Hello and welcome. I’m Laura Chandler. I’m a 46-year-old peri-menopausal woman. If peri-menopause is a term that doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry, all will become clear through this course.
For the past six years I’ve been running ZenergyActive my Pilates business, specialising in supporting women’s health and well-being as they enter the pre and peri menopause through to post menopause phase of life.
I’m extremely lucky that I get to work with some amazing women who talk to me about how they’re feeling and what they need to support their minds and bodies. And I’ve been shocked by the lack of information and knowledge and support that we all are missing when it comes to menopause.
For the past four years, I’ve engaged Global Health Care Professionals and academics to become an expert myself in all things menopause. I’m now certified to share my knowledge with you. I’ve interviewed hundreds of women to and families of women who are going through the peri to post menopause transition, to really understand the profound impact that the menopause can have on emotions, mind and body, but also on relationships and our broader world.
I have now turned all of that knowledge into Menopause 360°, which is a digestible way of taking that information and sharing with you, on a journey around the mind and body, how we can actually affect our menopause journey through some simple lifestyle changes. And I’ll also help you to navigate the world of HRT, and I’m going to make this very actionable. So, you will walk away with lots of knowledge, but also a real sense of clarity as to how you’re going to apply it.
Thank you for investing in the course and investing in me and I’m very much look forward to this journey together.
I’m sure part of the reason you’re on this course is because of this very fact, the menopause is shrouded in mystery. Like many things that women experience in life, whether it’s puberty, periods, pregnancy, childbirth, and now menopause there is so much misinformation and myths and confusion around what is a very natural process, but it also has a very profound impact.
On this journey I’m going to be getting rid of the mystery and giving you the full picture of what menopause is. Now that does mean there’s going to be some confronting information. I’m not going to shy away from sharing the facts, because of this point, there’s too much mystery and that just creates anxiety and worry. We’re going to get rid of all of that, get rid of the confusion and the fear. But it does mean you need to come on a journey of is an up and down, it’s a bit of a roller coaster just like menopause. There’re some highs and there’s some lows, so I want you to be a reassured that we end in a very positive place. There’s lots that can be done about it. But in order to give you clarity I am going to share with you some of the facts.
Now all of the quotes, stats and facts I share with you, are all referenced in the sources and resources at the end of each chapter. So, I’ll go through them in the content, but just know that if there’s anything you want to look up further, then it will all be held for you in the resources section of the Hub.
Some women sail through menopause. But menopausal symptoms do affect more than 75% of women, the vast majority of women are impacted by menopausal symptoms. And 25% describes severe symptoms, in fact, it’s over 25%, describes severe symptoms, so severe that 10% of women have to seriously consider giving up work. And when you think 13 million women in the UK are going through the menopause transition at any one point, half the population are going to be going through menopause, these are enormous statistics.
And of course, menopause comes at a time in life when we are hopefully in the centre of a vibrant, busy life where we’ve got many other things going on. But menopause impacts our lives. It’s not separate to everything else that’s going on in our lives. But also, our life impacts menopause, because our symptoms can be exacerbated by being tired, being stressed, being depleted of energy. There is a dual relationship here between menopause and our broader lives.
And who will we turning to when we feel that our menopausal symptoms are impacting on our quality of life. Well, we would talk to our GP’s our healthcare professionals, and yet many GP’s have never had any formal menopause training. And even those that have, if they’re not staying up to speed with the developments in the research and in the science, then they may be outdated with their knowledge.
It really puts the onus on us to make sure that we are self-advocating and not putting up with experiences with our GP’s that are not good enough. Dr. Louise Carter talks about that in her talk as well as I do have a look at her talk.
That combination means that we are often left feeling isolated. We’re trying to handle it on our own, we’re frightened because we don’t have clear information and we’re just confused.
Fear not, while menopause is inevitable, suffering is optional. I want you to feel reassured, I’ve gone through the stats, those are the facts, but I want you to know that you are in control. There is so much that we can do to support ourselves through our menopause transition. We just need to know the full picture.
And that is why I’ve created Menopause 360°. This is about helping you understand the profound impact that menopause can have holistically on your mind and on your body. I’ve broken the course down into bite-sized chunks, where we are going to journey together around the body looking at how the menopause impacts.
• our brain and how we feel in our in our minds
• our gut health
• our heart health
• our bones
• our muscles
• our pelvic floor health
• our gynae and
• our sexual well-being
Before we conclude with an action plan all around how we then take that information and apply it to our lives. In the final conclusion, in the Managing your Menopause section, I also talk about HRT as well, so that if that is right for you or you just at least want to know the basics of HRT, it is covered in the final chapter.
I’d like to start, so that we’re all on the same page as we enter the course, with what is the menopause? I’m sure we’ve all gone to Dr. Google to have a look at what the menopause is. So, what does it say? One of the first sources is the NHS where it says, the menopause is when a woman stops having periods is a natural part of aging that usually happens between 45 and 55 years old.
That’s probably what most of us think are when we think of the menopause. We’re stopping our periods, that impacts on our fertility and we may be think of a few symptoms. So, in a nutshell, I think we think periods stop fertility stops, we get hot flushes and mood swings, and that’s kind of surmises a total knowledge of menopause. Yet there’s so much more to it and indeed there’s so many more symptoms that are connected to menopause. And this sort makes it difficult for people to know whether they are experiencing menopause, menopausal symptoms or not or indeed whether it’s something else. Or whether it’s age-related symptoms.
There are 34 symptoms that are kind of commonly talked about but actually I’ve seen 40 symptoms, 50 symptoms plus, you can have a look down this list, but I would just say that the course will take you through the symptoms in a less overwhelming way than this. But we’re also going to look beyond the symptoms. We’re going to look at how why is that happening? How those symptoms might be manifesting themselves? And the connection to menopause is not to say everything here is always going to be menopause. Some of these do have crossovers with other illnesses or diseases and you would need to work with your GP to discount any of that. But I think that the few more commonly you’re going to experience the situation where the menopause isn’t even considered.
I want you to feel confident in how the menopause can appear in the body and in the mind, and then you can be confident to at least have the conversation with your GP about whether indeed it could be the menopause, and therefore how you might treat it differently.
So, what is the menopause really, beyond the symptoms and beyond those simple facts, what it actually will boils down to three hormones and that’s
And the hormone cycle of those hormones is really what’s at the heart of the menopause. So, have a look at this. Let’s look at oestrogen. So that’s the shape of oestrogen across our life cycle. If you imagine birth through to death that is what is going on through the key phases of our lives.
Then let’s have a look at progesterone. You can see it’s kind of mirroring more or less. Testosterone gradually rises and falls through our life, it’s less well-documented and understood but we know that it does become less as we get older.
Let’s deep dive into oestrogen and progesterone. We’re born with trace amounts. During puberty those hormones fluctuate, and don’t we all remember that, so that was a roller coaster of an experience, and how it affected our minds and our bodies and the changes we’re experience. They then stabilize, the hormones stabilized through our fertile years and then we start to see that fluctuation once again. In fact, menopause has been described as reverse puberty, you know, we get all the same kind of changes, our skin changes, our body changes, our minds are changing. And therefore, you can see that there’s a kind of a mirror, there’s a duality here between puberty and menopause. Then after menopause itself, and I’ll explain what that is in a moment, we start to then sort of stabilize at low levels. The menopause is about a hormonal change within the body and it’s these three hormones that are the key hormones at play.
Now oestrogen, I’ve heard this described as the master regulator, I think Dr. Lisa Mosconi, who I’m going to talk to you about later in the course, describes oestrogen as the master regulator in our minds and in our bodies. I know we probably associate it with ovaries and fertility, but actually
• cognitive health,
• skin, hair and bone health,
• cardiovascular, so heart health,
• mood and energy (you’re thinking about those mood swings I know!)
but other essential body processes as well.
Progesterone contributes to
• skin and bone health
• breast health
• Brain health particularly protection and repair
• our response to stress anxiety and depression
• libido, sexual arousal even our ability to orgasm
• supports our metabolic functions
• muscle and bone strength
• our energy
• cognitive function
• urogenital health
These hormones have a huge role to play in our overall holistic health and well-being and yet you’ve just seen what’s going on during the menopausal transition. Really this course is about how do though that, how does that hormone or fluctuations impact on our minds and bodies, and that’s the journey we go on together through the course.
Now the menopause is a point in time, but it is also a transition. There are four key phases to the menopause, we’re going to start in the centre here with the menopause itself. The average age is 51 and this is the point in time when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. If you were to have no period for 11 months and two days, but then you’ve got a period, you wouldn’t be in menopause. You have to have had no period for exactly 12 consecutive months. So that is menopause, but there’s a transition to that point.
There’s period of time before that happens, which is called the perimenopause, average age around 47, when you experience menopausal symptoms due to those hormone changes, but you’re still having your period. it might be stable or it might be erratic. And then before that is called pre-menopause and this time in your life is before any menopausal symptoms occur.
At the other end of the scale, you’ve got post-menopause. So, this is the rest of your time in life after your menopause. So, after that 12 months without your period that is post-menopause. It’s not to say that symptoms then stop, in fact symptoms can last for months or decades, and that’s why we need to know how to manage it. Now the symptoms average around four years for those who do have symptoms.
And I do just want to flag that some women will have surgeries, operations that might put them or drugs that might put them into menopause early, or you might just get early menopause that’s classed as pre-40. Okay, because of the longer-term benefits that those hormones also bring, you would definitely want to be talking to your GP about your options, and there are lots of options and if you have early menopause. But I did want to acknowledge that there are surgically bought on menopauses as well.
That is so important that that transition, that’s a long time, our life expectancy now is 81, 82. So, if we’re having menopause around 50, 51, then we’ve got another third of our lives in menopause, post menopause. We want to be making sure that we are giving ourselves the best chance and not just managing our menopause symptoms, but also maximizing the change. And it’s not called the change for nothing the changes that happen within our mind within our body, it’s a transformation. And we have the opportunity if we know and understand the changes, to make it a really positive transformation. But we’ve got to know, we’ve got to have this full picture in order to make that happen.
I’ve also got some guest speakers who are going to support us in bringing some of this information to life; Dr. Louise Carter is a GP with a special interest in women’s health and you’ll find her talk on the Hub. She’s really helping us to understand more about HRT and helping us to prepare for our GP appointment. If you want, if you feel the symptoms need support from a GP and you want to talk through your options, then she’s going to prepare you for that GP consultation.
And then Evie Whitehead is a nutritional therapist and she has a specialism in gut health and so she’s going to talk about how she supports women through the menopause transition particularly with the gut health focus.
Also Becky Aston, a pelvic health physiotherapist. She discusses the changes that happen to us during menopause particularly around pelvic floor and our lining of the urinary tract and other changes that you might experience in this area. She does a wonderful talk about how we can put ourselves in the best possible position to improve our pelvic health.
And a note on the Hub itself. You can watch the videos, you can listen, so you could be out and about and listen to the videos, or you can read the transcripts. So, all the videos have a transcript. If you’re the kind of person that would rather just read the content and that’s an option for you as well. I know menopausal, perimenopausal women are some of the busiest women on the planet and I wanted to give you as many options as possible to be able to digest the information on the go however best you wish. It’s multi-device, so you could sit with your laptop or your phone, however best, or your iPad. You can tick complete, you can bookmark your progress, so if you want to go make a cup of tea, you can put the video on pause, but you can also see which section you’ve left to move on to the next one easily.
Remember to listen to the guest speakers. I have some bonus videos as well and that I reference and they’re all housed within the resources section. Sources and resources, so as I said, I’ll always quote the sources and you can then go off and read more about it. I’ll include resources where I think the extra reading or videos that you might like to go and watch as well.
Do join the Zenergy Menopause 360° Facebook group, because we can take a lot of the fear and confusion away by talking and sharing knowledge and sharing information. So, do join the closed group and I’d love to keep in touch with you and see how you’re progressing and see how you’re getting on with the course.
And then please leave feedback at the end of the course as well. I want this to be the best it can possibly be for you and for future students coming through, so please do leave feedback and a testimonial if you love it, too.
And now I’d like you to complete Activities one to three, to help you to really understand where you are on your menopause journey.
2. If you’re experiencing symptoms and/or cycle changes download the balance app to track symptoms and your cycle. So, the Balance app is a free app. It’s provided via the Doctor Louise Newson website. You can go into your app store and you’ll be able to find it looks like this, and it’s a great way to actually keep track really easy. I have a prompt that comes up at nine o’clock every night and it just reminds me to put in my symptoms, I track my cycle as well. Because we’re busy and we’re on the go and it just means it’s quick and easy to really get the data together as to where you are on this menopause journey. That becomes very useful when you have your GP appointment, which will come on to further in the course.
3. If you’re experiencing symptoms fill in the menopause symptoms questionnaire. So, I’ve given you a link to this and this enables you to assess which symptoms you’re experiencing. It will also mean you’ve got a starting point at the beginning of the course that as you implement the actions you might see improvements on those symptoms as well.
I really encourage you to, from the very beginning of this course, get on top of where you are now, so you’ve got a really clear starting point and keep hold of that data. So that by the time you finish the course, you also have a bank of data, which you’ll understand once you’ve done the course why that becomes really important for maximizing conversations that you have with healthcare professionals, if you want to go down that route.
But just to reiterate, this is a positive story of gaining clarity, gaining the facts and then putting an actionable plan in place. So, I’m very much looking forward to taking this journey with you. I’ll see you in the first section. I’ll see you in the brain and mental well-being chapter. See you there.