Ageing

Susanne’s blog

I originally set up Menopause Support to pass on information and experiences I gathered through my tricky menopause. If you want my ideas, tips and products to help you with your symptoms, or if you want to know more about the latest menopause research then read my blog. I?d love to hear your feedback so please post a comment at the bottom of the page!

Menopause symptoms mask deadly ovarian cancer

28. April 2011 08:34

Are you suffering from bloating, a swollen and painful stomach, having to pee more often or finding it difficult to eat normally?  All these can be symptoms of the menopause but if you have them on a daily basis they may be the sign of something more serious – ovarian cancer.

 

This disease, often called the ‘silent killer’, is difficult to diagnose but new guidelines published yesterday from NICE are addressing this.  They suggest a simple blood test through your GP.  The test looks for the level of a protein CA125 in your blood.  Even though the test is not 100% conclusive, it’s a good first step and if found positive, will be followed up by an ultrasound examination and further specialist treatment.

 

Time is the most important factor here – if you catch the disease at the early stages, 90% of women survive after treatment.  But this survival rate declines as the disease progresses.  So if you do have any of these symptoms, on a daily basis, then please go and see your doctor and ask for this test.  As a recovering ovarian cancer mother on Woman’s Hour said yesterday.  ‘Women tend to put their bodies on the back burner and put off going to their doctor but early diagnosis is the key to successfully beating this disease.’

 

If you want to listen to the excellent Woman’s Hour interview, click on the link below – it’s the first item of the show: The program start after 30 seconds into the show

 

Woman’s Hour 10:00 Wednesday, 27th April 2011

« I confirm the subscription of this blog to the Paperblog service under the username menopausesupport ».

Finding work difficult because of your menopause?

4. April 2011 10:52

Then you’re not alone.  Female staff have told the TUC that their managers don’t recognise their problems – they speak of being criticised for menopause-related sick leave, their embarrassment at discussing the menopause with their employers, and being criticised or ridiculed by their managers on the subject.

 

The TUC has recently published new guidance on how employers and the union reps can work together to support women through the menopause at work.  The report suggests initiatives such as:

 

·         the importance of encouraging a positive workplace attitude to the menopause

·         what physical changes can be made to the working environment that will help and

·         why working time flexibility is crucial.

 

Following our successful event at the Stress Awareness Week, Marie Taylor, Organisational Development Manager, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust wrote,

 

‘Menopause Support, a contributor to our Stress Awareness Week, was very well received.  Over 50 members of staff received advice on managing the menopause and will receive further information via email.  We would like to thank Menopause Support for their support’.

 

Menopause Support is offering Menopause Awareness Training to work organisations which cover the topics above and more! 

If you know of an organisation who might be interested please contact me on heatherfairbairn@menopausesupport.org.uk

and help us to bring an end to the embarrassment, confusion and inaction around the menopause in the workplace.

 

Thank you. 

 

What is the peri-menopause?

11. February 2011 11:25

You may well ask!  Although most of us have heard of the menopause, the word ‘peri-menopause’ is not used as often. In fact, when I first heard it, I had no idea what it meant even though I have a scientific background.

 

Basically, it’s the medical term that can be simply summed up in five words: ‘The approach to the menopause.’

 

This is important, as unlike childbirth which, once started, it usually progresses fairly rapidly, the menopause can go on for many years. It can stop and then, just as you think it’s all over, it can come back as an encore.

 

The peri-menopause is the start of all this. It’s the beginning of some of the symptoms such as irregular bleeding, mood swings and tender breasts. It’s the stage where you’re not quite into the full swing of the M word but very nearly – or at least, on the cusp.

 

So how do you know if you are menopausal or perimenopausal or neither?

There may be other health reasons for your so-called menopausal symptoms which is why it’s important to see your GP to rule out anything else. Your doctor may give you a blood test to check your hormone levels. The blood tests won’t definitely say if you are menopausal but they can give an indication by testing the level of FSH in the blood: this is the Follicle stimulating Hormone which stimulates the eggs in the ovaries to ripen. As you get older and the follicles become more resistant the FSH levels, they have to rise to a higher level to try and get the follicle to produce an egg. So if the result is very high, the doctor will say you’re likely to be in your menopause, especially if you have other symptoms such as irregular periods.
 

However, in the peri-menopausal period, the FSH levels fluctuate from month to month and through the cycle, particularly if you’re still having periods. A temporary raised FSH level can also be because of stopping the oral contraceptive pill, breast feeding, severe illness, hypothyroidism, depression, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and some medicines such as Prozac.

 

It’s worth knowing that if you’re already taking hormones for a medical condition (including contraception), the blood tests are unlikely to reflect a true reading. So you might need to come off the Pill in order to see if you really are entering the menopausal stage. The tricky bit here is that you could still be fertile so even if you are peri-menopausal, you could still theoretically, get pregnant.

 

There are also certain over-the-counter medical self-testing menopause testing kits where you can check the level of FSH of your urine on a stick, as in a pregnancy test. To get the best result, take the urine test on the third to fifth day of your period and do it over successive months to get a more accurate result. This will however only be an indication that you are menopausal: you do need to have other symptoms too.

 

How much fruit and veg should I be eating?

4. February 2011 07:34

At least five and preferably eight is the result of two new research studies from Oxford University.  In the first study 300,000 people from countries across Europe were assessed and it was found that eating at least eight portions reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 22% compared with eating less than three portions.  The second study found that eating at least five portions could save 15,000 lives a year by reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke.    

 

For menopausal women this is really important as the risk of heart disease and strokes increases dramatically as your female hormones reduce as you go through the menopause.  Also by eating a wide range of plant foods including garlic, celery, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, apples, plums, cherries and rhubarb you are supporting your dropping oestrogen levels as these foods provide beneficial ‘phyto-oestrogen’ nutrients too. 

 

So how to start eating more fruit and veg?  The best way I know is to snack on fruit between meals (rather than the chocolate bars or biscuits) and at proper meal times make half your plate covered with vegetables.  You might also like to think about some vegetable based recipes.  Two of the favourites here at Menopause Support are for mushroom stroganoff and roasted red peppers.  They’re delicious! If you’d like to have these recipes just send us an email to info@menopausesupport.org.uk – enjoy!  

Fighting the invisibility of 50s+ women

12. January 2011 05:33

Congratulations to Miriam O’Reilly who has successfully won her case against the BBC for age discrimination.  The employment tribunal ruled that Miriam, 53, was dismissed because of her age (not sex) when senior BBC executives decided to overhaul BBC1 rural affairs (Countryfile) show in November 2008.

 

The exodus of older women disappearing from our TVs over the past few years has been lamentable – Moira Stuart, Anna Ford, Arlene Phillips and Selina Scott to mention a few.  It’s not surprising that so many women fear looking older and have difficulty in embracing their post menopausal life.  Women often believe that past 50 their useful lives have come to an end.  A regular comment I hear, ‘I just feel invisible these days’!  Not helped by the BBC whisking all our 50s+ role models from our screens.

 

But thanks to this case, campaigners believe times will now change with the BBC swiftly announcing ‘fair selection for presenter appointments’ as well as increased training for senior executives.  The future looks bright – let’s look forward to seeing many more gorgeously maturing women on our TVs.  

Help us to break the Menopause Taboo with the Mail on Sunday You! Magazine.

11. January 2011 06:37

 

I thought you might like to help us here at Menopause Support to ‘break the menopause taboo’ by telling your menopausal story for anonymous publication in YOU magazine from the Mail on Sunday.  

 

I’ve just been contacted by Rosanna Greenstreet who is a freelance journalist writing for the YOU magazine, the Weekend Guardian, the Sunday Times and various other magazines. She is also a published author with a weekly column for the Guardian and has also written the book – My Body My Enemy, which is about a recovered anorexic Claire Beeken.

 

She has been commissioned by YOU Magazine to write a piece about the menopause and is looking for women who have been through or are going through the menopause. The interviews will be anonymous. She would like to ask women about their symptoms. Any remedies that have helped them. How they feel about themselves. How the menopause might have changed their lives and impacted on their sex lives. What the plus sides are and how they feel once they are out the other side.  

 

She would also like to talk to someone who has been through early menopause and also a woman whose menopause was brought about by illness or an operation.

 

I am going to be interviewed today and will obviously be talking about the Menopause Support Programme!  If you feel you could do the same I know this will really help other women to know how they can get support too.

 

If you are able to help then please telephone her on 0208 892 8773 or email her rgreenstreet@btinternet.com

 

Lose your Christmas weight fast!

7. January 2011 09:55

Join us here at our free Menopause Support ‘phone-in’ next Thursday 13th January at 7.30pm to find out the latest research and ideas on how to get rid of those extra festive pounds.

I’ll be discussing why weight control is so much harder once we get into our 40s and talk about ideas and tips which women find really help keep their weight under control through this period of their lives.  I’ll be sharing the latest research on what works and what doesn’t and talk about how to use these findings in your day to day life.

The call will last 30 minutes and you will have an opportunity to ask questions.  Book your free place now, click on ‘Book Now’ on the Weight control topic talk page for the ‘0845’ number to ring next Thursday. 

Looking forward to talking with you then and in the meantime, if you’re anything like me, wear your ‘fat-day’ jeans for the next few days!

If you would like to receive a recording of this Weight Control topic talk, please email us to request a link info@menopausesupport.org.uk

Believe the future is a positive place

13. July 2010 05:40

Did anyone else see The ‘Body & Soul’ section in the Times newspaper this weekend?  If not, you missed a gem but here’s the gist – the front cover had a wonderful, glamorous picture of Diane von Furstenberg, 63, the fashion designer with the words ‘Super Sixities. Old Age? It hasn’t even started yet’

 

Inside there were several inspirational articles about women (and men) who are fully embracing life in their 60s with a positive yet realistic attitude to the ageing process.

 

Diane von Furstenberg says, ‘I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had in my life with my work.  Maybe because I’m more confident.  Maybe because I have more clarity. I have more energy than I’ve ever had.  And when you’re older, work keeps you young, it keeps you relevant.’

 

I also really identified with Lesley Garner, the 60 year old journalist,  ‘Ageing isn’t what it used to be, but it is real and we have to learn to work with it….  We shouldn’t feel guilty about concentrating on what gives us pleasure – ……..  Above all, we shouldn’t panic.  We’ve only just begun the next phase.  We could have another 40 years ahead of us.’

 

And this is exactly what we’re doing here at Menopause Support – we’ve now completed our series of spring/summer workshops, helping women make this attitude change.  Heart-felt testimonials show we’re making a difference to our clients.  One that caught my eye from Bristol recently,  ‘My doctor recommended the workshop …….I have found it transforming at a time when I very much needed that boost in confidence to believe the future is a positive place.’

 

Our autumn workshop dates can be found under the ‘Courses & Events’ section.