A Menopause GP’s Perspective
By Dr Ferhat Uddin, Menopause GP Specialist
In my journey to becoming a menopause doctor, I have come across some inspirational stories and tragic ones. I’ve seen women giving up careers or struggling in relationships and others who have beat their symptoms and thrived. Midlife is a time to celebrate achievements and accomplishments, and I love being able to help women do just this.
I didn’t think I was bad enough.
I hear this regularly, sometimes from women who have spent years struggling before seeking help. If it’s affecting your quality of life in any way, it is bad enough! From nutritional therapy to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there are many avenues of care that no matter what your symptoms are, you don’t have to suffer in silence. It’s not only hot flushes that can be troublesome; in fact, psychological symptoms such as anxiousness, mood changes, and brain fog can be the most debilitating.
Do Your Research
Before going to see your GP do your research! Unfortunately, some women are refused the treatment they need, as the menopause training GPs, and gynaecologists receive is very varied. Go in armed with information! There are great websites such as menopausedoctor.co.uk or menopausematters.co.uk to find out what is right for you. Read my blog on what you need to know before seeing your doctor on LibertyHealthClinics.com.
No One Size Fits All
What works for one woman doesn’t always work for another. For some changing their lifestyle, such as reducing alcohol or caffeine intake, combined with healthy eating, can be enough to settle their symptoms. Others find acupuncture, herbs, or yoga make a difference. For many, their symptoms will exceed the benefits of complementary therapy or lifestyle change, but HRT will give them the relief they need.
Looking at your diet and lifestyle around midlife is the cornerstone to good health and feeling great. There is a complex interplay between our gut hormones, brain hormones, sex hormones, thyroid and adrenal glands. A healthy diet, high in plant-based foods, healthy fats and proteins, and free from refined carbohydrates will keep your blood glucose levels in check and look after your gut microbiome. The association between what you eat and how you feel becomes all the more apparent in midlife.
Take time out for self-care and relaxation. Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, exercise, or simply a walk in nature will reduce your cortisol levels, which directly impact our menopausal symptoms and weight gain.
Think about the future
Midlife is a time to take stock and think about our future health. After menopause, a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack or stroke), osteoporosis (bone thinning) and dementia increase due to the fall in the protective hormone oestrogen. Eating a Mediterranean-style diet, regular weight-bearing exercise, reducing alcohol and stopping smoking are ways to reduce this risk. Starting hormone replacement therapy within ten years of the menopause has also been shown to reduce these long term risks.
Menopause At Work
Know your rights! Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of all employees. Talk to your line manager, be open about your symptoms, or ask human resources for an assessment. Small changes such as providing you with a desktop fan or making sure you’re near an opening window can make a big difference. You could ask for access to a quiet room for a break or even flexible working. According to government guidance, as long as you have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks, you have the right to request flexible working. 1 in 10 women consider giving up work due to their menopause symptoms, don’t let that be you.