How to Cope with Menopause Symptoms Part 1

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Dear Menopause: Leave Me Alone!

Introduction

This post may seem a little out of the blue if you don’t follow me on social media (and you should, why don’t you?!).

For those of you who don’t follow me elsewhere, I’ve been having Prostap injections to induce a temporary medical menopause. The hope is that these injections will stop the endometriosis symptoms I’ve been having, and it’ll hopefully delay my needing surgery.

Shockingly the first thing the registrar suggested when I had my telephone consultation was surgery, but it wouldn’t be for another year with the pandemic. I refused because I’m thinking there are people who need surgery more urgently than I do.

Prostap was always going to be my first choice of treatment but either I’ve blocked out how bad the menopause side effects were, or I had youth on my side last time I had it.

And so, this post was born. What are the best ways to cope with menopause (or faux menopause) side effects?

According to NHS UK, common symptoms of menopause are:

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • A reduced sex drive
  • Problems with memory/concentration
  • Vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes – low mood or anxiety
  • Palpitations
  • Joint stiffness/aches and pains
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Increased risk of developing other problems like osteoporosis (weak bones)

Well doesn’t all that sound absolutely delightful?!

You would think as Prostap induces faux menopause that the menopause effects wouldn’t be that bad. Think again. They are awful.

And this doesn’t consider the side effects of the Prostap 3.75mg injection itself. They’re a lot of fun too. If you want to read more about those, you can find the patient information leaflet here.

My GP warned me when I had my implant removed, that the Prostap injections could cause “a healthy appetite” so watch out for that happening. I may or may not be hangry some of the time…

In writing this post, I’ve realised that there’s something missing from the NHS lists. Breakouts. Remember all those places you used to get spots as a teenager? Well, you’ll be able to enjoy that again as an adult. I have spots on my face, spots on my breasts, and spots on my back.

No wonder reduced sex drive is a reported symptom of menopause. It’s nothing to do with the lack of hormones. It’s because we’re all so hot we don’t want to be touched, we’re sweaty, we’re spotty, we can’t sleep, and we ALWAYS have a headache.

The symptoms I’ve got coping strategies for are:

  • Hot flushes/night sweats
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Headaches
  • Constant Nausea (Prostap injection side effect)
  • Weak bones.

In this post, we’re going to look at:

  1. Vaginal Dryness
  2. Headaches
  3. Weak Bones.

Once I’d written the post, I realised that there was a lot of information and splitting it into two posts would make it easier to read. In that post I’ll be covering:

  • Hot flushes/night sweats
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Constant Nausea.

Subscribe to be notified when part two goes live.

It’s worth noting that the NHS does not recommend any complementary or alternative therapies to treat the symptoms of menopause. This is because it’s unclear how safe/effective they are, and they may interact with other medications.

If you’re worried about any interaction with your medication, contact your GP or Pharmacist.

Before I share these strategies though, I want to say if you are really struggling to cope with the symptoms of menopause, speak to your doctor. They can advise you on whether you can have Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or not. They can discuss the benefits and risks of taking HRT so you can make an informed decision about whether you take it or not.

I tried HRT with an earlier round of Prostap. The longest they advise you to have Prostap for is 24 weeks (six injections) so, for me, the trade-off is worth it. I’d rather tolerate the menopause symptoms for 24 weeks than be in pain for every single day of those weeks.

  1. Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal Dryness

This is one that you may need to have a conversation with your GP about. I’ve experienced vaginal dryness twice. The first time was in 2020 when the extended use of Provera had that fun side effect. The other time would be 2021 while using Prostap.

I can’t remember this happening the other times I’ve had Prostap. My GP sent me a list of over-the-counter vaginal moisturisers which are hormone free to try and see if they eased my symptoms. If you have endometriosis and vaginal dryness, you need to use a hormone free vaginal moisturiser.

They are:

If you’re going through the proper menopause and not just a temporary one, you can get a pessary, cream, or vaginal ring that contains oestrogen from your doctor.

Something else to consider is you may need some additional lubricant when having sex. There’s a whole market out there for you to try. There is no reason to be embarrassed if you do need some extra lubrication. A lot of people need to use lube during sex.

If it’s a medically induced menopause then you need to use non-hormonal contraceptives because you could still get pregnant.

2. Headaches

I want to preface this section by saying hormone headaches are the absolute worst. Nothing shifts them. I do have some things which can help to ease them.

a. Aculief

I adore my Aculief. I’m going to do a more detailed post about it soon. It’s a drug-free headache and migraine relief band. You place it on your hand between your thumb and forefinger and the band sits on the LI4 pressure point.

It being drug-free is the best feature.

b. Spacemasks/reusable gel mask

Another drug-free item you can use to ease headaches is a Spacemask or a reusable gel mask. I’ve used Spacemasks for a while now and not only does the heat and the scent help to clear headaches, but it can also help you fall asleep too. Each Spacemask is individually wrapped so it’s easy to pop one in your bag in case you’re struck by a headache on the go.

If you prefer a reusable option, there are lots of gel masks on the market which may also help. As they’re gel, you can choose between using them hot or cold. If you do opt to use a reusable gel mask and heat it, be careful and make sure it isn’t too hot before you apply it.

c. 4Head

My final drug-free way to ease headaches is 4Head. It’s a cutaneous stick that contains Levomenthol. The Levomenthol causes cooling or tingling sensations when you apply it to your forehead followed by a painkilling effect.

d. Over the Counter Pain Medication

Unfortunately, if the drug-free options don’t cut it then you’ll have to reach for the over-the-counter medications. If you’re on any other type of medication, double-check with the pharmacist before buying any pain relief for interaction with your current medication.

3. Weak bones

This one isn’t a fun one but it’s one I’ve been acutely aware of since my first Prostap injection many years ago. When I had my first injection, the nurse told me to make sure I up my calcium intake because until around the age of 25, your body is still developing your bone density. I was 22/23 when I started the injections.

Once we hit menopause, we’re more at risk of developing osteoporosis because of the low levels of oestrogen in our bodies.

The first option is to take HRT as it can help to prevent osteoporosis.

a. Exercise

NHS UK recommends exercising regularly, including weight-bearing and resistance exercises. You should consult your doctor before undertaking any new exercise.

b. Eating a healthy diet

This includes fruit, vegetables, and calcium high food (milk/yoghurt). Now I’ve got the Prostap hunger (hanger), I’ve been conscious of the choices I make when I have a snack. More crudités, less chocolate.

c. Going outside in the sunshine

Going outside in the sun helps your body to naturally produce vitamin D which helps to look after your bones and keep them strong. Remember to wear sunscreen though. Skin cancer is no joke and you’ll still get the vitamin D benefit wearing sunscreen.

d. Taking supplements

If you’re worried you won’t get enough calcium or vitamin D from your diet, then you could take a supplement but it’s something you’d need to talk to your doctor about before taking them.

There is a brilliant small business called BWL Health and Vitamins. You can either buy from them directly at www.bwlhealthvitamins.co.uk or search BWL Health & Vitamins on Amazon. Give them a follow on Instagram too.

Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas you haven’t tried before to ease the symptoms of menopause.

Don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on social media. You’ll be notified when part two goes live where I’ll be sharing tips for hot flushes/night sweats, difficulty sleeping, and constant nausea.

What tips do you swear by for easing menopause symptoms? Let me know in the comments.


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