Talking the M word .. how prepared are you?

by COLETTE PIENAAR

 

Hormonal bliss, regular periods, the ability to get pregnant and have a child, glowing skin, healthy hair and nails, slim body that functions .. the absolute antithesis of what it feels like as women experience a decline to the dreaded M-word, yes I'm talking about menopause.

There is still a reluctance to talk openly about this stage of life and many younger women choose to ignore the reality that it comes around to all of us. For me was about facing the end of my ability to procreate, the fear of feeling invisible and no longer as feminine or attractive, my body changing shape and life as I knew it coming to an end .. the biggest questions for me had to be .. where do we go from here? Is there life after reaching menopause? Will I still look and feel sexy? Can I still have a lovely figure? 

The answer is a resounding .. Hell YES!

This as an opportunity to reinvent and rediscover ourselves. Review where our life is headed and make any necessary changes in order to achieve our goals. 

But the first thing to get to grips with when heading into this stage, for any woman over the age of 40, is to prepare yourself for what to expect. Many women experience the first signs of hormonal decline when they start skipping their period, some experience unexplained weight gain especially a thickening around the middle, some an intolerance to certain foods, some heart palpitations, some hot flushes. Some experience none and others experience them all. We all have a very unique journey.

If you are unsure about how far along you are, the best thing to do is head to your GP or go and see a gynaecologist and talk through all your symptoms. Seeing a specialist was one of the best things I did. Not only did I have a much better idea of what was happening to me, I felt relieved I wasn't going crazy.

For the first time, in a long time, I felt understood and that there was light at the end of the tunnel and my life wasn't over, in fact, a new chapter was just beginning. I came away from her office with a bag full of hormones and in 2 weeks I felt like a completely different person. Well worth getting checked out and choosing the path that is right for you.

Now the most common complaint I have come across is weight gain .. a thickening of the abdomen. I have experienced this, and it feels like the weight comes from nowhere. The truth is that our bodies change and our hormonal responses to food change too. The meals we were enjoying just don't seem to be tolerated any more. 

Have you noticed cravings for things, a lack of tolerance to alcohol, hot sweats when you eat sugary foods? Well, these are just a few of the symptoms I experienced and saw a change in my body as a result. 

I wish I had been better prepared for what I have had to overcome. It still feels like an uphill struggle. Coming to terms with the physical and mental changes that come with this stage of life are challenging so it really is worth educating yourself and talking about things. 

So you are 30 something and think that menopause doesn't apply to you or it's something you will deal with when you are older .. please carry on reading. The transition to menopause can start earlier than you think .. and more often than not it catches us by surprise. 

Even if you think menopause is a long way off for you, the more you know now the better equipped you will be when you go through this life stage, there is no escape, with that said there are things that can be done to minimise the impact so keep reading.

What is menopause?  It's when you haven't had a period for 12 months and you no longer ovulate. The average age in the UK is 51. 

What is perimenopause?  This is the time leading up to menopause, usually when symptoms become more apparent and honestly, in some cases quite unbearable. This steady decline in sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone & testosterone) can last from a few months to a decade.

The question is, how do we know when we are in it?  When our hormones start to decline,  75% of us will feel the symptoms and put them down to a stressful full-on life. Perhaps even acknowledging we are getting older. Very often we don't know what to look out for. There are some obvious clues to women who menstruate every month, a sign the hormones are starting to decline is when periods become more erratic, irregular. It isn't uncommon to skip a few cycles, it could be lighter, heavier, or could stay exactly the same .. the reality is that hormones fluctuate. Imagine three rubber balls bouncing on the ground together, one up, one down, then high and low, then bottoms out. This is a good way to visualise what is happening to your hormones as they decine. They don't tail off smoothly, they tend to peak and trough and create the symptoms we feel as they do.

We have estrogen receptors all over our bodies, so when levels dip and soar they cause this rollercoaster effect throughout the body. This is why symptoms can be so wide-ranging. The main areas affected are the brain, the heart, the skin, the bowel and the bladder.

Symptoms can include memory loss, mood swings, insomnia, hot flushes, sore joints, heart palpitations, weight gain, hair loss, changes to the skin, loss of libido, cold sweats, anxiety, irritability, feeling exhausted all the time, feeling an urgency to pee. These are just a few of the most common symptoms, and yes all sound overwhelming.

It is very likely that you will get experience some if not all of these .. 75% of us do and feel the effects but there are lots of things that can be done to help - it starts with understanding what is happening with your body. 

I have always been the person who likes to be prepared so I have done lots and lots of research and found a way that I believe has stopped my hormonal weight gain in its tracks, this is directly related to Mastering my Metabolism and understanding how it functions, what I can do to boost it and how to take care of my body as I go through these changes.

The best thing to do is to reach out to me and fill in my form, let's see how I can help you take care of things.

Colette X  

 

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