Dispelling the myths about menopause and HRT
Menopause is ignored, rarely discussed, and often misunderstood. Women need to be able to access accurate information helping them to make decisions about safe reliable treatment.
Myth: Menopause only happens to women over 50
“One in 100 women go through the menopause under the age of 40, (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency) and one in 1,000 under the age of 30,
If a woman goes more than six months without her natural period, and she’s not using contraception, she should seek medical advice. Women who go through an early menopause and do not receive appropriate treatment may have long-term health issues such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Myth: You need a blood test to diagnose menopause
Women between the age of 45-55 with symptoms of menopause do not need a blood test to be offered treatment. In fact, sometimes blood tests can be misleading because of the natural variation in circulating hormone levels
Myth: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is not safe
All medication carries some risks. The risk women most worry about with HRT is breast cancer. The NICE guidelines confirm that HRT can be associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer, when used long term. The population rate of breast cancer in women aged 50-59 years is 23 per 1000 if HRT Is not used.
- The extra risk is estimated to be around 5 extra cases per 1000.
- Two units of alcohol per night increase the risk by an extra 5 and smoking by an extra 3.
- Being overweight with a body mass index of 30 or more increases it by 23.
- Exercise reduces it by 7.
Women with a family history of breast cancer may still be safe to take it but need a full risk assessment with their GP/ menopause specialist.
Most women benefit from taking HRT if they need it. There may be some side effects but they usually settle, and if not, the way the HRT is delivered or the dose may need adjusting.
Myth: HRT simply postpones the menopause
The way HRT works is to mask menopause symptoms. The menopause continues in the background, but you’re not aware of it because the HRT is controlling symptoms and making you feel better.
Myth: You can’t start HRT until your periods have stopped
For some women the symptoms start in the peri menopause when they are still having periods and it can be perfectly alright to take HRT then. Its ok to take it when you are still having periods.
Written by Teresa Davison, a Nurse Practitioner who is a British Menopause Society Registered Specialist. She established the Somerset Menopause Clinic opened in May 2019 to help women through menopause.
Teresa has a passion for helping women through what can be a difficult journey and to help them to understand what is happening to them, how it might affect them, and what they can do to feel better.
The most important thing is to recognise symptoms and to understand treatment options. Women should see their GP or health professional for help and advice and not to suffer in silence.
Teresa says; Menopause is not an ending, it’s the beginning of a new part of a woman’s life. It is time for her to look at what she has done and what she would like to do and be. Time to adopt change and think about herself and the best way to optimise her health.
Embrace the change!
SOMERSET MENOPAUSE CLINIC https://www.somersetmenopauseclinic.com