Lisa Snowdon details the symptoms of her early menopause
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The This Morning presenter, who is 41 years of age, is making the most of her time before “the change,” in order to take the fear out of the natural ageing experience that has left so many women feeling out of control and not like themselves. On a recent episode of the morning show, back in January of this year, Willoughby and co-presenter Phillip Schofield were joined by Dr Louise Newson and TV presenter Lisa Snowdon, who talked about her own personal experiences with menopause. Shortly before the episode aired, Willoughby took to social media, sharing why the segment meant a lot to her.
In an Instagram post, she said: “Today we are just beginning the conversation about the menopause with the Brilliant Dr Louise Newson. This is something that here on @thismorning we feel very passionately about and hope this year to help, educate, learn and listen together…
“Today @lisa_snowdon is talking about her own personal experience of this… I’ll be all ears… it’s coming in my next phase of life and as with everything I want to approach it without fear and I think knowledge is the key to that… see you at 10am.”
Whilst on air, Willoughby continued to show her keenness for the segment, saying how she wants to “listen to other women, hear stories, educate [herself] and learn”. She added: “I am sitting here like a sponge, this is my next phase of life, this is coming to me and I want to go into this without being fearful.”
The National Institute on Ageing (NIH) stresses that menopause is not a disease or disorder, but rather a normal part of ageing. Usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, women stop having periods and are no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
The process occurs due to the declining levels of women’s oestrogen, but can last for up to 14 years in some individuals. For some, the years leading up to that point, can cause changes in monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms. This process is called the menopausal transition or perimenopause.
Other common symptoms of menopause can include:
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low mood or anxiety
- Reduced sex drive (libido)
- Problems with memory and concentration.
Whilst on the show, Snowdon shared her experience, as the first symptoms she experienced was depression and anxiety. This led to doctors prescribing the star antidepressants, six months before realising she was on the wrong medication altogether.
Snowdon shared that she originally believed that the menopause would happen “many years in the future”, and so didn’t realise at first that she was perimenopausal.
She said that at the time, she had the feeling of “being completely out of control”, and found she wasn’t able to “do usual everyday things” or “process” things.
“It just felt very strange, I just couldn’t process things,” Snowdon explained. “And then your menstrual cycle starts changing and becomes really erratic, so some months you just don’t have a period and the next few months you don’t stop bleeding and it’s so heavy and so debilitating you cannot leave the house.”
Instantly seeing a reaction from the This Morning audience, Willoughby praised the star for sharing her experience, saying that it is a “really important conversation”, with many women not knowing a lot about menopause until it affects them.
Contrary to belief, the NIH warns that while the menopausal transition may commonly be referred to as “menopause”, true menopause doesn’t happen until one year after a woman’s final menstrual period.
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For that reason, a woman who does not want to get pregnant should continue to use birth control for at least a full 12 months after her last period.
Menopause can also be triggered by a hysterectomy or surgical removal of the ovaries, which produce hormones. Therefore, individuals who have had surgery to remove their uterus or ovaries, and are not taking hormones will experience symptoms of menopause immediately.
After menopause, women enter postmenopause. During this time women are more vulnerable to heart disease and osteoporosis, so it is important for individuals to continue to eat a healthy diet, be active, andensuret they get enough calcium for optimal bone health.
However, for those who experience debilitating symptoms during before or after menopause, there are various treatment options available to assist. These include:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- Vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly – maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms.
As the main treatment for menopause, HRT replaces hormones that are at a lower level as you approach menopause. Individuals can access HRT as soon as they start to experience menopausal symptoms, with higher doses available if needed.
A GP will usually recommend trying treatment for three months to see if it helps. If it does not, they may suggest changing your dose, or changing the type of HRT you’re taking.
The different types of HRT include:
- HRT hormones – most women take a combination of the hormones oestrogen and progestogen
- Ways of taking HRT – including tablets, skin patches, gels and vaginal creams, pessaries or rings
- HRT treatment plans – HRT medicine may be taken without stopping, or used in cycles where you take oestrogen without stopping but only take progestogen every few weeks.
For those women who decide not to take HRT, other medication known as tibolone can help to relieve symptoms. Similar to HRT it targets levels of both oestrogen and progestogen, but may not be as effective. It is also only suitable for individuals who had their last period more than a year ago.
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