Here’s some more ‘stuff’…

World Menopause Day is held every year on the 18th October. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the menopause and the support options available for improving health and wellbeing. Unfortunately that was the day I was stressed at Addenbrooke’s Hospital having my ultrasound scan, and the importance of the day passed me by. In fact I didn’t even know it had been World Menopause Day until I listened to Radio 2 this afternoon when driving home from work.

I was lucky enough to start work at the hospital at the age of 44, young enough not to have started the menopause, and to work around lots of women older than myself. At a hospital no subject is taboo in the tea room or canteen, and I was interested to discover whether these women had preferred to take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or sail through the menopause without HRT as nature had intended.

Over a long period of time I made friends with these women and carried out my surveys. At the same time a pain medicine consultant I worked for was making her own survey regarding all her male patients who were taking long term opioid pain medication and suffering from hot flushes and mood swings.

What I found out in my survey stood me well as I went through my own menopause. These older ladies, many of them in fact, had taken HRT to combat hot flushes, depression, sleeplessness lack of libido, and mood swings. The HRT had helped enormously, but when they had tried to come off it (the GPs only recommend taking it for 5 years due to the risk of breast cancer) their menopausal symptoms returned and were significantly worse than before they took the HRT. Several of them went back on it again, and a few on long-term HRT went on to develop breast cancer. Therefore the conclusion of my surveys was that HRT does not stop menopausal symptoms, it only delays them and the symptoms return with a vengeance when HRT is stopped.

When it was my turn I decided not to take HRT. In my opinion you are going against nature and the risks of ovarian or breast cancer if you are on HRT are too high. In fact after a few years when my hot flushes had ceased I found I felt more ‘normal’ than before the menopause. Gone was the horrendous PMT and all its associated symptoms. I was rather glad I had endured and not given in to the temptation of HRT.

The consultant I worked for had an interesting result to her survey as well. She found most of the male patients on long-term opioid medication had reduced testosterone levels and suffered similar symptoms of the female menopause; hot flushes, sleeplessness, depression, lack of libido and mood swings. Her conclusion was that low hormone levels in males and females cause very similar menopausal symptoms. When men get low testosterone levels, the body tries to kick-start production again just as it does in women with low oestrogen levels.

So men… don’t laugh at our menopause, because it can happen to you if you have low testosterone levels!

Kudos to employer James Timpson who employs Menopause Support Workers to help his workforce. Perhaps he understands that menopause is not just a female condition.