate exercise is an excellent way to support good sleep. 

– Try limiting your alcohol intake, particularly in the evenings. Too much alcohol can have a detrimental effect on sleep quality as it reduces REM sleep (the restorative part of the sleep cycle) and can interrupt the circadian rhythm, a study has shown.

– Avoid foods containing a substance called tyramine, particularly in the evening, as this causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant. Foods with high content of tyramine include aged cheeses, red wine, some beers, cured meats, and smoked fish.

– If you are experiencing or have experienced prolonged periods of stress in the past, it may be recommended to get your daily cortisol pattern checked (a qualified medical professional or naturopath can help you with that). A disrupted cortisol pattern can affect your energy levels as well as sleep. If this is the case, a class of herbs known as adaptogens can be of great help.

– Getting your daily boost of sunshine is the way forward to better sleep. This is because we need sunlight to keep our circadian rhythm going, which tells our bodies when it is time to sleep and to be awake. Sunlight also plays a role in Vitamin D production, which is essential for so many aspects of our health.

Hormones in your 40s

b) Spots

The skin contains estrogen receptors, as well as receptors for progesterone and testosterone. Therefore, deficiencies of these three hormones contribute to skin aging, in both men and women and results in the skin becomes more prone to sun damage, pimples and rashes, and can be easily irritated.

Acne, which is usually a curse of adolescence (teenage acne) can also occur for the first time later in life (adult onset acne). All acne is hormone related but when we talk about ‘hormonal acne’ we typically refer to adult female acne.

Hormonal acne tends to affect more the lower part of the face and adult female acne can present with cyclical outbreaks and is usually more resistant to the standard treatments. Adult female acne can be caused by different hormonal imbalances such as raised male androgens or an imbalance

When experiencing female acne it is recommended that the woman complete hormone profiling to help determine which hormones require rebalancing. A bespoke treatment plan can then be actioned to target their needs. Prescription hormone face creams can also be used to improve female acne. Unlike commercially available skincare products, prescription creams are formulated to cater to the individual, addressing specific concerns.

c) Brain drain/Lethargy

Many women describe experiencing ‘brain fog’ during perimenopause and menopause and think that symptoms such as forgetfulness and increased anxiety are signs of them getting old or ‘going mad’. However, many of these symptoms can be attributed to the hormonal changes that take place during menopause.

Research has shown that certain lifestyle modifications can have a positive impact on cognitive function during menopause.  A recent study found that cognitive training, for example, doing puzzles or learning a new skill, improved people’s memory. Practising mindfulness and doing exercises, such as yoga and Tai Chi have also proved to be effective for improving cognitive function, partly through their stress-reducing qualities.

A balanced diet, low in sugar, caffeine and alcohol, is also recommended. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet, full of ‘good fats’ and fresh produce, is particularly beneficial for cognitive function.

Sleep is also vital as it removes toxins from the brain and quality, deep sleep enables memory consolidation and information processing from the day. Limiting screen time at night is essential as the blue light emitted from devices causes decreased levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Hormones in your 40s

What other options are out there for balancing hormones in your 40s?

If you’d rather not take hormone replacement therapy, then there are some natural alternatives you can try. One suggestion is Agnus Castus which is said to break down excessive hormones and rebalance them. The other widely known remedy is Evening Primrose oil which many people swear helps relieve menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms.

What are some signs you should not ignore when it comes to hormonal imbalance?

An optimal balance of hormones is vital to overall wellbeing including brain function, cardiovascular health, bones, vaginal and urethral health. We use bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), an alternative to HRT, to replenish these hormones to your optimal levels in order to maintain health, energy, mood and brain function. Any symptoms that affect quality of life, or brain or body function, should be checked by a professional.

When should women seek professional help?

As women move through each phase of perimenopause and menopause, hormone levels can fluctuate significantly causing hormonal imbalance. These vital hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone remain important for bones, vaginal and urethral health, skin, brain function and cardiovascular health. It is therefore important to effectively balance and replenish these hormones in order to maintain health, energy, mood and brain function.

Menopause may be something all women go through, but that doesn’t mean there is a ‘one size fits all’ treatment path. Every woman is unique, and their symptoms will be unique too. Women should seek help if their symptoms are having a detrimental impact on their life, and they feel unable to achieve tasks that before were commonplace. By looking at the whole picture, including lifestyle factors, nutrition and family medical history with a professional, a tailored treatment plan can be produced.

Have you experienced any of the above knock on effects of hormones in your 40s? Do leave a comment below and share your experiences and join our community on Instagram here where we’ll be keeping the conversation going.

About The Marion Gluck Clinic

The Marion Gluck Clinic is the UK’s leading medical clinic that pioneered the use of bioidentical hormones to treat menopause, perimenopause and other hormone related issues. Headed up by Dr. Marion Gluck herself, the clinic uses her method of bioidentical hormonal treatment to rebalance hormones to improve wellbeing, quality of life and to slow down ageing. 

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Will the menopause ruin your life? Here’s what you need to know

The menopause is big news at the moment, thanks to Davina’s candid account of her menopause experience over on Channel 4 a few months back. For those of us hitting our 40s, you might already wondering if the menopause will ruin your life.

It’s a harsh reality that the menopause descending on us one day becomes pretty much avoidable. No longer will we be laughing at women being attached to their wide open freezers trying to surpress the cruelty of hot flashes because one day – probably sooner than we think – those women will be us.

The truth is, I am actually completely bricking it at the prospect of the menopause wrecking my life. I am scared of being a foggy, dried up, manica whose life seems to be swung into complete calamity thanks to the change in hormones. I’m just not ready to go there yet, and I am beyond frightened.

And I am frightened because everyone’s experience seems to be so different! Some women I have spoken to seem to have breezed through it without so much as batting an eyelash. Others on the other hand have pretty much been falling apart at the seams. I hope and pray I will not be the latter, but knowing my luck with hormones I’m banking on becoming a wailing banshee, who can not sleep or basically function, drenched in menopause induced sweat. Please God don’t let it be so.

So will the menopause ruin your life? I’ve asked Teresa Townsend, Menopause and Mental Fitness Coach, to join forces with us in this little explainer – or should I say – spoiler about the menopause.

Menopause: The basics

Every woman will go through a menopause stage (unless her ovaries were surgically removed before puberty), some with little to no symptoms, and some with many.

Perimenopause can last upwards of 10 years. Hot flashes and night sweats on average last about seven and a half years and they can last upwards of 14 years. It’s variable and, of course, depends on factors like genetics and health.

It’s often misunderstood – even by healthcare professionals

Since perimenopause arrives at a time of life when many different events are at play – and because symptoms are so numerous – it can be misdiagnosed by GPs and other healthcare professionals. Often women “report suddenly getting panic attacks from nowhere”, are often thought to be depressed or suffering heart problems, when really it is their fluctuating hormones that are responsible. Another thing a lot of women are told is that it isn’t the menopause because they’re still having periods, again just misunderstanding what menopause actually is. Some women are put on anxiety medication instead of HRT and this is why this petition below is so important.

In the UK #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign is aiming for 150,000 signatures on a petition to parliament demanding mandatory menopause training for all GPs, and menopause policies in every workplace.

Only in September 2020 was the subject of Menopause added to the UK school curriculum.

During menopause, approximately 85% report experiencing symptoms of varying type and severity.

Premature menopause can happen in early teens or 20s – about one in 1000 women reach menopause before the age of 30.

Challenges at work

In a recent Chartered Institute of Personnel Development survey in the U.K. found that 59% of women experiencing menopausal symptoms said that it had a negative impact on their work and difficult to cope with their tasks. Another study of nearly 900 professional women found that lowered confidence, poor concentration and poor memory associated with menopause symptoms caused significant difficulties at work.

Your “bad” cholesterol may go up

Turns out estrogen does a lot more than help regulate our periods: It keeps LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) low and HDL cholesterol (the good kind) high. So, as estrogen decreases during menopause, LDL tends to rise and HDL stays the same. The good news, that if you lead a healthy lifestyle as you approach menopause you can prevent these fluctuations. What’s more, making sure you get plenty of exercise and that you’re eating a heart-healthy diet are two lifestyle changes that can go a long way toward countering these cholesterol changes during menopause.

You may feel less social

If you’ve always been an extrovert, you may be surprised when you suddenly feel like spending more time alone. “Menopause is an introspective period, which means you might experience an emotional shift that could affect your social life,” says Holly Lucille, ND, a naturopathic doctor in Los Angeles. “Don’t just jump to the assumption that you’re depressed. This newfound introspection should be honored.” At long last, this is often a time in a woman’s life when she starts to put herself first. “Prior to menopause, women are more likely to make sure that their kids, partner, parents, co-workers—you name it—get what they need, and only then does she take care of herself,” says Barb Dehn, RN, a nurse practitioner in Mountain View, Calif., and author of The Hot Guide to Cool Sexy Menopause. “During menopause, many women start prioritizing themselves and start thinking about what they want to do.”

The emotional symptoms can sometimes be worse than the physical symptoms

The emotions can be really horrible and take you by surprise! A lot of women find they get angry, irritable, short-tempered and apathetic. Be aware, for some women, the emotional side of it can be worse than the physical symptoms that you’re experiencing. 

menopause ruin your life

The following menopausal symptoms are not as common, but are also usually caused by the same hormonal shifts:

  • Forgetfulness, confusion, loss of focus, and difficulty concentrating: Decrease of estrogen and progesterone can provoke cortisol levels into becoming erratic, resulting in ‘brain fog’ and slower cognitive skill function.
  • Bloating: During perimenopause and early menopause, flagging hormones can create bloating. This often disappears when levels permanently stabilize.
  • Sleep problems: Dwindling hormones can trigger sleep disturbances such as interrupted rest, insomnia, waking up too early, or sleeping too long.
  • Burning tongue: This condition, simulates a fiery sensation in the mouth and tongue in about 40% of menopausal women. It can create a metallic taste, dryness, soreness, and tingling and is believed to be activated by a drop in estrogen.
  • Urinary and fecal incontinence or frequent urination: Significant changes to pelvic muscles damaged or weakened during childbirth, or waning estrogen can prompt more bathroom visits.
  • Thinning or loss of hair and brittle nails: Increase in androgens (male hormones) spur shrinkage in hair follicles. Bald patches, thinning, and undesirable ‘peach fuzz’ may develop, along with dry, brittle cracked nails.
  • Digestive problems: Constipation, indigestion, and gas can be attributed to cortisol levels affected by hormone reduction.
  • Headaches or migraines: If women experienced headaches before and during menstruation, this may continue throughout perimenopause and menopause. These often decrease or completely disappear after menopause.
  • Weight gain: Estrogen loss prompts fat redistribution to the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, and hips, resulting in that dreaded ‘middle age spread’.
  • Dizziness: Hormone fluctuations can disrupt efficient body and organ function, including the inner ear’s ability to provide balance, accounting for menopausal dizzy spells.
  • Increase in allergies: Ebbing hormones during menopause can accelerate histamine production, introducing new allergies or magnifying old ones.
  • Itchy skin, rash: Lubrication lost through lowered estrogen can spread throughout the body, contributing to dry skin, chafing from fabrics, and unpleasant reactions to soap and perfumes.
  • Breast sensitivity and pain (mastalgia): Hormonal spikes cause fluid buildup in the breasts, resulting in tenderness, swelling, and
  • Arthritis, joint, bone, and muscle aches: Estrogen minimizes inflammation. Loss of it intensifies aches, pains, stiffness, and
  • Irregular heartbeat and palpitations: Precipitated by hot flashes, these frightening sensations cause many women concern that they may be getting heart disease. Usually, this is not the case
  • Electric shocks: Often, these precursors to hot flashes radiate from areas on the head or extremities. It is theorized that these mild to severe jolts of pain can be ascribed to hormonal imbalances affecting the hypothalamus, or to neurons misfiring in the nervous system. Medical intervention is often necessary.
  • Change in body odour: Urinary or fecal odors arising from incontinence, pungent perspiration scents from hot flashes and night sweats, hormonal fluctuations affecting the thyroid’s impact on vaginal PH, producing a ‘fishy’ odor which can cause noticeable, unpleasant smells.
  • Tingling sensation throughout the body (paresthesia): Sensations like prickling, stinging, ‘pins and needles’, ‘crawling’ feelings, or numbness are experienced and are linked to the lubrication lost through estrogen drop.
  • Voice changes: As estrogen and progesterone diminish and testosterone rises, hoarseness, lowered pitch, and vocal fatigue after speaking too long are often overlooked menopausal symptoms.

Hormonal changes during menopause can contribute to several serious conditions in women, including:

  • Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can be life-threatening. Estrogen and progesterone dictate your cells’ insulin behavior. Disrupted hormonal balances weaken that message, leading to blood sugar level chaos, and then diabetes. Complications such as heart attack and stroke may follow.
  • High cholesterol: Waning estrogen boosts harmful LDL cholesterol and decreases good HDL cholesterol, inviting a fatty buildup in the arteries. This can lead to stroke and heart attack.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension): Plummeting hormones weaken the body’s resistance to several dangerous health risks, including those of salt and the rapid rise of a woman’s body mass index (BMI).
  • Irregular heartbeat (arterial fibrillation): Moderate symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, and shortness of breath. More severe cases can develop into blockages which can trigger stroke, heart disease, and even death.
  • Osteoporosis: Bones become thinner, fragile, and more brittle from lack of estrogen and can lead to fractures and breakage.
menopause ruin your life

Will the menopause ruin your life?

For some women the symptoms can be debilitating. It’s more challenging because it’s not a disease or illness as such but comes with so many symptoms that make you feel ill.

If you’re having hot flashes – it’s highly likely you’re worried it may happen in an important or when you’re out with family.

If you’re not sleeping well – it’s highly likely you’re going to feel tired, be more snappy and not performing at your best – then relationships/health/performance are all affected.

Constant headaches or feeling emotional – it’s highly likely you feel on the edge and more anxious – again adding a strain on health etc.

The combination of anxiety, sleep issues and hot flashes is going to be pushing you even harder.

Some people have a few symptoms, some people have lots and it can vary day to day. So knowing how to manage your emotions, self-care, slowing down, time management and having lots of support all will aid to making this time easier.

With all that said however, the menopause can actually be a great opportunity for women to look at their life differently.

Chances are you’ve not put herself first – you’ve been saying yes, when you should be saying no – you think you can do it all but you can’t. Looking after your own needs is not selfish – you’ve been rushing around and now it’s time to put yourself first and this is your chance to do so.

Coaching yourself through the menopause

A lady at the peak of her menopause was having panic attacks- feeling like she’s going crazy, having hot flashes and struggling to cope with her mood changes. Then on top of this she’s got a demanding job, three children, husband, house to manage and so on. All she wants to do is sleep and rest but she can’t.

Sound familiar? First of all it’s time to look at her self-care – very basic but it’s amazing how many women still don’t look after themselves. Water – healthy foods – exercise – sleep – rest – time for herself – general medical checkups. Make sure syou goes to your doctor to be checked out, as you may need HRT, vitamins, etc.

Then look at how you’re managing your day – you’re probably not, the day is running you. Find ways to slow down – do you need to delegate some work? Do you need a cleaner? Do you need to ask for help? You do not need to be a martyr. Do you need to say NO? Are you putting her energy into the right things?

All these questions and many more will help you to prioritise and streamline your day.

This basically means you’ll feel more in control and lighter, which is what you need with all your symptoms. This will ripple out to other areas of her life.

Will the menopause ruin your life? Then time to get your life sorted

The menopause stage is the perfect time to get other things in your life sorted, as your tolerance levels are too low to deal with BS. This time we look at habits/people/thoughts that are draining. Declutter inside and out. Maybe it’s time to let go of some relationships and thoughts that no longer serve you. Maybe you need to let go of doing everything for everyone. Maybe you need to start saying no and start saying yes to yourself. Maybe you don’t want to be the rescuer, giver anymore. Maybe you don’t want to follow the rules anymore and live your life your way. This time is like a new chapter beginning where you don’t have to conform anymore and you can be your authentic self. Menopause is the perfect catalyst to say no more, I’ve had enough and begin to live again.

Are you worried about the impact of the menopause on your life? Comment below with your thoughts or experiences and follow us on Instagram here where we’ll be keeping the conversation around the menopause going.

photo created by jcomp, wayhomestudio, benzoix, love photo created by freepik

Are PMS symptoms worse in your 40s? Hell yes!

Life at 40 is full of lovely surprises and gifts of nature. Despite the fact we should probably be grateful for the bloody monstrosity that periods are (figuratively and literally!), I can’t help being excited at the fact that in as little as ten years time, I might be free of Aunty Flo barging in and turning everything upside once a month. Well, I say once a month, but really – it feels like the best part of the month doesn’t it? So are PMS symptoms worse in your 40s….well let’s open that can of worms shall we?

A life dictated by PMS symptoms

This is how things go down in my world. From the minute I finish my period, I have ooooh a few blissfully days before – boom! it’s ovulation time again. Then if I’m lucky, I’ll have a week of no hormone dramas before the PMS dramas start to roll around again. All of this feels like it’s happening within a blink of an eye.

Recent research Yoppie, revealed that 79% of UK women lose between 1-7+ days a month due to not feeling themselves during their menstrual cycle. I wish I could say it was only that for me because damn does it feel a whole lot more!

Enter the PMS swamp monster

Now I don’t know but ever since I started edging towards my 40s my PMS symptoms definitely started feeling worse. I was never one to want to crawl into bed like an old granny a week before I came on the rag. Now I regularly turn into Stig of The Dump’s sister. For those of you who don’t remember who Stig of The Dump was, he was a caveman out of a classic children’s novel (showing my age baby!). I become more and more like a cavewoman as my PMS becomes worse and worse.

Stay away from the boobs!

Please god, do NOT touch my breasts the week before. I last knew pain like this in my breasts when they were heaving with new milk as a new mother. Then there is the crippling fatigue that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a combine harvester thousand times over. And not to mention the dark mood and frenzied anxiety which makes you feel as mad as a March hare. Hateful doesn’t even cut it. I become a seething bag of self-loathing and misanthropy, hunting down any chance to throw hypothetical daggers at anyone who so much as looks at me the wrong way. Cross at your own peril!

PMS brain drain

My PMS screws everything up – my ability to think, talk, hold things without dropping them. My ability to avoid injury and a subsequent visit to A&E because I am always walking into/falling over or smashing my head on things. I literally feel like I’ve had a frontal labotomy.

At least one of the benefits of this whole royal Covid mess we are still stuck in is that we get to stay at home and lick our wounds as much as we like.

What gives then?

Lucky us! Reason being for this increased PMS calamity is because PMS symptoms get worse when you reach perimenopause, the five- to 10-year stretch before menopause actually hits. (The average age when women enter menopause is 51.) Generally speaking, whatever symptoms you’ve already been having will likely be ramped up. Ahhh…the gift that keeps giving!

So now that we all know we are going to feel even more hellish with PMS symptoms in our 40s, what can we do about it? Here are some things I’ve started to do which have been helping me to keep a lid on the maniac within in the run-up to the Lady Business.

My – and your – PMS toolkit

Agnus Castus

Take Vitex agnus-castus, a herb that is used for conditions related to the menstrual cycle such as breast pain (mastalgia), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and more severe PMS symptoms (premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. It’s an acquired taste but worth getting your tastebuds used to it if you don’t want to unleash your wrath on the universe every month. I absolutely swear by this!

Evening Primrose Oil or Starflower Oil Capsules

Although Evening Primrose have always been the PMS favourite in terms of reducing PMS symptoms – especially breast tenderness – some camps believe that Starflower Oil capsules are more effective. I just say take whatever you can get your hands on!

Menstruation Tea

I have only just discovered this wonderful premenstrual support tea from Hottea Mama and praise the lord I did! I swear as soon as I drank a cup of this all my boob ache vanished into the ether. It’s a really comforting brew of select herbs have been used traditionally for millennia to help women soothe cramps, reduce bloating, regulate hormones, improve sleep and regulate periods and now a firm favourite of mine. Buy it here.

Eating right

Step away from Uber Eats right now! As much as you’d like to dive right into a bucket of KFC and drown your sorrows in copious tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and vino, your PMS will not thank you for it! Yeah yeah preach baby I know. Instead, our friends at Natural Nutritional Health recommend the following:

  • Blood sugar is very important in supporting hormone balance. Keep insulin levels stable by eating 3 meals per day and include protein with every meal to ensure slow release of glucose from food. Reduce sugary foods and replace white carbs with wholegrains to help prevent mood swings.
  • Studies have shown that women with plant-based diets high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs have fewer symptoms of PMS. These foods provide a multitude of nutrients (Vitamin E, zinc as well as those below) and antioxidants, aim for 5-7 portions of veg and fruit per day.
  • The above foods also provide fibre which supports gut health and bind to excess oestrogen, carrying it out of the body which helps balance hormones and lessen PMS.
  • Limit salt and replace with spices. Sodium can worsen PMS symptoms due to its role in fluid retention, which leads to bloating and swelling.
  • Drink more water (and less alcohol and caffeine!) – oestrogen and progesterone influence your body’s hydration levels so during PMS when hormones are erratic, increase water intake to help to ensure you are hydrated, this also reduces bloating.
  • Include calcium foods in your diet, such as dairy, salmon, broccoli, sardines, kale, sunflower, sesame seeds and tofu. Studies show eating calcium containing foods, alongside vitamin D (which plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium), lowered the risk for developing PMS by as much as 40 percent. From Oct- March, it is recommended to supplement with vitamin D.
  • Magnesium keeps electrolytes in balance, without enough, you retain water. Magnesium also supports anxiety and insomnia. You can find it in leafy greens, nuts, legumes, bananas, as well as dark chocolate!
  • B vitamins especially B6 regulate hormonal activity and reduces PMS, think turkey, pistachios, beef, tuna, avocado, chicken, sunflower and sesame seeds. The combination of B6 and magnesium is a real winner for PMS support e.g., avocados!
  • Omega 3 fatty acids may help with the mental health effects of PMS and are found in salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts) they also have an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing pain and cramping.
  • Go organic where possible not only with your food but also cosmetics and make-up to reduce your exposure to harmful, oestrogen-like chemicals which disrupt hormones.

N.B. Sometimes therapeutic amounts of the above nutrients may need to be achieved with additional supplementation which can be discussed with a registered nutritionist.

Exercise

I know, I know, big fat eye roll here. You would rather drink a cup of sick than do some exercise when you’re feeling all gross and blobby but you need to fight this one out lady! So go on, peel yourself off the sofa as slowly as necessary and try to do some light cardio if you can –  walking, running (ok it might just be a very slow jog!), biking, and swimming are all good. Pilates and yoga also help. Low-volume strength training is also a good choice (especially if you’re feeling extra angry) – but just don’t go all Hulk Hogan on me (as if!) because lifting too heavy a weight puts pressure on your core and could worsen cramps.

Have your PMS symptoms got worse since you hit 40? Let it all out in a comment below my sister!

Picture credit: Photo by Sora Shimazaki & Anna Tarazevich from Pexels