Menopause Symptoms: Worsened by Stigma?
Earlier this week, BBC1 documentary The Truth About…The Menopause presented by Mariella Frostrup brought the subject of menopause to prime time TV.
This is just one of the efforts we’ve seen lately to break the taboo that still surrounds menopause across much of society.
Monday night’s programme highlighted that 13 million women in the UK are currently affected by menopause, which shows just how needless this lingering stigma is.
What’s more, could it actually be making symptoms of menopause worse? That’s one of the questions the documentary set out to answer.
Can This Stigma Make Symptoms of Menopause Worse?
There is lots of advice out there on how to minimise the risk of hot flushes, night sweats and other menopausal symptoms, from taking natural menopause supplements to watching what you eat, and keeping stress levels to a minimum often forms part of the recommendations.
But feeling stressed about experiencing a hot flush in the middle of an important presentation, getting even more flustered when you do feel yourself getting hot for fear of anyone noticing, panicking, feeling anxious and subsequently ending up even hotter can create a vicious circle of fear of stigma exacerbating symptoms and symptoms being severe.
Increased anxiety can be a symptom of menopause in itself, as can heart palpitations, but these can both be heightened if you’re needlessly attaching feelings of embarrassment and shame to the symptoms you’re experiencing.
In reality, it’s unlikely that anyone has even noticed that you’re having a hot flush, meaning you don’t need to be feeling this way at all.
Remember - you are not alone in going through the menopause and opening up to those closest to you about how you’re feeling will only make your situation easier. Talk to your partner, talk to your friends, talk to your boss - even bring up menopause with your children, and do your bit to break the taboo for the next generation. Here are some tips on how to start these important conversations.
Could CBT Help Ease Menopause Symptoms?
During the programme, Mariella oversaw an investigation that involved a group of menopausal women attending CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) sessions to try to change the way that they felt about their menopause symptoms to see if this changed the way they were affected by them.
The women were taught how to focus on their breathing when they did begin to have a hot flush in order to help them to become more mindful of how menopause symptoms were making them feel. As part of this process, they began to accept that they were indeed going through menopause and that what was happening to them was completely natural.
Subsequently, their mindsets became calmer, and ongoing CBT was eventually found to reduce the number of hot flushes they experienced by two-thirds, with the therapy also dramatically lowering their likelihood of night sweats.
Other Long-Term Options to Manage Menopause Symptoms
In our busy lives, attending regular CBT sessions isn’t always an option, and many women need a way to manage their menopause symptoms that easily fits into their routine - this is where menopause supplements can come in.
Designed to be taken daily, as part of a healthy lifestyle, natural supplements such as those in the Femarelle® range offer an alternative option for managing menopause symptoms.
In addition, exercising regularly, following a healthy, balanced diet, and talking to your loved ones about what you’re going through could all help you to navigate your way through menopause with less stress, anxiety and stigma.
With different supplements available for during your 40s, 50s and 60s, you can shop the Femarelle® collection here.
BBC1 documentary, The Truth About…The Menopause. First aired Monday 26th November, 9pm.