When you’re facing hot flushes and terribly itchy skin, what works? Rowena, 56, a health and wellbeing coach and mentor, shares what she tried…
Menopause for me is about focusing on the three As: assessing, adapting and accepting. Essentially, I explore what I’m feeling, physically and emotionally.
I’ve found that menopause symptoms can be so subtle that at first, you don’t quite realise what’s going on. I have asked myself many times, ‘is this something to do with menopause?’ Being aware of how I’m feeling helps me to make sense of everything and answer my own question.
It doesn’t mean that I can no longer do things”
Acceptance though is something that happens in small steps. It’s about looking forward to the freedom that menopause can bring. It’s now something that is part of my life that I can accept and embrace rather than endure.
It’s realising that it doesn’t mean that I can no longer do things. More, I can do different things that I wouldn’t have had the time or finances to do earlier in my life.
How to deal with menopause symptoms
I was so hot it felt like I could melt a polar icecap”
This last year, despite diet, exercise and all other good things, my hot flushes became unbearable. As did my itchy skin. I’ve lost count of the nights when I was so hot it felt like I could melt a polar icecap. And as for the itchy skin, there were times when only an antihistamine would help.
I recently sought the help of a women’s health specialist, who has been incredible. Oh, the relief! I was able to talk about my symptoms without rushing through everything.
She confirmed some of my itching is due to an autoimmune skin condition, Lichen Sclerosus. It’s a condition that can occur before or at menopause and is manageable.
I’ve also been able to discuss my best options for managing hot flushes, fatigue and brain fog. Six months on and life is a whole lot more enjoyable.
My biggest hurdle
I’ve had to work hard to schedule self-time”
Regularly scheduling self-care is something I work on with my clients regularly and yet, I have been woefully inept at putting myself first. I’ve had to work hard to schedule self-time in and not feel obliged to help everyone else first. I do appreciate by making that effort how much better I feel.
I entered my perimenopause phase and menopause feeling prepared. But for me and my network of friends, each one of us has experienced at least one symptom that we didn’t expect. Increased anxiety, itchy skin, brain fog and fatigue being the most prevalent.
Relief that works
I’m physically and emotionally more comfortable”
After trying and continuing a largely plant-based diet, putting in place a regular exercise and self-care routine, I knew that with the symptoms I was having it was likely I would need additional treatment.
At the start of my menopause, I hadn’t gone down the route of HRT as there is a history of breast cancer in my family. However, a proper assessment and consideration of the risks enabled me to make an informed choice. In the summer, I was started on Oestrogel and Ovestin cream.
These two treatments have made such a difference, as did the support I received from my women’s health specialist. I’m physically and emotionally more comfortable, I have more energy and the vile brain fog has cleared.
Read more about the HRT debate.
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Learning from other women
It must have been a challenge managing a teenager and menopause”
My first experience of menopause was as my mother began her menopause journey as I hit my teenage years. From being positive, outgoing and resilient she became tearful, anxious and moody. I can now relate – it must have been a challenge managing a teenager and menopause at the same time.
At the time, HRT was in its infancy but she was given the opportunity to try it and her natural ebullience and energy returned. She lived an energetic life for many more years.
When something’s not right
Never ignore or underestimate the power of education and self-care to empower you to thrive and flourish through every stage of your life.
Knowing your own body, what feels right and when to question if something feels off is vital. Great self-care means you are going into menopause in a physically and emotionally fit state.
Educating yourself means you will know what signs and symptoms to look out for. When you’re empowered like this you help yourself and loved ones. After all, they are often on the journey with you.
Menopause and skin conditions
It’s incredible how far we have come with understanding menopause, but there is still so much more to understand. Personally, I now want to understand more about the effect of menopause on autoimmune health and skin conditions.
This longitudinal study followed 347 women between the ages of 40-50 for a year. The scientists found that the experience of menopause symptoms was worsened when women had higher perceived stress and a more negative attitude towards ageing. This finding held against a host of biological and social factors that influence menopause.