The Truth About the Menopause by Liz Earle15/10/2019, Liz Earle
The wellness expert and author Liz Earle gives us an insight into her experience with going through the menopause and the use of HRT.
What effects can the menopause have and at what age can it occur?
The average age of the menopause in the UK is fifty-one and the perimenopause (the time of transition to the menopause) usually starts from our mid-forties onwards.
There are literally dozens of symptoms associated with the perimenopause and menopause.
The long list includes itchy skin, weight gain, hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disruption, depression, anxiety, water retention, poor memory, brain fog, change of body shape, dry eyes and aching joints.
Are there any unexpected symptoms that more women should be aware of?
Unexpected symptoms include intolerance to alcohol/caffeine, tinnitus and gum disease.
What were your expectations of the menopause before it happened to you - how did you imagine yourself being?
Like most women, I had no real concept of what the menopause would be like until I started to consider my own personal journey and I found it baffling that there was so little information available to me and the millions of others who were at a similar stage of life. Advice was muddled, contradictory and very often failed to explain what was happening which was what prompted me to write first The Good Menopause Guide and now my follow up e-book The Truth about the Menopause.
Are there aspects of perimenopause that we are inclined to overlook, thinking it’s just life? What should women look out for?
Many of us who enter the menopause at average age find ourselves in the sandwich generation, running busy lives, raising teenage children and looking out for elderly parents whilst also working. We may not realise amidst all this juggling that we are in the midst of the perimenopause. Female friends in their forties are amazed and surprised when I say that their sleeplessness, tiredness and low mood are most likely caused by shifting hormones. Particular symptoms to look out for, as well as the physical ones, include loss of confidence, anxiety and feeling tearful at the slightest upset.
What were your views on HRT and why did you decide to take it yourself?
For the vast majority of women, HRT is both a safe and highly effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. As far as I’m concerned, HRT is simply topping up what my body is naturally lacking as I age and I thrive on it with better sleep and increased energy levels. There are few (if any) cancer risks associated with taking HRT and some proven cancer protective benefits (such as lower rate of colon cancer). Other acknowledged health benefits include a much lower risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
That’s not to say all women need to take HRT or all are suited to it. It’s important that you discuss your own personal needs with your GP or specialist doctor, which will take into account family health history, underlying conditions and lifestyle.
What should we be eating during the perimenopause and menopause?
My top tips and special ingredients for the perimenopause and menopause include phyto-oestrogens, which provide oestrogen-like compounds that occur naturally in the plant kingdom. Phyto-oestrogens can help ease many menopausal symptoms and I’d highly recommend a high in phyto-oestrogen diet to anyone at this stage in their life. However, it’s important to keep in mind that around a third of all women do not convert phyto-estrogens into the estrogens required here, in which case eating foods like linseeds, soya and others high in phyto-estrogens will not help. Also, you do need to eat a consistently large amount, every day, which may not suit you
What are your thoughts on this time of a woman's life?
The vast majority of us will live for thirty to forty years after the menopause. So, my advice is to see this time of life as a good moment to take stock and begin to appreciate who we have become and what we may still achieve and do – or even change! It’s all about how to have a better second half of life – and I do believe the second half can be even better than the first.
Personally, I feel there is much more to do and achieve with Liz Earle Wellbeing. We’re growing really fast (unusual for a magazine in print these days) and I’m truly excited to be able to spread such good news for all mid-life women.
About The Author
Liz Earle MBE is the UK’s leading wellbeing entrepreneur, TV presenter and the number one bestselling author of over 35 books on a range of health, beauty and wellbeing topics, including her latest bestsellers The Good Menopause Guide and The Good Gut Guide. A global brand pioneer, Liz co-founded (but is no longer connected to) the multi-award-winning Liz Earle Beauty Co., before moving on to launch Liz Earle Wellbeing. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine (published internationally by Hearst and hosts the popular Wellness with Liz Earle podcast show. Her new e-Book The Truth about the Menopause is available for £4.99 from her website.
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