Eileen answers your questions on IBS, how long menopause lasts and fatigue


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


21 December 2015

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I am going to be answering some more of your questions that you very kindly sent in, so here goes…

Question 1: Can menopause make IBS worse?

The first one is from Caroline, who is 53, she says; “I suffer from IBS and the last two months my IBS has been really painful. I’m back and forth at the doctors and she is blaming it on the menopause, is this true?”

Well, it certainly can be Caroline. We know that falling oestrogen can actually affect the digestive system; it tends to slow everything down. So if you’re already suffering from symptoms such as constipation, bloating, wind, diarrhoea or cramping, then this slowing down of your digestive tract is actually going to make your symptoms worse.

Now there are a couple of things you can try yourself to see if they will help. The first thing is watch your intake of carbohydrates. We know as well through the menopause, the breakdown of carbohydrates can be a lot more difficult and lots of carbs can cause lots of bloating. So if you’re eating a lot of rice or bread or pasta, then try cutting those down for a couple of weeks and just see what happens. The other thing is, well one of my favourites, is water! Your digestive tract is like a huge processing plant and if you’re dehydrated, everything gets clogged up even further and it will slow down things as well. So remember to add in at least 4 or 5 glasses of plain water every day.

The other things that you could do is maybe look at certain supplements. Magnesium, if you take enough, can sometimes get things moving a little bit and we also have a lovely remedy called Molkosan® Fruit Digestion, which can enhance the action of your digestive tract. So have a little try of these and let me know how you get on.

Question 2: How long does menopause last and what to expect when post-menopausal?

Now the second question is from Rita, who’s 54 and she’s asking; “Can you talk about the length and duration of the menopause and what we can expect when you’re post- menopausal. What’s the average when things settle down and when will we feel like our old selves?”

This is one of the most asked questions we get at A.Vogel Talks Menopause, but it’s also one of the most difficult to answer, because it’s going to be different for every single one of you.

I can give you a rough average if you like. Now, from your early 40’s to your mid 40’s your hormones can start to very subtly change as you go towards the menopause. For a little while, maybe even a couple of years, you might not notice anything different going on. But, after a little period of time, you may find you start to get some menopausal symptoms and you can still get these when your periods are completely regular. And this is sometimes the point that can be really puzzling for women, because their going: ‘Wait a minute, I’m getting hot flushes but I’m still getting regular periods, how can I be going through the menopause?

So this particular phase is almost like a transition. You’re starting to get some menopause symptom, but you’re still getting regular periods and then eventually you should find that your periods will start to change. Now this is another area which can be completely different for everybody. Some women, their periods can just stop suddenly overnight and that’s it and they really are the lucky ones.

For a lot of other women, maybe for another couple of years, they will see their periods start to change. Now they can start to get closer together, they can start to get longer, they can start to get further apart and they can start to get less heavy. Or it can end up being a whole combination of these different things. But normally this change about period will last maybe a couple of years.

At some point your periods are going to stop. The problem is you don’t know when they stopped for good, until you have gone at least a year without a period. And we normally say two years because we do find a lot of women coming back saying:’I’ve not has a period for 18 months and now suddenly one has come back, what’s going on?’ So I think you can roughly say, from the moment you start to notice any changes, be it a change in your period or be it starting to get some menopausal symptoms, that peri-menopause phase is roughly about three years and then we would say, another two years and that’s you well and truly post-menopausal. So you can be looking about five years, which if you think about it, is roughly about the same time that teenagers take to get through puberty.

Now she is also asking about what we can expect when post-menopausal. This is another one that can be different for every woman. In theory, once you are through the menopause, after a year or two, you’re symptoms should be settling down and there is no reason why you can’t feel great afterwards. Your body is a wonderful machine and it can learn to adapt to these lower levels of hormones and a lot of women find they are just as healthy, if not more so, after the menopause.

So there is still plenty to look forward to. But again, this can depend on your general health, it can depend on your diet and it can depend on your levels of stress. So looking after yourself well, at all times through the menopause, is really important, not only to help you through it, but to keep your health good afterwards as well.

She is also asking about when things will settle down. Well hopefully I covered that in the first part of the answer. Normally after two years when your periods stop for good, you should find your symptoms are easing off. If they don’t, or if you find your symptoms are actually getting worse, it could be a good idea to go and see your doctor. Low thyroid, low iron (even if you not getting periods) and low vitamin D, which is really common today in the UK, can all cause menopause-like symptoms and you can always go and ask your doctor to test for these just to actually rule them out. So hopefully that’s answered your questions Rita.

Question 3: Why I am so tired lately?

Now third question. This is from Julie, who’s 53 and she saying: “I feel very tired lately. I do work part-time and I have children still at home. I feel that I’m going through the menopause. Is this tiredness connected to it do you think?”

Yes, Yes, Yes! Honestly, fatigue is a really common menopause symptom and it’s one that a lot of women actually suffer from. If you think about it, the hormonal changes that are going on in your body really drain you of energy, there might not be a lot going on, on the outside, but there is an awful lot of rebalancing going on in the inside by your body.

It’s trying to cope with less of these hormones that you have had for many, many years and that can really, really drain you. If you have also got outside stress going on, and like Julie, she has got a part-time job, so she’s busy during the day and she has still got family to look after at night and I bet, you know Julie, you are just like every other single woman here , that you are putting yourself last. You are looking after everyone else first and there is never enough time for you.

So when fatigue strikes, it really is your body just saying ‘Help, I’ve had enough, I need to rest’. So you need to really make sure that you have a little time to yourself and you can actually see to your own needs as well. And as I always say to women, rest and relaxation is one of the best things that you can actually do for yourself. Your body needs it, in order to try and re-adjust and re-energise itself, so that’s very, very important.

Until next week...

So hopefully I have answered these questions today. If you have any more, or anybody has any questions they would like me to talk about, then please do send them in.

Now I have one other little thing for you. I have decided that we are going through this journey together, but I would like you to do a little bit of homework at then end of every session, during every week. Now, this one is maybe a little bit of a hard one, but I’d like you all to promise me that if you don’t already do it, that you have a least one or two glasses of plain water every day. Just add them into your usual routine. I’m not asking you to give up anything yet, but let me know how you get on; see if it makes a difference.

Now, I’m looking forward to talking to you next time week and the subject will be anxiety. So, I look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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