I recently watched the BBC documentary ‘An Insider’s Guide to the Menopause’. I thought I would share my thoughts about it.
I thought that the documentary was extremely well presented, and was a great overview of the different symptoms and stories that menopausal and perimenopausal women can experience and the way they can be left feeling. I am in the privileged position of hearing these stories on a regular basis and understand how devastating it can be to suddenly be thrown in to mood swings, hot flushes, poor sleep and low libido. To all of a sudden lose your confidence and not know who you are anymore. I am glad that this is at last being talked about publicly and I hope it will help take away some of the stigma of this process that all women go through.
I felt the documentary was well balanced about the benefits of taking hormone replacement therapy and emphasizing individualized treatments. It was also great that they talked about the importance of lifestyle, such as weight management, nutrition, exercise and psychological interventions like CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy). This is something I look at with my patients, as well as supplementation. My job is often part doctor, part life coach, part therapist and part nutritionist and lifestyle coach – and I love it!
The reason I spend a lot of my time working with menopausal women is because I feel that women are really valuable members of society. A woman in her 50’s is probably more valuable than a woman in her 20’s, due to her life experience and wisdom. Yet society continues to judge women mainly on their looks and weight in a way that doesn’t seem to happen to men. We need to break down the barriers around menopause and stop seeing women as ‘washed up’ as they age.
I will never forget a powerful woman in her 50’s who works in the City of London in Finance telling me about having to give a big presentation in front of her colleagues and feeling the sweat drip down her face and going red as she had a flush, and seeing her male colleagues in their 20’s sniggering at her. Hearing about this degrading and humiliating experience from a brilliant and bright woman who is being judged by her age and hormonal state made me vow to help as many strong, powerful, wise women as possible to not have similar experiences.
Some women feel they have to just suffer at this time of life, or see taking hormones as a failure. Studies are now showing taking hormones at the start of the menopause benefit a woman not only in terms of symptoms, but in terms of cardiovascular health, bone density and neurological health. Hormones should not be feared, but you do need to see an expert who understands all the evidence and can help you weigh up the pros and cons.
This BBC show went a long way to help break down these barriers, to show women help is out there and to help women understand that they don’t have to suffer in silence.