The latest discussions, tips and advice from the Live Better With Menopause Community forum...
The Live Better With Menopause Community is filled with real people with lived experience of the menopause: from hot flushes, to aches and pains to foggy brains. It’s a space to go to share stories, find support, and pick up hints and tips for all things menopausal, from the people who understand - other menopausal and perimenopausal women. Here’s a round-up of some of the latest forum discussions...
We all know that changes in our hormone levels mark the beginning of perimenopause – the start of a woman’s journey towards and through full menopause. But how do you know if you’re perimenopausal? Will blood tests confirm the hormonal changes that you suspect? And what should you make of it if the results are not what you expect? This was the conundrum facing Roobee45, who joined the community forum this month:
‘I am 47 and feel perimenopausal even though my blood test didn't agree! Main symptoms… are awful insomnia and anxiety. I have a job I enjoy, a wonderful husband and 3 gorgeous children yet I feel so tearful and miserable a lot of the time. I'm tired and Fed up of not feeling like myself.... good to get all that off my chest.’
Longstanding member, Kaz, sympathised:
‘I recognise all those feelings too! I sometimes used to feel as if I’d morphed into some kind of cartoon version of myself!’
But Kaz also shared Roobee 45’s frustration about the mismatch between here perimenopausal symptoms and the blood test results. Another new member, Jan71, echoed their concerns:
‘I'm also new to the site... literally joined this morning! I'm experiencing early menopausal symptoms also... had a blood test and was told hormone levels are normal. But there is definitely something going on: I experience cold sweats at night from time to time, my moods are all over the place, joint pain or actually pain anywhere in my body!’
Kaz made an important point about the unreliability of blood tests to measure hormone levels, especially for women above a certain age – GPs should be listening to women and diagnosing on the basis of symptoms, not blood tests.
‘SO frustrating to read about blood tests again! After 45, blood tests shouldn’t be used to confirm a peri/menopause diagnosis, because they’re not reliable! Hormones are all over the place - so you may very well get a result like yours, that suggests there’s nothing amiss, when you clearly know the symptoms that you’re experiencing! After 45, a diagnosis should be made, based on the symptoms you’re describing.’
Live Better With’s free 7-day course for better sleep
One of the symptoms Roobee45 was struggling with was insomnia:
‘If anyone has any advice on how to be more positive and how get a good night's sleep I would be very grateful.’
Sleep-related problems are among the most common perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms mentioned by Live Better With members but help is at hand, as our Community Admin, Blanka Csanicz, explained:
‘…we've actually created a 7-day sleep course that you might find useful. You'll find practical tips and articles, bedtime recipes, mindfulness exercises and many more in there - one for each day during the week. :) It's totally free and you can sign up here.’
You can read the full thread on perimenopause, blood test and sleep problems here.
Menopausal dry mouth – not as unusual as you might think
While lack sleep may be something that many women going through menopause experience, some of our forum members find themselves grappling with something that might seem unusual or not necessarily associated with menopause. For Liz 68 it was mouth problems:
‘…is there anyone that is suffering with this awful burning mouth syndrome, any tips would be greatly appreciated.’
But, as Blanka explained, mouth problems are more common in menopause than we might realise:
‘Menopause can indeed cause dry mouth (which is also known as xerostomia) - it's a common symptom actually! You might have a sore, dry feeling in the mouth, throat and lips, as well as feeling thirsty more frequently. However, it can also sometimes cause a burning sensation in the mouth and tongue (this is known as burning mouth syndrome).’
Blanka also had some suggestions on what can help:
‘The good news is that there are lots of things you can try to help ease the symptoms! Of course it goes without saying that staying hydrated and drinking lots of water is super important, but many women find that sucking on ice cubes or hard boiled sweets can help to soothe the burning feeling.’
Liz68’s question also provided an opportunity to mention the wealth of free information available online at Live Better With, covering many aspects of menopause, from managing symptoms to relationship difficulties. Blanka thought that Liz and other members with mouth problems might find this article, How to handle menopause dry mouth, helpful.
Read the full thread on dry mouth during menopause here.
If you are finding particular symptoms hard to deal with, it’s worth taking a look at the Live Better With Stories and info section, where you’ll find dozens of menopause articles, personal stories, and expert guides.
Ask the menopause expert: Steven Crumblehume*
Steven Crumblehulme is a qualified psychologist, reflexologist and the inventor of Menomagic, a natural, paraben-free and vegan-friendly cream with a blend of essential oils to help maintain wellbeing in the menopause. Steven offers expert advice and guidance on coping with stress and anxiety, with information on breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises and neuro-linguistic programming exercises that can help women feel more resilient during menopause. So, when Kaka2837 needed help with her very troublesome anxiety symptoms, Steven was the ideal member of our expert team to turn to:
‘I will randomly get an overwhelming feeling of anxiety run through my body that increases in intensity. This feeling can come mainly in the evening/night. I can be sitting without any feeling or thoughts of worry then it’s like a small bomb in the pit of my stomach explodes and the anxiety feeling appears and intensifies. I will then have an underlying feeling of fear for the rest of the night. I also get this very intensely wired feeling as I am falling asleep that comes from nowhere. Preventing me from sleeping and leaving me with racing heart. These episodes come out of the blue and don’t appear to have triggers or any regularity but are very unpleasant to experience. Any ideas or tips to help?’
Steven explained how and why menopausal changes in hormone levels could lead to quite severe spikes in anxiety levels:
‘I suspect that these random periods of anxiety are being triggered by physiological shifts in hormones during the menopause, which temporarily put your body into a state of fight or flight. This means that your body feels stressed, which your mind then interprets as something wrong. Whilst the physiological change won't last long, it is the perception you have that makes the feeling of anxiety persist.’
He also had some good advice for Kaka2837 and anyone who is affected in this way and recommended a simple but highly effective mindfulness breathing technique that can help create or restore a sense of calmness:
‘My overall suggestion is to see if you can acknowledge to yourself that the anxiety you feel is simply due to shifting hormones and your body is rebalancing, but may need 10-15 minutes, but that this is normal and nothing to worry about. Also, during one of these periods, you can try a couple of exercises to help take your mind of it so that once your internal state has returned to normal, your mind will also be calm. For example, you could try mindfulness, where you focus on things in the present. If you were sat on your sofa when this happened, for example, you could focus your attention to how your feet feel on the floor, then move up to how your back feels against the sofa, or how your arms feel resting on a cushion. You could also practise deep breathing to help calm the mind, such as breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 7 and then breathing out for 8. This helps to change levels of oxygen in the body and calms it right down.’
*Steven Crumblehulme is a qualified psychologist, reflexologist and the inventor of Menomagic, a natural, paraben-free and vegan-friendly cream with a blend of essential oils to help maintain wellbeing in the menopause. Steven offers expert advice and guidance on coping with stress and anxiety, with information on breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises and neuro-linguistic programming exercises that can help to you feel more resilient during menopause. Find out more about Steven and his Chelthenham –based complementary therapies practice here.
You can read the latest community forum members’ Q&A sessions with Steven Crumblehulme, including his advice for Kaka2837 here. Steven’s Menomagic is a Live Better With recommended product and our customers love it!
Find help and support, and share your story and tips – join the Live Better With Menopause community.