Menopause

Time waits for no man or woman! This month, August, see’s 4 years of HRT gone! I just don’t know where the time has disappeared. Is it really that long ago I blogged about going onto HRT? https://www.tracybeautychick.com/im-going-through-changes/ I must say, it is the best thing I ever did. Reflection is great and I don’t wish to go back to where I was, but now I find myself worrying about trying to stay on HRT. The doctors don’t seem happy to prescribe it and I feel I have to justify myself every year to stay on it!

Menopause

I recently received an email that I thought on this fourth anniversary I would share with you.

Email – from a Man about Menopause!

What is the Menopause?

It’s something only women of a certain age get isn’t it?  Don’t they just end up with hot flushes and get a bit short tempered? Why do some of them make such a big deal about it? If they are all hot and bothered, why not wear loose clothing or keep a fan on or something? Come on, we all get hot and bothered during the summer or when on holiday, so how hard can it be?

Does any of the above sound familiar? I’m guessing I’m not alone with these thoughts!

I just took it for granted that my wife would one day go through the menopause because most women do. Right? Wrong! ALL women go through the menopause, except for those who have had their ovaries removed before puberty. The differences are that not all women have the same symptoms. Some have no noticeable signs of anything different, whilst others go through a version of living hell! More on this later.

So why did I start to find out about the menopause?

Simples! I made the mistake of seeing my wife go through the early stages and thinking to myself “she’s a strong woman, so this will be a doddle for her.” Wrong! It never once occurred to me that she would become depressed.  I mean, it’s only a little hot flush. Isn’t it? We (men) know absolutely zero, nothing, nada, zilch, the square root of eff all, about women and the menopause. And why? Because it is something that we are not brought up to talk about. That’s a woman’s problem, so no need for us to get involved. Once the realization hit home as to how ignorant I was I decided I owed it to her (and all women) to find out what it is all about. And you know what? The truth and realization took me by surprise. I consider myself to be well educated but in some areas, I am a complete ignoramus.

I initially started looking into what could alleviate the symptoms, things like: black cohosh, flaxseed, calcium, red clover, etc. Other than flaxseed, my wife didn’t appear to be using anything else, although I knew she was getting HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) medication from her doctor. But I decided I needed to know more, so took it back to what I knew. That women only get the menopause after their periods stop. Right? Wrong again! The symptoms can start months or even years before their periods stop, and this is known as the perimenopause.

menopause
menopause

So what is the menopause then? This is something that occurs once a woman stops producing the hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) that cause her menstrual period and has gone without a period for 12 months in a row.

Okay, so now I know that there is a perimenopause and a menopause. Is that it? Nope! Turns out there is a third stage – postmenopause. Most people in post menopause will feel lingering symptoms from menopause, although usually less intense. In some cases, the symptoms will disappear entirely. A woman will remain in the postmenopausal phase for the rest of her life. So, we now know that there are three stages to menopause, but what are the symptoms? Let’s start with:

Stage 1

Perimenopause. This is the time when hormones start to decline and a womans periods become erratic and irregular. They may start to experience side effects of menopause, such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness.

Stage 2

Menopause. This occurs once a woman stops producing the hormones that cause her menstrual cycle (oestrogen and progesterone in case you weren’t paying attention earlier!). Symptoms vary from person to person, but the main ones are: irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flushes, chills, night sweats, sleep problems, depression, weight gain mood changes, slow metabolism, thinning hair, dry skin, lack of sex drive, headaches and migraines, irritability, urinary incontinence.

Stage 3

Post menopause. Once a woman has gone a full 12 months without a period she is considered to be postmenopausal and will remain so for the rest of her life. The symptoms she experienced during menopause may become milder or go away completely. However, some people continue to experience menopausal symptoms for a decade or longer. People in postmenopause are also at an increased risk of health conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

Pretty scary, eh? Are we all still thinking that menopause is just about hot flushes? I thought not! So what can we (men) do to help? Easy. Read this, take it all in, and be more understanding and considerate to the one you love. Don’t let her go through this alone – be there for her.

Man rinsing his face with water

Spoiler Alert

Men can get it too! WTF?? Yep, it’s true guys. Male menopause is a condition that affects older men. It carries a set of symptoms that are linked to declining testosterone levels and aging. It is referred to as andropause, androgen decline, low testosterone, and hypogonadism. Hypo what? Did I just make that word up? No, it’s a real condition that occurs when sex glands called gonads (and I, the guy who thinks he’s smart and educated thought that the word gonad was just a slang term for testicle!) produce little, if any, sex hormones, leading to a low sex drive or libido. It is also sometimes referred to as gonad deficiency. So, what is it and what are the symptoms? Basically, there are two glands in your brain, the hypothalamus and pituitary, that send signals to your sex glands, telling your body to make sex hormones. When you have hypogonadism, something within your brain or sex glands interferes with hormone production. The symptoms can include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, enlarged breasts (yes, moobs! Or gynecomastia to give it it’s correct medical term), infertility and muscle loss. And, just to be at one with the girls, further symptoms can be anxiety, depression, osteoporosis and relationship problems.

Still think that menopause is just about hot flushes?

I hope you like it.

Let me know how you are doing or any thoughts you wish to share about HRT and the menopause.

Tracy x

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