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What Really IS the Truth About The Menopause?

Dec 01, 2018

Did you manage to catch the BBC documentary that was shown earlier this week called The Truth About The Menopause”?

[It’s currently still available on BBC iPlayer if you want to watch]

This film featured broadcaster and journalist Mariella Frostrup and was billed as a candid and intimate film which aimed to break the huge taboo that surrounds the menopause.

So as you can imagine, as a women’s health expert who specialises in the peri-menopause and menopause, I was pretty excited to watch it.

Surely any opportunity to share more about what the menopause actually is and how we can help ease this time of transition would be a good one?

Actually, I was wrong. Very wrong.

Today I’d like to explain why I was so disappointed with its portrayal of the menopause and what the truth about the menopause actually is. (Clue= it’s not some fad treatment or trendy new drug!)

#1: It’s not just about oestrogen and progesterone

I get so sick and tired of women being told that the menopause is just about declining oestrogen and progesterone levels. If only it were that simple, we could all just waltz into our GP’s surgery, demand a hormone top-up and go off on our merry way.

But of course we don’t, because it’s not that simple.

Yes, I do understand why they make it sound so simple like this. They’re likely to be trying to simplify a complex system in the body so that women of varying backgrounds and education levels might understand. I understand that.

But simplifying it in this way is doing women such a massive disservice.

Hormones, and specifically the endocrine system are far more complex than that.

Besides, our hormones aren’t just about our fertility status: whether we’re still having periods of whether we can get pregnant.

Our hormones are there to help us buffer stress, protect our immune system, keep our bones strong, protect our heart, keep our brains healthy, help our digestion, promote restful sleep and so on.

It’s not just about ‘fixing’ one or two hormones. Nor is it about taking a pill to make it all stop (if only!).

It’s about understanding how our entire body works and taking steps to support our health in a holistic way.

Naturally, this approach does take more time than just popping a pill or looking for a quick-fix solution. But it does get to the root cause of your menopause symptoms instead of simply sticking a band-aid over the problem and unlike many other treatments, it actually works.

#2: It’s not just about hot sweats

Hot sweats (aka hot flushes, night sweats, hot flashes…) are one of the most stereotypical symptoms of the menopause.

So the BBC dedicated a good chunk of the programme to discussing this symptom and how scientists have developed a brand new drug that works in a part of the brain to stop hot sweats from happening.

Yes, it’s true to say that this new drug could provide a great deal of relief to many women, but I feel like it really misses the point.

Firstly, hot sweats are one of the easiest symptoms to address naturally.

You simply need to focus on the whole body, the liver, digestion, nutrient absorption and stress management, and you can get some fantastic results. Many of my clients have either drastically reduced or completely eliminated their symptoms after a few months of working with me.

Secondly, when you pop a pill, you’re not getting to the root cause. You’re simply trying to conceal the changes happening within your body when you should really be listening to them as your body’s way of communicating its needs with you.

Hot flushes are a tell-tale sign of an imbalance within the body, and we need to address this imbalance instead of ignore it.

#3: HRT is risky

Yes, they did talk about the risks of HRT during the programme.

But I feel like they still aren’t explaining just how bad these risks could be.

If you are unlucky enough to have a particular genetic snip, you could be at an increased risk of developing an oestrogen-dependent cancer anyway, and you wouldn’t necessarily know about it until it’s too late.

Even if you do as the presenter does and have a yearly mammogram because you’re taking HRT, you’re still exposing yourself to unnecessary health risks as well as living in fear that they might actually find something scary one day.

Another problem with HRT is that when they prescribe it, they don’t explain the factors that could increase your chances of developing cancer and how you can reduce them.

There’s no warning sign to say:

  • Don’t drink
  • Watch out for that genetic snip
  • Eat folate-rich foods
  • Improve your gut health
  • Take care of your liver

It’s scary stuff.

#4: It’s not just hormones that affect your bone health

The programme also mentioned the fact that HRT can help protect your bones post-menopause and help prevent osteoporosis and fractures in later years.

This is true-HRT can provide this protection.

However, as we mentioned above, this comes at a high price and it’s not the only factor that influences the health of our bones. Things like your posture, taking medication, drinking too much coffee, drinking too much alcohol and being under high amounts of stress can all weaken your bones and increase your risk of fractures.

Work to reduce these risk factors and you can naturally strengthen your bones without needing to subject yourself to the nasty side effects of HRT.

“The Truth About The Menopause”- Final thoughts

While I think it’s good to talk about the natural transition into menopause in the media, I do think that the greater care needs to taken when they’re presenting the ‘facts’ or giving advice.

It needs to reflect what most women are struggling with and give real answers that actually help women who are experiencing symptoms of the menopause, not give a made-up version to get bigger viewing figures.

In my opinion, it was a good conversation starter but it wasn’t the truth.

What did you think?

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