Reclaiming your body and mind during the menopause.

December 16 2019


Words by

Rebekah Brown


Posted

16/12/2019

This summer we asked 50 women to share their stories of menopause transition. Experiences vary significantly - which is why finding the tools and solutions can feel so challenging. It is also why it can make women feel very alone.

One thing that does seem common for all of us, is a changing relationship with our bodies:

‘My body isn’t mine anymore’.

(Source: MPowder Community Survey, Summer 2019)

65% of the women we spoke to described ‘extreme despair’ at the impact that the menopause had on their relationship with their bodies. 

63% women reported unexplained weight gain. And an equal number cited irritability as the symptom that had the most significant impact on quality of life;

‘My tension and anger has affected my relationship with my partner. I have struggled to maintain normality at work…I generally feel unsupported by the health service and annoyed that the realisation that women need support is only just happening now’.

(Source: MPowder Community Survey, Summer 2019)

Much of the despair felt can be attributed to widespread lack of knowledge around what to expect. A woeful lack of education in schools (which in turn means a lack of awareness in society) and inadequate training for medical professionals make identifying ‘why’ you are feeling different hard, and finding support and solutions harder. Media stereotypes and our collective obsession with youth doesn’t help either. Without cohesive support, positive narratives and role models to reference, it can feel like the end of life as we know it;

‘It has taken my life from me. My fertility. My mind. My looks’.

(Source: MPowder Community Survey, Summer 2019)

We saw the greatest sense of loss and bereavement amongst women who are now post-menopausal. Women who didn’t have access to online forums, surgery symptom posters, workplace training or social media platforms - which, for all their documented pitfalls - can provide a global sense of community and support. Women who had been taught to ‘listen to the experts’ - so didn’t question the poorly informed GP. Women who had learnt that success in the workplace meant leaving anything ‘female’ at the door before entering each day. 

But women are coming together to change ‘the change’. 

This year the UK has seen more media coverage of the menopause than ever before. The subject has been debated in the House of Commons. Medical professionals have worked hard to correct media misrepresentations of clinical studies (particularly around the risks associated with HRT). Celebrities have used their influence to demand discussion and - slowly - our collective understanding of this life-stage is shifting. And we’re learning more about what actually makes a difference by talking to each other. Here is where to start:

Find a doctor that listens. You can do much to ease your own transition, but it is critical that you share symptoms (both mental and physical) with your doctor at this phase of life too. @menopause_doctor and @dianedanzebrink are great places to go on Instagram for guidance on managing consultations and ensuring you get the right support. But the bottom line is, if you feel belittled or ignored, get a new doctor. 

Assess how you eat. Food can significantly impact on your menopause transition and your long-term health. From the age of 43 you should start to feed your body consciously for this next phase of life. Look at the minerals and vitamins that can deplete and find ways of incorporating them, ideally as whole foods, into your daily diet. And accept that what you eat may need to change. Look to prioritise your intake of vitamin A, C, K, the B vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, iron and folate. Make sure you’re getting enough Omega 3 and protein. 

(note: our next post will share our favourite whole food additions across each phase of the menopause - so you can assess the ones that pack the biggest nutritional punch!).

Create new habits. Make time to establish new habits and behaviours. Our survey revealed that yoga and weight-bearing exercise deliver real benefits mentally and physically. 27% of our respondents also stressed the benefit of taking a few minutes each day for guided meditation. 

And talk!: With each other online, with your friends IRL, with your partners and colleagues - with us.


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