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The Menopause: A Survivors’ Guide

Colin Dang

The Menopause: A Survivors’ Guide


Okay, so ‘survivors’ is putting it strongly. No-one is suggesting the multiple symptoms of the menopause, or the perimenopause, are likely to prove fatal. But it can be a disability and women suffer different symptoms at varying levels. At the more extreme they will have a profound effect on the lives of sufferers and those around them. If that is you, then read on.

Who would be a woman? Once one curse finally tails off, what psychologists call the ‘second curse’ kicks in. Yup, goodbye menstruation, hello menopause. Gee, thanks, nature!

So, what is the menopause, why does it happen, how does it feel and, crucially, is there anything those on the wrong end of what is a simple thing that feels incredibly complex can do to alleviate their suffering?

First things first

Let us look at the chronology of this process. First up is menstruation, known as periods. These can start from the age of twelve and if this includes you, then skip to the next bit. But if it does not, read on. If you have a teenage girl in your life, and you’re looking to pass on sound advice, then the NHS can help.

The rather clunky word ‘menstruation’ derives from the Latin mensis, or month, and the lunar rather than calendar span. It is the phase of the menstrual cycle, every 28 days or so, when a woman bleeds from her vagina for between three and eight days, with the heaviest bleeding in the first two days. There is a lot more to it than this, and the effects on mood and appetite can be extreme, but that is the most obvious symptom.

Next up….

The menopause happens in later life as hormone levels drop and periods cease while the perimenopause lives in the overlap space between the end of the menstrual cycle and the start of the menopause. Helpfully, have created a primer on this very subject.

Nature is not exact, and the menopause won’t always stick to the schedule. Health events such as an oophorectomy, hysterectomy, chemotherapy  or even simple genetics can move the needle in terms of when the menopause kicks off. Whatever the trigger, it is quite the ride.


The symptoms of both the perimenopause and menopause itself can be broadly listed in two categories, namely mental and physical. The NHS get into the detail here, but for the former the effects are low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem, along with memory problems and ‘brain fogs’. The UK charity have a more detailed list right here.

Physical problems include the well-known, such as hot flushes, sleep issues, heart palpitations, headaches and migraines, muscle aches, joint pains, vaginal dryness, and pain, or itching or discomfort during sex. Less well known but equally unpleasant are changes in body shape and weight, dry and itchy skin, and recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). It is quite the list. You will need help.

Menstruation information

As is the case with most health issues, knowledge is power. Reliable information supports better decisions, and there is plenty out there. A good example is, and their ‘6 things to know about the menopause’ is both a useful resource in itself and a launchpad for further investigation. The NHS is, of course, the mothership for this material and as they suggest, if you think that you are now in the menstruation gang, then contact your GP. It is what they are there for.


Just because it is inevitable, at least for most, that does not mean there is nothing you can do to help yourself. Briefly, the options include hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, testosterone gel, specialist supplements, and non-hormone medicines such as Clonidine and Gabapentin that help alleviate the more extreme symptoms. And if the effects are more mental than physical, CBT can really hit the spot. Our online pharmacy offers a number of supplements, and we are always happy to advise.

Wrapping up

The key is to remember that, like periods, menopause symptoms may be challenging and can occasionally feel too much; but it is a well-enough understood problem and help is out there. Make sure to reach out if you need it.


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