With GP waiting times increasing in many practices, and appointments for non-urgent care more difficult to access, home blood testing is becoming a common alternative for many people looking to take control of their health.
We’re hearing increasing numbers of stories in the press about women’s’ struggle to access HRT – Hormone replacement therapy, to help ease the negative side effects of the menopause.
Additionally, more reporting is focusing on the importance of recognising and making reasonable adjustments in the workplace for women experiencing the menopause.
With this important spotlight being shone on the issue, we’re taking a look at menopause and why it can have such a huge impact on a woman’s wellbeing.
What is menopause?
Menopause is when you stop having periods, which usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. For some women, menopause occurs earlier, although this is far less common.
Menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing a hormone called oestrogen and no longer release eggs. For some time before this, your periods may become less regular as your oestrogen levels fall. This is called perimenopause.
What are the side effects of menopause?
Menopause affects every woman differently. For some, the symptoms can be severe and distressing, while for others, they may be much more manageable.
During menopause you might experience symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, joint and muscle pain, vaginal dryness, mood changes and a low libido.
Other natural aging changes can be intensified by menopause. You may lose some muscle strength and have a higher risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
What is recommended to help reduce menopause symptoms?
HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is the most commonly prescribed treatment to help reduce menopause symptoms. It works by replacing the oestrogen levels that naturally fall in menopause.
While HRT is a common solution, it isn’t suitable for everyone and it’s a good idea to check out alternative options, such as non-hormonal treatments, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which can help with issues of low mood and anxiety.
Is it possible to better prepare for menopause?
While the symptoms of menopause impact all women differently, there’s certainly plenty you can do to give yourself the best chance of reducing the unwanted symptoms of menopause.
Studies have shown that women suffering menopause symptoms who exercise have a far better quality of life than those who don’t. Clinical trials on women who aren’t on HRT have also proven that regular activity helps reduce severity of hot flushes, in the long term. Exercise also helps reduce stress, improve mood and sleep patterns, making it easier to cope with hormonal changes.
Watch your weight
In studies, hot flushes and night sweats, muscle and joint problems and bladder issues all worsened as women’s size increased.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce some of the most uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Try making small gradual changes to your eating patterns for a sustainable way to watch your weight.
Menopause often hits during a naturally stressful time in life, where you’re potentially juggling a career, the care of children and possibly older parents, too.
Naturally, the addition of the changes brought on by menopause can cause feelings of stress and anxiety. It’s as important to take care of your mental wellbeing as your physical health. Explore options such as CBT, meditation, yoga, sleep apps, journaling, and other natural, holistic therapies to help reduce your stress levels.
Importantly, remember that the more you do to take care of yourself, earlier, the better. Even if you’re not experiencing menopause symptoms, taking these steps to build a healthy lifestyle is like taking an insurance policy out on your future health. Every positive change you make is likely to benefit you in the future.
Measuring your menopause markers
If you’re starting to notice menopause symptoms and are wondering if you’re at the beginning of that journey, it can be helpful to take a closer look with blood testing.
Armed with the knowledge this can reveal, you can take steps to optimise your health and wellbeing by introducing the right lifestyle changes for you.
A simple home test
With GP waiting times increasing in many practices, and appointments for non-urgent care more difficult to access, private blood testing is becoming a common alternative for many people looking to take control of their health.
Our home fertility and menopause check is a simple way to assess fertility and menopausal status using the markers follicle‑stimulating hormone (FSH), Oestradiol and Testosterone.
This test is available as a finger prick or vacutainer sample collection option. You can also choose to visit a BMI Hospital, a participating Superdrug or have a nurse home visit.