Healthspan News

Perimenopause: your say

Posted 2 June 2015 12:00 AM by Healthspan Editorial Team
Perimenopause Research

We discovered that over a third of women are now going into perimenopause as early as 40, which means that women are spending, on average, ten to 20 years suffering from a range of symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, depression, sore joints and a weak bladder.

“There is an education job to be done on helping women overcome the symptoms of the perimenopause as this can be a decade of anxiety and depression in the lead up to and after the menopause.”

— Dr Hilary Jones

What is perimenopause?

49 per cent of women have never heard of the perimenopause and 9 out of 10 women questioned in the Healthspan survey stated they need more information on how to treat the perimenopause and menopause. Over three fifths of women asked said they hadn’t been to see their GP about the range of symptoms they were struggling with.

Despite the amount of information available on the menopause, Dr Sarah Brewer, GP said, “I was surprised to see in the Healthspan research that nearly half of women didn’t even know what the perimenopause is and that three-fifths of women haven’t sought help from their doctor. What’s shocking is that so many women are suffering and battling through middle age without help.”

Ninety per cent of women said they would like more help with dealing with the perimenopause and menopause. Dr Brewer continues, “Interestingly, all age groups said they would rather treat their symptoms naturally, and many women are opting for positive lifestyle changes such as exercise and dietary approaches to deal with their symptoms.”

What about HRT?

The research was split 50/50 between women saying HRT is safe and not safe to use. “The debate around HRT still concerns many women,” says Dr Brewer. “Nearly three-quarters hadn’t even considered HRT, although many were choosing natural oestrogenic supplements such as soy isoflavones and Black Cohosh, along with Evening Primrose Oil, diet and exercise to help deal with their symptoms.”

The effect on mood

The research showed that the perimenopause and menopause is affecting women’s mental state of health. Dr Hilary Jones said: “The research by Healthspan showed that sixty one per cent of women are suffering with anxiety due to the symptoms of the perimenopause and that women in their fifties are especially struggling with this. Fluctuating hormones can lead to low mood and three quarters of women stated that they suffer from low mood and over a third of those surveyed have had to adjust their lives to deal with the affects that the perimenopause has on their bodies. Trouble sleeping is a big problem, which further lends itself to mood swings and irritability. Crashing fatigue is something a quarter of women said they suffer from.”

The perimenopause can also undermine the hard-won self-confidence that women have built up by their 40s and 50s, Sally Brown, psychotherapist said: “The research showed over half of the women questioned said that they had lost their self-confidence. It’s not known why hormonal upheaval should have this effect but it may be linked to the drop in oestrogen, which helps make serotonin, the feel-good chemical in the brain. What’s surprising is how many are suffering in silence - 78 per cent said they don’t discuss it even with other women.”

Loss of libido

Dr Brewer said: “The perimenopause affects most areas of women’s lives. More than one in two women say their partner would definitely be up for more sex but sadly, more than half of women asked said they have no libido anymore. Nearly a third said weight gain meant they no longer felt attractive.” Worryingly nearly three quarters of all women interviewed admitted that the perimenopause is affecting their relationships.

Dr Hilary Jones says: “There is an education job to be done on helping women overcome the symptoms of the perimenopause as this can be a decade of anxiety and depression in the lead up to and after the menopause. Don’t be afraid to go to your GP and discuss your symptoms, there is a range of both natural and conventional treatments out there to help significantly.”

Menopause: The numbers:

  • 38% of women said menopausal symptoms started at age 41 and can last up to two decades
  • 74% of women in their early forties suffer from low mood due to perimenoapuse
  • 50 – 55 year olds are the most anxious with 63% saying that is a symptom
  • 38% of women in there are making lifestyle changes to deal with the daily impact of the menopause
  • The majority of women are battling symptoms alone - 63% of women haven’t spoken to their GP about their symptoms.
  • 64% of women say their mental state is affected by the menopause
  • 9 out of 10 women would like more information  and those that did visit their GP of those 38% were recommended anti-depressants

For further information and advice on the menopause visit: Menopause Advice from Healthspan

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