Menopause can be scary and bewildering. It’s a step into the unknown; especially so if you step into it far earlier in your life than you’re meant to.
When I discovered that my body would be going through the menopause at 27, I struggled to make sense of it and what I would be facing. I was really anxious, especially because I had no real idea of what the symptoms would be like. I’d heard of them, but never quite understood how bad they could be. It was also hard to deal with the emotional side of early menopause. There are still times when I feel like an older lady trapped in a young woman’s body, but with time, I find myself slowly adjusting to it and knowing the things that I can do to help deal with some of the symptoms. So, I thought I would share some my personal top tips about menopause!
1. Seeking professional advice instead of using Dr Google
Consulting Dr Google is always so tempting, but it can cause unnecessary anxiety and worry. Early on in my treatment, I made the decision not to look up the symptoms of menopause on the internet, because I knew I would get caught up and overly focused on everything that I read. Before my operation, all I really knew about menopause were the infamous ‘hot flushes’ that the older women in my family would talk about. After my operation, I very quickly realised that it was much more than that. I started to experience many other symptoms that made me very anxious and unsure about myself. It was so helpful at that point to spend time with my specialist clinical nurse at the Marsden, talking through all of the possible symptoms, some of which I’d never even considered, such as moods swings. After having this conversation, I felt a lot calmer because I knew what to expect.
2. The power of the cold can
I find that putting a cold canned drink on the back of your neck is a really good solution to managing the hot flushes, which can often feel like a giant explosion of heat engulfing your body. They can feel like a small makeshift version of a cooling pillow (see link below) that helps with hot flushes and night sweats. For more information about cooling pillows look at:
3. The benefit of wearing a nightie
I have always loved wearing pajamas, and up until now have always opted for long trousers and top sets –the warmer the better. I never liked the idea of wearing a nightie (it just sounds so granny like!) but when my friend got me one for me to wear after surgery, I was instantly converted! It has been amazing for helping me to regulate my body temperature at night. And contrary to my former judgmental thoughts about them, I’ve discovered that there are so many different types out there. Check out the link below.
4. Thinking through outfits carefully
Due to all this menopause malarkey, I find it very hard to regulate my body temperature in the day. I lose track of how many times my jumper goes on and comes off during the day, and I find that when I’m out and about, my coat is constantly coming on and off. It can be quite annoying because sometimes only seconds after taking a layer off, I then get really cold! I have found that layering is key, and I now tend to wear thinner jumpers with a strap top underneath to help with the situation.
5. Having herbal tea before bed
I have found that a hot drink before bed really helps me to relax and worry less about potential night sweats. I really like drinking red rooibos tea. It’s a caffeine free tea that grows naturally in South Africa and is also thought to have various healing properties.
6. Holistic treatments
Since my diagnosis, I’ve tried various alternative treatments that have helped with relaxation and managing anxiety, especially menopause related anxiety. Chai Cancer Care offers lots of different treatments that I’ve found can really help with anxiety. At the moment, I have Reiki therapy, massages and reflexology. Reiki is a very spiritual healing treatment that involves a light touch on or around the body. I’ve found that it helps me to stop focusing on the thoughts that whirl around in my mind by being more in touch with my body. Massages have also helped me loads – having a massage actually increases the levels of oxytocin and serotonin in the body. Regular massage therapy also lowers your blood pressure, lowers the heart rate and improves your breathing. Finally, I have found reflexology to be really good at helping me to relax and relieve tension and stress. Reflexology is basically a system involving massage, or a degree of pressure, in certain areas of the body. It’s based on the theory that there are specific places called ‘reflex points’ on the feet, hands, and other areas that are linked to helping restore proper functioning of internal organs. Look at the links below for more information about these therapies.
After my surgery in August I immediately started experiencing the menopause night sweats. They were so intense to begin that I couldn’t sleep. I ended up having to take sleeping pills most nights. I also had to change my pajamas on a daily basis and would wake up looking like I had been swimming (my hair being would be drenched in sweat). The night sweats caused me a lot of extra anxiety, not at all helped by the fact that I wasn’t sleeping properly. My specialist nurse at the Marsden referred me for acupuncture, as there is evidence supporting this being successful in reducing night sweats.
At the moment I’m having weekly sessions of acupuncture and once these are finished, I will be taught a self-needling technique so I can continue doing it at home. I have found acupuncture to really successful – I no longer take sleeping pills, the night sweats are not at all as intense as they were and I’m able to sleep a lot better and for longer periods without waking up. Look at the links below for information about how acupuncture can help to alleviate menopausal symptoms.
I am a 27-year-old lady going through menopause. It’s a lot earlier than it should be in life, and is something takes a lot of adjusting to. It can still make me feel really strange. There are times when I’m out with people and experience hot flushes and end up feeling like I’m drenched in sweat. I can become very aware of myself in these ‘sweaty moments,’ and worry about whether they are obvious to other people around me (this probably makes me more anxious and makes the sweating worse!). However, I’m slowly starting to see that laughter can help with these feelings, so I’ve started telling people I’m out with that they are not hot flushes but instead ‘power surges!’
It seems like the positive impact of laughter where menopause is concerned is a popular idea, because there is even a play on the subject.‘Menopause The Musical’ is definitely something I want to see – I’ve included the synopsis below:
“Starring Cheryl Fergison (EastEnders), Maureen Nolan (The Nolans), Rebecca Wheatley (Casualty) and Ruth Berkeley (Penny Dreadful) Menopause the Musical is heading out on another UK wide tour. This hysterical show packed full of one-liners about night sweats, hot flushes and memory loss is backed by an instantly recognisable soundtrack of innuendo-laden versions of 60s, 70s and 80s pop classics. An all-singing, all-dancing comedy set in a department store, where four women with seemingly nothing in common, meet by chance and make fun of their woeful lives experiencing “The Change”. They soon bond as they realise that the menopause is no longer “The Silent Passage”, but an unavoidable stage in every woman’s life. The hysterical and uplifting Menopause The Musical will have you laughing, and singing, all the way home. The show has played sold out-out tours across the world so call your girlfriends and book now for the ultimate girls night out.”
The show will be in Richmond on Sunday 26th February 2017and Milton Keynes on Sunday 19th March 2017. I will definitely be booking tickets! The link below provides more information about the show and how to book tickets.
So these are just a few things that I have found help me at the moment. I hope that by talking a bit more about the menopause, it will help others who are also going through it. I also hope that it will bring about more discussion about any ideas or tips that other people have. I’m keen to hear about new ideas to help with menopause symptoms, so if you have any ideas or suggestions that you want to share, then please do mention them in the comments section on the blog!