July 6, 2022

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Exploding the myth of struggling with menopause

3 min read

By Paloma Lacy

One woman is helping to unpack the mysteries of menopause for women across South London, one symptom at a time.

Miss Rhiannon Bray, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Kingston’s New Victoria Hospital, is working hard to explode the myth that women have to struggle through menopause.

In fact, her first piece of advice is that if symptoms are getting the better of you, reach out to a skilled healthcare provider and set about creating a tailored plan to find a solution.

“The average age of menopause in the UK is 51, many women around 45 will be entering the perimenopause phase and their oestrogen levels will be starting to drop.

From sleep problems and lower libido, declining levels of oestrogen can play havoc with the body, thought processes and emotions, as we move through peri-menopause and onto menopause, so it’s important that women understand what to look out for, what may be considered normal and what’s not.”

And of course these are some of the symptoms that many will have heard of but the impact of menopause on the body can be wider reaching and not always the easiest of subjects to talk about.

 Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Kingston’s New Victoria Hospitall

Where the pelvic floor is concerned,  the main impact of ageing and the hormonal changes associated with menopause is the increased risk of prolapse and atrophy of the vaginal tissues.

Oestrogen is one of the main female hormones responsible for maintaining health in the pelvic floor, it also encourages the growth of healthy bacteria which can prevent recurrent urinary tract infections.

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Miss Bray says prolapse can also cause difficulties with passing urine or opening the bowels and this may require treatment.

Due to the lack of oestrogen in the tissues, women may be more vulnerable to urinary tract infections. If prolapse symptoms are affecting quality of life then women should consult a GP.

“The first line treatment for prolapse is pelvic floor exercises, which can be very effective,” said Miss Bray.

Perimenopause can also present with a long list of more generalised symptoms such as brain fog, mood changes, anxiety, tiredness and cognitive impairment, which can all be treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Thanks to a growing menopause awareness movement there is currently a public consultation looking at reclassifying oestrogen supplements so that they can be purchased over the counter.

This move would increase accessibility to HRT.

Many women feel reluctant to start any form of HRT as they are concerned regarding side effects.  This reclassification may go some way in alleviating some of these fears and help many women.

At The New Victoria Hospital there is a wide selection of effective and holistic support options to help women understand the changes happening to their body and manage their menopause symptoms, while understanding the treatment options and discovering what works for them.

Main Picture: Miss Rhiannon Bray, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Kingston’s New Victoria Hospital

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