What you need to know about HRT.
We are going to be upfront about this. A lot of us (NOT ALL OF US…) here in Kirwan’s Pharmacy are of that menopausal age, so needless to say, it’s a fairly hot topic conversation (never mind the hot flushes!)
So we decided to do a little research into the subject and share our findings with you.
Firstly a bit of background:
The menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 to 55, with 1 in 100 women experiencing it before the age of 40.
Secondly, if you hit the menopause when you are over 50, you can still run the risk of becoming pregnant for about a year after your last period. If you are under 50, it’s two years/
Thirdly, there are 34 symptoms attributable to the menopause. So here it goes! Irregular Periods
-Decreased sex drive
Tingling sensations in the hands and feet
-Difficulty in concentrating
-Changes in body odor
-Irregular heart beat
And of course, the infamous HOT FLUSHES. Phew!
(For a more detailed explanation on how these symptoms are caused by a drop in oestrogen levels, go to www.ukmeds.co.uk)
We are listing these symptoms, not to frighten anyone, but to give you the heads up. Many women will suffer on with one or many of these symptoms and have themselves convinced that they are simply going mad. A recent survey showed that 37& of women do not discuss the menopause stating that they are too embarrassed. Anxiety, depression, memory loss and difficulty in concentration catch a lot of women out with nearly ¼ of us considering leaving our jobs because we fear that we are heading for dementia and unable to cope. It’s just all down to a hormone imbalance. Those of us who suffer from P.M.T (pre-menstrual tension) can identify readily with a change in hormone levels can cause. Ask those who live with you!?!
SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Firstly, TALK, talking is good. Share your experiences with your girlfriends, your daughters, and your aunts. Knowing that you are in good company in the menopausal ‘boat’, eases the burden. Those ‘other women’ may not be doing as well as they look!
Secondly- SERIOUSLY CONSIDER H.R.T if you feel that your quality of life is not what it should be.
Many studies on H.R.T (Hormone Replacement Therapy) have been published over the past 15 years, citing breast cancer and coronary artery disease as concerns making doctors and women reluctant to use it. But recent evidence suggests that the risks of H.R.T, using the newer products in the market are small and usually outweighed by the benefits (all 34 of them!)
The older H.R.T’s that gave such cause for concern were manufactured using horses urine (we hope you are not reading this at meal time!) Some of them are still on the market, one such being Premarin, short for pregnant mares urine!
The newer H.R.T’s are manufactured from plant producs and contain what they call bio-identical hormonals, which have the same chemical structure as the hormones produced in our bodies and therefore causing much fewer side effects (and keeping the vegans happy!)
It is now accepted that H.R.T using these bio-identical hormones actually improve a women’s cardiovascular health, improve cholesterol levels, treat osteoporosis and have a much reduced effect on the incidence of breast cancer. In factm by drinking two units of alcohol per day, or by being overweight, you are at four-times the risk of developing breast cancer compared to HRT.
Another breakthrough in H.R.T has been the development of the transdermal patch as a method of delivering HRT into the body. These patches release oestrogen at a constant rate through the skin and can be used for women who suffer from migraines, or who have a history of strokes in their families, H.R.T has previously been ruled out for women with such medical histories.
Patches also work better for women who find tablets nauseating or who smoke (but stop that right now) or who are overweight.
H.R.T will knock most of those 34 symptoms for six! Goodbye to hot flushes and brain fog.
And, as to the hot flushes (great name for a girl band?!) there are other treatments to consider if H.R.T is not for you!
Venlafaxine, a very common used anti-depressant, used in low dose of 37.5mg twice a day has been found to be effective against hot flushes.
Oxybutynin, used for incontinence, can also be used. In fact, looking back at the 3 symptoms, you will see that you might kill several birds with the one stone!
All of these therapies are prescription only. So, make that appointment and discuss them with your G.P. if you feel that your G.P is not the person that you want to discuss this with, try The Menopause Hub. This is a Dublin based practise with doctors who specialise in menopausal matters and you can have a consultation by phone if necessary. They can also give you advice on all the lifestyle changes you can make to ease your symptoms.
1.Make sure to get enough calcium and Vitamin D in your diet for both bone and immune health. Vitamin D is really only found in oily fish or dairy products fortified with Vitamin D and its main source is the action of sunshine on your skin. So in the autumn and winter months take 10mg of Vitamin D to supplement your intake, suggestion Vitabiotics Osteocare.
2.Exercise- Especially weight bearing exercise, walking and running. Make it an absolute priority every day.
3.Get enough sleep, 7-8 hours required.
4.Have regular girls nights out…or in! It’s good to talk.
5.Relax- try meditation. Yoga- you will find plenty of classes in both and on the internet.
6.Look after your shine. Falling oestrogen levels cause collagen production in the shine to slow and have come the sags and wrinkles. Oestrogen is about also responsible for the production of ceramides and hyaluronic acid in the skin and these keep the skin hydrated. Find a good skin cream with those in it to substitute. Suggestion- CeraVe Skincare.