Wellness guru Liz Earle is all fired up about the menopause. Hot flushes aren’t to blame, but rather the lack of information available to women and the limited training GPs receive on the subject.
“This is a scandal. When you think that throughout all of the medical school training, and I think it’s seven years minimum for GP training, they will probably do three months of obstetrics and gynaecology. Not every woman is going to have a baby. Every single woman is going to have a menopause, if she lives long enough.”
Ray touched on the fact that a man speaking to a woman about menopause, might be considered awkward by some, but as Liz pointed out, everyone who knows a middle-aged woman is likely to be effected by the menopause in some way or another. She thinks the subject is one of the last taboos.
“There’s been a deafening silence for so many years. We’ve gotten so used to talking about other things, normalising chat about pregnancy, paternity, breast feeding, mental health and all kinds of things. Menopause has been the last taboo in a way, to have a really open conversation about.”
At the heart of the matter is oestrogen. The hormone is like fuel in the tank for women, giving them energy and vitality. Oestrogen receptors all over women’s bodies from their brains to their bones suffer when levels of the hormone begin to decline. The game-changing piece of information is that this starts to happen when women hit their early 40s, long before they enter the menopause. If you’re wondering why this is such a big deal, Liz had an alarming list of symptoms associated with this hormonal decline from low mood to aching joints.
“Anxiety, panic attacks, low mode, depression. Very often the first line of treatment in a doctor’s surgery is anti-depressants and there are a staggering number of women wrongly prescribed anti-depressants when they’re peri-menopausal.”
Liz has conducted extensive research on the topic and for her hormone replacement therapy (HRT) i.e. topping up the declining oestrogen level, has been transformative. Ray alluded to an historical association between HRT and increased risk of breast cancer, one that Liz was happy to address. She highlighted that this connection originated from a study 17 years ago that has since been shown to be flawed in a number of ways.
“The main one being that the hormones used were old-fashioned hormones that were taken orally. These days the majority of HRT is trans-dermal, so it goes through the skin either from a gel or a patch. The oestrogen used in those trans-dermal patches or gels, has no link to breast cancer.”
Indeed, many women living with untreated symptoms of perimenopause have such low mood or painful joints, that they give up exercising. Unsurprisingly, this leads to a loss of fitness, which is itself a risk factor for cancer. Liz is adamant that once the oestrogen levels are rebalanced, it’s a whole different story.
“I genuinely feel fitter and stronger in my 50s than I did in my 40s. I’m just glad I discovered it before it was too late.”
You can listen to Liz’s chat in full on The Ray D’Arcy Show here.
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