Tonight’s BBC documentary The Truth About The Menopause worked with different groups of perimenopausal women to find ways of managing the symptoms, especially hot flushes.
I was part of the CBT group and we completed a project over the summer in addition to the filmed session and two phone sessions with Dr Mel Smith who was running our sessions.
The effects of focusing on my hot flushes, night sweats and sleep, as well as using my breathing throughout the day have made a life-changing difference to my peri-menopause symptoms.
Attempting to take some control in this way, also means I have focused on more walking and exercise, as well as a healthier diet, which has also had an affect.
I barely have night sweats anymore and only one or two hot flushes most days. As part of this project I also discovered that some women experience shivers as well as/instead of hot flushes and this is all about the body’s inability to regulate temperature as our hormones levels shift. Just having this knowledge has made it easier to accept what I experience.
During filming there was a bit of pressure to justify why I wasn’t on HRT – despite being part a group of women who wanted a more natural approach. I don’t have an issue with HRT but I would prefer to try natural methods first before taking medication and if the symptoms became completely unmanageable, it would be a no-brainer.
If an unhealthy lifestyle makes the symptoms worse, then that needs fixing. If using my breathing to be more relaxed and stress-free; moving to be fitter and to be less anxious; eating better to lose weight and to be healthier; and being keen to slow down and have a greater sense of wellbeing makes a difference then that is where my efforts lie.
The thing with the perimenopause is that it can sometimes be difficult to work out whether the low mood, anxiety, brain fog, lack of motivation and insomnia is just me or true symptoms. It has been a tough year and at times I have felt exhausted, ill and mad but in a hormonal/age way rather than anything else.
I have changed my working week so I work less hours, I give myself the opportunity to take it easy and to rest when I need to and I have learned to make endless notes and lists to manage the brain-fog and to encourage motivation. It is was a brilliant opportunity to be part of this CBT group , I learnt a lot about me and managing some of my perimenopause symptoms, which have improved significantly and I am much kinder to myself now.
Janine – 46 and no longer a hot & sweaty mess!