Blogmas Day 4: An Alternative Menopause Experiment

Please note that this is not a scientific article. It is merely an explanation of how I personally intend to deal with my symptoms of the menopause, based upon my discussions with my G.P. I would not advise anyone to follow the same course without speaking to their G.P.

My husband drives my daughter to school every day. It’s about a half-hour journey but sometimes it can take twice as long or even, depending on the M1, several hours. He tells me that these moments they spend together are amongst his happiest times as a parent. My daughter loves to talk, and she tells him everything during their journeys from what she is currently revising, which teachers she likes, who she finds infuriating at school and the music artists she is currently into. They spend hours listening to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and their special Grange Hill cast album.  A few weeks ago, he told me an amusing discussion they had. My daughter started it. “How long is this menopause business meant to last?” My husband replied that he knew it went on for quite a long time. “Tell me about it!” she replied. It appears that my daughter and her friends all have Mums of a similar age and they are tired of living in houses that are always cold because their Mums are permanently boiling, along with having mums who constantly forget things, especially in mid-flow of conversation and mums who are too tired or too hot do anything. “This menopause is really getting on our nerves.” She finished.

photography of stones
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This may appear quite a frivolous story but there is much in it that is the truth.  This menopause does appear to be dragging on – in my case it has been about twelve years so far – and it really is getting on my nerves. I always think that pain is quite a tangible experience to live with. You can take medication, you can relax and you can somehow learn to deal with the pain. I’ve had really extreme pain at times and much as it is not something that is easy, then at least you know what the cause is, and you can work on resolving the issue. The trouble with the menopause is that it is not the pain, the bleeding or even some physical changes that are the greatest issue. No, the greatest issue is that much is hormone related and as such it is the unpredictability of emotion and reaction that causes the most upset.

When I was writing my book, I kept trying to complete my acknowledgement section. It took me about twenty times to finish because the tone of the language – thanking people for their kindness – was enough to send me into a blathering wreck, crying my eyes out with emotion.

I have bought myself a huge black notebook. In it I write immense details of everything I need to accomplish in a day. I can no longer rely on my short-term memory since I forget pretty much everything unless it is written down. I have lists everywhere and a huge whiteboard in the kitchen to remind me what we are eating for dinner. I’ve had to change my wardrobe. I can no longer wear viscose or anything that isn’t 100% cotton. I will put something on and within seconds I am itching, and my skin becomes red and inflamed. Some days my eyes are so dry and sore that I cannot wear make-up. The heat means that my hair refuses to straighten and insists on curling up.  I have days where I am so down and lethargic that I can barely get myself dressed. The most minor thing can send me angry. Recently, Clinique messed up my online order three times and it was enough to send me into a rage: something I have barely experienced before. There are more symptoms which are far worse, but they are far too ghastly to discuss. I hate this menopause, but I hate my inability to cope with it even more.

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There are various reasons why I can not take some HRT. I have extreme sensitivity to most medication, which unfortunately has become more sensitive with my age. Some medication makes me feel permanently drugged and almost drunk and others give me nausea and sickness. My mother had breast cancer and recently I discovered, when chatting to my G.P, that the risk of breast cancer from taking HRT is far greater than has previously been believed. It doesn’t help being overweight either. It all appears to be doom and gloom. Yet surely in our modern age there must be an alternative? There must be a way to rise from these depths of despair and get through this. I’ve coped with a lot of things life has thrown at me. Surely, I can cope with this?

Something that I am good at is research. Over the past week, I have researched the menopause. I have read as much as I can based upon people’s experiences and medical research. I must state that I am not a doctor and I do not have any medical knowledge whatsoever. I would not advise anyone to change any part of their lifestyle without consulting a doctor first. However, I do believe that it is important to read widely on a topic to gain a better understanding. This research is for me alone. I did find some interesting research, which made me conclude something rather different in how I am going to approach the menopause. I have discussed this with my GP.

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The menopause affects Japanese women far less than their Western counterparts. A medical study from 1998 of over twelve hundred Japanese women between the ages of 45-55, found out that they experience far fewer difficulties with menopause in particular with regard to such symptoms as hot flashes and night sweats. This was a significant difference with something like 12% for Japanese women and 85% for Westerners. The study also stated that Japanese women also experience much lower incidences of heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast cancer. In addition, there are some studies which suggest that different cultural attitudes towards the aging process also have a role to play in this.

Estrogen or oestrogen is the female sex hormone that has many roles in the body, from controlling puberty to strengthening bones. Having too much or too little oestrogen can cause a range of different medical conditions. Phytoestrogens are plant derived xenoestrogen and have been shown to have what is termed as both estrogenic and antiestrogenic effects. This means that, some phytoestrogens have estrogen-like effects and increase estrogen levels in your body, others block its effects and decrease estrogen levels.

A study from the Queensland University of Technology discovered that women who changed to a Japanese diet rich in calcium and soya derived phytoestrogens, who also walked and carried out strength exercises experienced after twelve weeks a lessening of their symptoms. Foods which contain phytoestrogens include; Soybeans and soy products, linseed, sesame seeds and oats.

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I must admit that I am not a fan of soya. I enjoy seeds in salads, and I love the taste of oats, but I cannot stomach the taste of soya. Fortunately, there is an alternative available. Genistein is a phytoestrogen which is known to have positive effects on hot flushes and is worth considering as a therapeutic alternative in the management of menopausal symptoms. Several medical studies also found that genistein had helped many women. So, I decided to look for a really good genistein supplement and give it a try. I am not merely adding a supplement into my diet. I fully intend to eat healthily, avoid salt, fat and sugar and finally give up my addiction to Maltesers.

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As much as I hate being hot, I need to consider how to manage my mood swings. It’s a constant source of worry that I may just over react to something. As someone who writes and teaches, I also need to try and clear this brain fog that has started to develop. I can be speaking about a topic and then suddenly lose my thread entirely.

This time my research led me to read up further on CBD oil.

Firstly, it is important to stress that CBD oil is legal, and although it is derived from cannabis, you can buy it in many health shops. It is termed a cannabidiol and it does not create a ‘high’ effect or any form of intoxication. The cannabidiol which causes the high is known as THC. There are increasing numbers of reports in the press that CBD can greatly help with anxiety, depression, stress, and other conditions. Most UK sellers are careful not to claim any specific medical benefits for the products because there is still a lack of clinical evidence, so they are instead labelled as food supplements. It is, however, imperative to research the quality of products available as many are not as beneficial as they claim to be and do not have as high a percentage of CBD as they claim. As an article claimed in The Guardian in July this year the CBD industry needs more regulation.

I am going to give my alternate menopause twelve weeks to see if it helps and I shall report back at the end of February 2020. This is certainly no scientific experiment. However, the situation has become so difficult for me and I am in such a quandary, that I am now at the stage where I am determined to give anything a go and as my Latin teacher used to say, “audentis Fortuna iuvat” – Fortune favours the bold!

woman sitting on mountain
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WHILST YOU ARE HERE

I set up this blog to showcase my writing. You will never find paid-for editorials or affiliated links on this page. I do not wish to make money from my blog and I do not wish to receive any money from the people who read my blog. If you see the hash tag #honestreview then I have bought something with my own money and I am reviewing it honestly.

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Elisabeth.

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