What is your age and stage?
When did your symptoms start?
For me, pretty much my only symptom was sleep disturbance around 50 and that was the one that sent me booking the doctor’s appointment. As a working mother of five, I can handle most of what life throws at me, but only if I get a good night’s sleep! When that started to go, I got help.
I think it’s fair to say that the perimenopause takes most of us by surprise. We may feel fabulous and in the peak of good health, only to become aware of niggling troublesome changes, caused by falling estrogen levels, which when pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle suddenly make sense.
What has been the most challenging thing to deal with?
The initial sleep disturbance. And with hindsight, my occasional severe headaches were also due to loss of estrogen, now thankfully no more since I started putting estrogen back into my system.
Have there been any positive symptoms?
No. I have yet to meet a woman who feels better during the menopause.
What are the things that are getting you through?
Daily exercise or movement of some kind, a strict seven and a half hours sleep routine, better gut health, high-fat low carb eating and, most obviously, taking HRT.
I think it’s fair to say that the perimenopause takes most of us by surprise.
What has made the biggest difference?
No question – HRT. As far as I’m concerned, HRT is simply topping up what my body is naturally lacking as I age. I thrive on it, with better sleep, stronger bones, improved mood, memory and energy levels.
Did you seek any advice from experts, friends or family?
Like most women, I had no real concept of what the menopause would be like until I started to consider my own personal journey. I found it baffling that there was so little information available to me and the millions of others who were at a similar stage of life.
My GP knew very little and I found online advice was often muddled and contradictory (often trying to sell me something) rather than positive and practical, so I decided to write The Good Menopause Guide and my follow up e-guide The Truth about HRT.
Is there anything you wish you’d known?
I would have found the information in The Good Menopause Guide and The Truth about HRT absolutely invaluable at the start of my journey if only I’d written the books earlier! Also to avoid wasting time and money on expensive ‘bio-identical’ unlicensed (compounded) hormones. All of which are potentially unsafe, unproven, unregulated and prey on vulnerable women for profit.
What has been the impact on your daily life?
The initial sleep disturbance was the most challenging to be honest, but since starting HRT I genuinely haven’t looked back.
Has there been an impact on your relationships?
It’s changed my relationship with close girlfriends and brought us closer together as we’ve shared our experiences. My sons are also much more aware of women’s health overall. It make us talk more openly as a family about female health issues, from menstruation to menopause.
Is there anything you’d do differently?
I would have started taking HRT on the NHS years earlier if only I’d known about it and how safe and effective the modern forms are. Studies clearly show we get more benefits the earlier we start taking it, so I wish someone had told me about it sooner.
It’s all about how to have a better second half of life, and I do believe the second half can be even better than the first.
What do you say to other women about the menopause?
I’ve long highlighted to my two daughters the importance of eating a well-balanced diet and doing weight-bearing exercise, to avoid ending up with crumbling bones later in life. I’ve reiterated this message to them further with my recent research.
From our late 20s onwards, we can’t build any more calcium into our bones, so it’s a matter of bone maintenance – preserving what we have already got through diet and exercise. This is severely tested during the first five years of the menopause, when nearly 10 percent of our bone mass is lost.
Weight-bearing exercises (any upright movement so pressure flows through the spine, pelvis and legs) also play a key role in strengthening bones and keeping them strong. And be aware of all kinds of health niggles and changes that occur in your 40s. There are more than 45 perimenopausal symptoms, so many of these – from achey joints to tinnitus, to anxiety and migraines – are highly likely to be due to declining estrogen.
What are your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?
The vast majority of us will live for 30 to 40 years after the menopause. So, my advice is to see this time of life as a good moment to take stock and begin to appreciate who we have become and what we may still achieve and do – or even change! It’s all about how to have a better second half of life, and I do believe the second half can be even better than the first.
Personally, I feel there is much more to do and achieve with my magazine, Liz Earle Wellbeing. We’re growing really fast (unusual for a print magazine these days) and I’m truly excited to be able to spread such good news for all midlife women.
Your menopause was…
A time for new opportunities and a chance to focus on how to be the best I can be.
You feel MPowered when...
I hear so many life-changing stories from women who have used my advice to literally transform their lives. It’s absolutely why I do what I do.
Read more from Liz at Lizearlewellbeing.com and follow her on Instagram @lizearleme.