If you are a woman of a certain age you will know that the menopause is about so much more than just hot flushes, irrational behaviour and uncomfortable sex.
Pink, plump vaginas, pelvic floor exercises and how to do the perfect “Jimmy Choo” poo (ie with heels on) were among many of the hot topics covered by experts speaking at the Positive Pause hosted event at the weekend. No stone was left unturned in the quest to debunk the myths surrounding the menopause and I for one left informed, inspired and as my husband commented on my return - more chilled. A result indeed!
The value of proper information and guidance during the menopause and beyond cannot be underestimated and that is what Jo and Ann delivered in spades at their recent event with their line-up of expert speakers.
Each one shared their many years of experience and knowledge gained at the real coalface of women’s health, to help all the ladies in the room understand one thing - that the menopause is not something to be feared or at worst ignored. Rather the over-riding message was to embrace it, to ensure that each and every woman whether approaching or already in this midlife stage, emerges at the end in better health, not least because we are all living for longer.
Life is full of personal journeys and the menopausal one is no exception to the rule. But, no one experience is the same and there is without doubt no one size fits all solution.
There is, however, one common denominator to the menopause and that is the inevitable loss of oestrogen and its consequences cannot be underestimated, as the fabulous Dr Karen Morton explained so perfectly.
The decline of oestrogen is responsible for the most common of menopausal symptoms, namely hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness.
It is as Christien of the White Hart Clinic said quite simply “the water to your garden.”
The burning question of course is how to replace it?
HRT has had a bad press over the years but it is without doubt the most obvious answer to many women’s peri and menopausal nightmares, as well as to many of the subsequent health threats that its decline presents. Heart disease being at the top.
It is of course not for everyone but forewarned is forearmed and there is no doubt that all the ladies in attendance left sure of one thing - of the importance of oestrogen in women’s health; the real life impact of its decline and the options available to replace it or at the very least counteract it.
The value of exercise in menopause was emphasised repeatedly. Often seen as the second half of life filled with opportunities and new challenges there is no denying the concomitant loss of muscle mass associated with this second stage and quite simply, ageing.
The advice again was clear - don’t lose too much, counteract the inevitable with strength training and high impact exercise to ensure you don’t become frail.
The pelvic floor is responsible for supporting many of our main internal organs. Urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse are real problems for many, exacerbated by the menopause and can be prevented with a strong pelvic floor.
This is a subject close to my heart, if only because, I was lucky that because I have had a lifetime of paying attention to my exercises, the impact of my surgery for gynaecological cancer and thus the potential for these scenarios was reduced. The exercises are quick and simple to do, but the challenge, as with all exercise, is doing it regularly and not overdoing it - but do it you must!
I first met Jo and Ann shortly after my surgery, having found their site by chance whilst recuperating. There are a multitude of websites dedicated to the menopause but what I love about theirs is that they are normal women in the second stage of their life really trying to make a difference with the normal women on the street and to point them in the right direction of good advice. This was my first attendance at one of their events and it didn’t disappoint. Three cheers ladies!
Editor’s Note: This review has been written as a result of my own personal wish to share the value of such a wonderfully curated event by Positive Pause and my own passion for discussing all that really matters in midlife - not least the menopause.
Join Positive Pause at their next event on Saturday 11th May - The PositivePause Feelgood Fair.
In the meantime if you are interested in finding out more about women's health please do check out these ladies in the know:
Christien Bird - The White Hart Clinic
Dr Karen Morton - Dr Morton’s - Managing The Menopause