From hot flushes to headaches and vaginal dryness, the physical symptoms of menopause are perhaps the most well-known. However, the emotional impact is still relatively undiscussed, despite many emerging studies into the adverse effects the menopause can have on confidence and also the extent to which women feel the psychological aspects are overlooked.
Research has found that 20 per cent of women felt they no longer felt like the person they were before they experienced menopause, and nearly one-third of women in a study said the impact of the menopause was underrated. More than one in ten said that menopause made them less confident, with hot flushes, weight gain, a feeling of isolation and loss of libido, particularly to blame. And because we’re not talking about the mental impact of menopause, so many women could be missing out on crucial support.
The psychological symptoms of the menopause
The emotional effects of menopause can be wide-ranging from anxiety and depression to brain fog, memory loss, loss of self-confidence and low self-esteem. Menopause can have a debilitating impact on women’s day-to-day lives. And as it’s not thought of as an illness or mental health condition, the symptoms are often not treated as seriously as they should be.
Those who do visit a GP to discuss these psychological symptoms are often misdiagnosed and prescribed anti-depressants because menopause and perimenopause training isn’t a large component of general medical training. Poor menopause care is a global health problem which needs to be addressed.
Defined as the final years of a woman’s reproductive life, perimenopause is marked by lowering oestrogen levels, a hormone that plays a multitude of roles. As well as building and repairing bones and being responsible for cardiovascular function, oestrogen increases serotonin – the feel-good hormone – and also affects our skin. As levels dwindle and ovaries stop releasing eggs, the effects on a woman’s physical and mental wellbeing are huge. The average UK woman hits menopause at 51, so when debilitating symptoms arrive a decade or more earlier, many are clueless that hormones are to blame and soldier on without seeking medical attention.
Depression and anxiety rates rise significantly in menopause, with over 50 per cent of women experiencing anxiety and more than 35 per cent developing depression. While depression is probably linked to the fall in oestrogen, causing a depletion in serotonin, anxiety may also be linked to a dip in progesterone. It’s very important that a doctor recognises the differences between menopause mood changes and clinical depression, as the treatments of these conditions are entirely different.
What drove me to train in BHRT was that many of my patients are perimenopausal. They seek me out for aesthetic treatments because they hope that by looking more look their old selves, they will feel more like themselves again. They’re often very upset about their appearance and by life in general and are experiencing the psychological effects of menopause. But by treating them, I felt I was only treating half the person and half their issues.
BHRT is slightly different to the more common HRT treatments and is only available privately rather than on the NHS. BHRT is a customised hormone regime that is tailor-made for each patient to optimise overall wellbeing, restore imbalances and improve their quality of life. Unlike traditional HRT, it has been compounded especially for you. I call it optimisation. Is having no oestradiol normal for a 54-year-old woman? Yes. Is it optimal? No. And not only will bringing your hormones back into balance help you feel better emotionally and look better physically but there are also many well-recognised longterm health benefits for heart health and maintaining bone density.
If you’d like to find out more about BHRT and how it can help you, click here to book a consultation.