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The Menopause Exchange Blog

MENOPAUSE ‘ASK THE EXPERTS’ QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

The following ‘Ask the Experts’ questions were sent in to The Menopause Exchange by our members, the answers were provided by our ‘Ask the Experts’ panel and included in issue 79 (winter 2018/19) of The Menopause Exchange newsletter.  If you would like to read the questions and answers in the latest issue of The Menopause Exchange newsletter sign up for FREE emailed newsletters.

I’m 53. I’m going through the menopause and I worry about everything. It’s difficult to cope with a job, three children and an elderly mother who has health problems. Do you think I should see a counsellor?

Dani Singer, specialist menopause counsellor and psychotherapist, replies:

It can be challenging to manage all the balls you’re currently juggling while also trying to manage your hormonal changes. Consider consulting your GP first. They can check, and advise on, your physical health and may be aware of local support groups. Sharing coping strategies with similarly placed women can be fun and supportive. As a counsellor, my inclination is to say that, yes, counselling would be potentially helpful. It may help you access ways to manage stress effectively through, for example, relaxation techniques and mindfulness, and may encourage you to make more time for yourself, to see friends and to do pleasurable activities. If you would like to find a local counsellor, contact the British Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists (www.bacp.co.uk) and the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (www.babcp.com).

Is there anything special about how Asian women experience the menopause?

Dr Nuttan Tanna, pharmacist consultant (women’s health & older people), replies:

Asian women generally report lower rate of menopausal symptoms compared with women in western countries. This may be explained by the Asian culture, where social status increases with age and because of a positive attitude to ageing, which means that women don’t struggle with, or complain of, menopausal symptoms – instead, they accept this as part of getting older. A 2005 study found that Asian post-menopausal women have more backache and muscle and joint pains but less frequent hot flushes and night sweats compared with western women. However, the authors say that it’s difficult to explain the results because of the diversity in Asian populations, where, for example, research shows that Japanese women don’t struggle with, or have, hot flushes as such but Chinese women do. A 2010 US study found that the most severe symptom experienced by Chinese and Korean women was ’forgetfulness’. For Asian Indian women, it was ’exhaustion or fatigue’ and for other Asian women it was ‘loss of sexual interest’. More recently, information from the SWAN (Study of Women Across the Nation) study found wide differences in menopausal symptoms among racial and ethnic groups. It’s thought that Asian women who have settled in western countries now live a westernised lifestyle and have information more readily available about the menopause. This, in turn, makes them seek help from a healthcare professional when going through the menopause.

References:

Lock M, Kaufert P, Gilbert P et al. Maturitas 1998; 10:317-332
Lock M. J Brit Men Soc 2002; 8(4):132-136
Haines CJ, Xing SM, Park KH et al Maturitas 2005; 52(3-4):264-276
Im E-O, Lee SH, Chee W. J Tanscult Nurs. 2010 ;21(2):123-133
Sohail S. J south Asian Feder Menopause Soc 2014;2(1):23-25.
Pangaja P, Harlow SD, Nan B, et al. [SWAN] Menopause 2017;24(2):142-149

Please can you tell me about using black cohosh for menopausal symptoms?

Kathy Abernethy, senior nurse specialist, replies:

Black cohosh is a herbal treatment that, over the years, has been used to help menopausal symptoms. While there’s a lack of good scientific evidence to show that it may be effective, NICE guidance in the UK states that there may be some evidence that black cohosh helps flushes and sweats. The quality of products varies, so buy a standardised product from a UK-based supplier. Black cohosh sold directly in the UK must meet standards in terms of quality and safety, whereas some online providers from overseas may not. In the past, there has been a link with liver problems. This is less of a problem with doses found in UK products, but anyone with liver issues already should avoid it. Black cohosh isn’t recommended for women who have had breast cancer.

I am 51. What foods will benefit my skin?

Angie Jefferson, consultant dietitian, replies:

Our skin lets fluid (sweat) out but not in, makes vitamin D and is completely replaced every seven weeks. No wonder it sometimes feels a little dry and neglected! Nutrients that help to maintain healthy skin include vitamin A, vitamin B group, vitamin C, biotin and iodine. Unsaturated oils (e.g. olive and rapeseed oil) and omega-3 oils from oily fish can help to improve dry skin and conditions such as psoriasis. The best route to healthy skin is to eat a healthy diet: fruit and vegetables in a rainbow of colours; fish and seafood; lean meats and poultry; wholegrains and higher fibre carbohydrates; and small amounts of unsaturated oils.

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