The good the bad and the (udderly) outrageous.
Due to today’s longer life spans, women can expect to spend at least one third of their life in their postmenopausal years. In the past when it came to hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, and mood swings women were at best, advised to grin and bear it, at worst accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake.
The Victorians viewed menopause as a mental illness and doctors in England began prescribing deadly douches containing a cocktail of acetate of lead, morphine and chloroform.
In 1845 Frenchman Menville de Ponsan devoted an entire book to menopause, thoughtfully entitled “the death of the womb.”
The latter part of the 19th century saw a trend toward the institutionalisation of menopausal women who dared to behave badly. The obstetrician Lawson Tait believed that menopause induced hysteria and general non-compliance in women which were grounds enough to commit her to the sanatorium. Interesting to note that Tait also believed that Jack the Ripper was a woman and a midwife to boot.
Some other treatments prescribed for menopause were opium, wine and cannabis (I’d call that rock ‘n roll but then that’s just me) Other big hitters in the late Victorian obstetricians bag of tricks were powdered ovaries and testicles, most likely derived from pig parts (or worse).
By the 1900s the pharmaceutical company Merck produced oestrogen from the desiccated ovaries of cows. By the 1920s a derivative of amniotic fluid from pregnant cows was developed.
In 1949 Wyeth-Ayerst introduced a drug composed of estrogenic compounds called Premarin (Pregnant mare’s urine).
Roll in the 1960’s an era that would herald the arrival of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT promised (and often delivered) the liberation of millions of women from “l’enfer des femmes” (lit. a woman’s hell).
However, in 2000 and 2001 as part of a study, an increase in heart attacks, strokes and blood clots in menopausal women participants was found. In 2002 the number of breast cancer cases had increased to the point that the study was abruptly halted. In 2003, additional results reported an increased risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The current medicinal trend today is “bioidentical” or “natural” hormones, Hoorah! I hear you shout. But are they any safer or more effective than hormones used in traditional HRT?
Get your umbrella out – your parade is about to be rained on.
No, apparently they aren’t. According to the Food and Drug Administration and several medical specialty groups, the hormones marketed as “bioidentical” and “natural” are no safer than hormones used in traditional hormone therapy, and there’s no evidence they’re any more effective. Bioidentical hormones are defined as man-made hormones that are very similar to the hormones produced by the human body – the “man-made” part sticks in throat slightly. The jury’s still out on this type of HRT and Body Identical HRT is emerging at the time of this article.
So for those of us (myself included) looking for a more “natural” form of “NATURAL” what are the options?
Go Green – in that I refer to herbal remedies such as Black Cohosh, Sage leaf, Red Clover, Dong Quai for example. Many women experience relief from bothersome symptoms going down this route and if it works for you then you’re onto a winner.
We have acupuncture, which can help promote hormone balance, reduce anxiety and hot flushes. Some women gain temporary relief from regular massage or reflexology.
As a Clinical Hypnotherapist (and of a certain age myself) you’ll hardly be surprised I advocate Hypnotherapy. And not just because it’s what I do, but because it works for me and for the majority of my clients. I say majority because hypnotherapy is not magic. There are those who rely and depend upon orthodox solutions and indeed some of those women will enjoy the placebo effect – I have blogged about this anomaly in finer detail – visit https://harleystreethypnotherapyblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/mind-body-medicine/
Many women might shy away from using hypnotherapy for menopausal symptoms but a report suggests that of all the alternative treatments available, from herbal supplements to acupuncture, hypnosis is almost uniquely effective in alleviating symptoms of menopause.
There have been many clinical studies recently on the topic of hypnotherapy for menopause one in particular from the North American Menopause Society which concluded there was solid evidence that both clinical hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy were beneficial. It showed that women who had hypnotherapy 5x a week had a dramatic reduction in the number and severity of hot flushes and associated symptoms.
The menopause is not an illness, it’s a transition, and it’s as much about emotional well-being as physical. Along with the physical changes in our bodies we must ensure we retain and maintain our self-confidence, our sex drive and our independence. We should celebrate turning the page to this new chapter in a woman’s life.
I thought I would mention that in Japan they don’t have a word for menopause. This is because middle aged women are highly valued and respected. Far from being seen as a negative phase, it’s a positive transition in which women are older but also wiser.
Ladies, we can do this. We owe it to ourselves to keep ourselves vibrant, healthy both mentally and physically and most of all … to stay fabulous.
Gail Marra D.Hyp MNCH (Acc) LAPHP is a GHR registered Clinical Hypnotherapist accredited by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, National Register of Psychotherapists and Counsellors and the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council
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