21 Mar What can help your menopause symptoms? Dr Unnati Desai explains
It’s stories like these that make you realise menopause symptoms can make life a living hell for some women. This is the story of Jane Lewis, the author of Me and My Menopausal Vagina:
“Hello, I’m Jane and I’m 52 years old. I live with my husband of 34 years, have three grown up daughters, a granddaughter, and two dogs: Bertie and Bonnie. I used to live a really active life but then something changed.
I’m not quite sure the exact moment when things went so drastically downhill, but I do remember one day being at the cinema and suddenly realising that I couldn’t sit down. After only 20 minutes, I took myself to the back of the theatre and stood alone, swaying from side to side trying to calm the burning from my vulva and vagina. I haven’t been able to sit through a film since.
For seven years I’ve been suffering from vaginal atrophy and have tried pretty much everything out there to try to help me. I learnt so much from it that I decided to write a book [My Menopausal Vagina] to share my experiences so you don’t ever feel as alone as I did.“
Well, Jane is certainly not alone. I see many patients in Jane’s situation and the plethora of comments on pages dedicated to menopause on social media only reinforce just how difficult this process can be. On those posts many women say they can’t find the information they need or get the support that need from their GP. Many also complain that they are only offered anti-depressants instead of HRT, as recommended in the NICE guidelines.
It’s true HRT still gets bad press. This has been the case since the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative first raised fears about a possible link to breast cancer. But it has since been widely recognised that the risk is much lower than previously thought and that the benefits of HRT may outweigh them when it comes to protection of the bones, heart and brain.
That’s why the UK guidelines recommend that the majority of women should be offered HRT as a first line treatment, unless there is a history breast, o;