Health expert and author Maisie Hill taught us what we should all know about menopause.
Although it affects half the population at some point, many of us know very little about menopause. Maisie Hill wants to change that with her book "Perimenopause Power". It contains a lot of information about the supposedly taboo topic and is a must-read for every woman - regardless of what phase of life she is in.
According to Hill, many of us dismiss menopause as "something that will happen to us in our fifties." But knowledge is known to be power, and understanding what is going on in your own body pays off at the latest when perimenopause (the preliminary stage of menopause) begins. "In the UK, women go through menopause at the average age of 51. It is sometimes referred to as second puberty," said Hill. Second puberty? One more reason to deal with it more intensively.
"Menopause is the first anniversary of your last period," explains Hill. "Let's say you are 50 and have your last menstrual period, after twelve months you can say that your menopause occurred that day." The time up to this one day is called perimenopause. This phase is accompanied by the typical symptoms - from hot flashes to vaginal dryness. "It must have been twelve months without a period, otherwise it's not menopause." Perimenopause begins in the woman's 40s, but slight (barely noticeable) hormonal changes that initiate the process also take place in the mid to late thirties.
Perimenopause often begins without us even realizing it. "Often the production of progesterone is shut down first, which shortens the cycle and can lead to reduced fertility, spotting, and insomnia," explains Hill. "And since estrogen and progesterone are two hormones on the same seesaw, estrogen goes up when progesterone goes down." A higher level of estrogen can manifest itself in anger, irritability, gas, breast tenderness, and brain fog. They can also suffer from joint pain, vaginal dryness, poor concentration, forgetfulness, and other changes in cognition and mood. Most symptoms do not appear until the end of perimenopause when the period stops forever.
Because the symptoms of perimenopause are so diverse, it is often not recognized as such. Hill says many of her clients report having panic attacks out of nowhere, being thought depressed, or diagnosed with a heart problem when in fact it is hormonal changes. "In my book, I tell of a woman whose family doctor prescribed antidepressants instead of hormone replacement therapy. Ultimately, she asked for it. But she had no treatment for six years, suffered from severe symptoms, including intrusive thoughts, when only she really was Estrogen needed, "said Hill. She advises familiarizing yourself with the NICE guidelines so that you know what to ask for and what treatment options are available. "Another thing that a lot of women are told is that it's not menopause because they're still on their periods," says Hill. "It's just a misunderstanding of what menopause is all about."
"A lot of people turn down hormone replacement therapy, and it's a lot safer than we'd be led to believe. There have been scary headlines for 20 years that said it doubles the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study, on The headlines referring to, was done over 20 years ago and was flawed. It used participants who should never have been included in a research study because they did not conform to today's classification of what is considered healthy, "says Hill, die also indicates that the data were interpreted incorrectly. This study continues to influence not only the opinion of women but also of doctors.
Hill says not every woman needs hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but perimenopause is a good opportunity to do so. "In the scientific literature, it is referred to as a time when we can have a lasting impact on our future. In addition, HRT not only helps to relieve symptoms in the here and now, but it can also treat diseases such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cardiovascular problems prevent, "she says. Nowadays the body uses endogenous hormones that are identical to the hormones we naturally produce - interestingly, they are also made from sweet potatoes. Whether as a pill or gel, Hill points out that HRT can make a huge difference in the quality of life, both when it is used and in the future.
Many women are downright afraid of perimenopause - also because their mothers may always complain about it - but it can also be a positive time and a decisive moment in life. "The point of the menstrual cycle is to have sex and beget another person, whether you do it or not. So estrogen makes us interested in other people, and more social and accommodating," says Hill. "When it's gone, we don't care so much what other people think - and that's a great gift." She says it is amazing to watch her clients blossom as they begin to put themselves first and forego pleasing others in order to do what they want when they want it.