The following is posted on behalf of an anonymous member of the School community.
Considering it affects all our colleagues with ovaries (and their families too), I wanted to share a few pointers about peri-menopause.
I was ignorant. Very ignorant.
- I thought menopause happens around age 60. In fact, the average is 51.
- But most women will suffer symptoms from age 41-45, many already at 38-40.
- I thought the symptoms would be the popular “hot flushes”. But those arrive years later (or not at all), the first symptoms could be pain in your joints, shortness of breath, dry eyes or dozens of others (some of us thought we had long covid…)
- I thought doctors would prescribe hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) for it, in many cases.
- However, many doctors have no training in it, there is a shortage of HRT, and some will tell you that “most women will pass through menopause without medical help”.
- That’s accurate; not because medical support is not important, but because HRT was not prescribed much in the past…
- You may have to ask around to find a doctor who can inform you about HRT.
- If you and your doctor decide for it, it’s free with the NHS.
- I thought menopause was just a few weeks of hot flushes, and then ageing continues as usual.
- Instead, perimenopause can last from a year to 12 years (about 4 or 5 years seems to be common).
- While the symptoms are bad enough, the worst might come after ten or twenty years, particularly if hormonal replacement therapy is not used.
- It can set the stage for osteoporosis (and hence bone fractures), bladder infections, incontinence and even a higher risk of some diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
- It can be particularly stressful for people with a history of mental health problems, possibly contributing to a peak in suicides in women around 50-54.
- But at the same time, hormonal replacement therapy is associated with an increase in breast cancer and stroke risk, depending on family history. The hammer and the anvil. Welcome to middle age.
- As usual, read the statistics carefully and rely on medical sources (NHS, EU EMA, reviews from The Lancet) and medical professionals, but well-written books can provide a useful introduction.
- I would recommend reading at least one book by a doctor having ovaries and peri or post-menopausal.
- I thought that if the symptoms were so bad, surely friends would have told me about it, but it’s not a jolly topic to discuss. And there is a lot of stigma. Ask around politely, and people may be kind enough to share.
- Also, women from your mother’s generation may not have been informed enough to connect the dots with all the symptoms that appear sometimes years after their periods stop.
- I thought one could wait to see if the symptoms go away, and if not, use hormonal replacement therapy, but there is a window of opportunity in peri-menopause to start it, so do inform yourself in advance.
Hope you will find this information useful now or in the future. Please note that any medical treatment (or herbal extracts containing human-analogue hormones) incurs risks that you will have to evaluate in consultation with your medical practitioners.