Ginge Unhinged

5 Ways To Help Menopause Under 40!

Hitting full blown menopause in my early thirties was not the plan!

Hot sweaty nightclubs, career ladder slog, dancing bikinis on sunset beaches, hen doo’s and baby showers, our twenties and thirties Instagram feeds are hectic in the memory making department. So, hitting full blown menopause after surgery was not in my early thirty something plan!

I learned quickly how to add a chin wax to my Brazilian, alas there would be no more of those wondrous derma-planing facials, removing my peach fuzz – these are a no go when you’re on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, this was a mere bump compared to the mountainous things I’d have to navigate, as this life stage – that ultimately all women
will experience – came along way earlier than my menopause knowledge had caught up with.

It’s been five years since my hysterectomy and I’ve been on a quest of self-discovery, taking me through the mill mentally and physically, so I thought I’d share a few things that helped or I wish I’d done sooner. This might just help your menopause feel less rocky and more rocking when you’re under forty.

1. Allow Yourself to Grieve

Whether maternal feelings tugged for a new or growing family or not, the choice to have your own children being taken away, can raise a whole host of emotions. There may be your personal sense of loss, or suddenly guilt purges, consumed by the feelings of others who may have had that dream for you.

Society still slightly shy’s away from grief, even in the familiar acceptance around losing a loved one, it’s all still a bit awkward. We might personally soldier on, focusing on the positive not expressing what we really need as those around find it incredibly difficult to know what to say. It’s no wonder that an early menopause is one of the more silent forms of grief, joining life moments like: divorce, job loss, or the breakdown of friendships, all going unspoken and unacknowledged.

It’s important to take time to sit in the mess for a while, it’s okay to lean into this. Fully acknowledge feelings: cry, scream, get angry, feel cheated or a little lost. You could journal, try therapy or thrash your anger out by visiting a rage room designed to smash the shit out of some stuff from vases, to cars!

Whatever feels cathartic for you, do it. Exploring your own version of grief wins over burying it down. When we allow ourselves to process something fully, although our brains start to naturally form a strategy, we can be sure that it’s a helpful one! It doesn’t mean it goes away but you’re creating space to allow a future you in.

However ignoring or seeking to just crack on with life as it was, may only lead to deep grief surfacing later with a bang. As for those around you who are feeling it too, grieving together and supporting each other is helpful to you all, but taking on their personal grief is another thing. Be mindful of your own feelings and needs.

2. Continue the Gentle Reminders to Friends Who Aren’t There Yet

The trouble is, life moves so quickly and for a lot of friends (and family) it’s easy to forget once the initial premature menopause conversation has been had, or the surgery scars have healed. Even you might be ticking along just fine until up pops a baby announcement, or a demon hot flush saturates your banging outfit in the middle of the date, all these things serving you a reminder that, you’re it for the long haul.

It’s okay to say no when energy is low or triggers arise, a gentle honest reminder is not pissing on their fireworks and true friends will understand. Of course, you want to be there for them, happy for their care-free life, but remember friendships work both ways. They may need a nudge as to why you’re feeling like you do, they should be respectful of your needs too. Maybe share the odd podcast or Instagram post with them that relates to your type of menopause.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t find ways to tackle your menopause symptoms and you can still thrive when difficult feelings come. Be clear when it’s a hard pass – it’s better for you and them, as everyone knows where they stand. Offer an explanation with an alternative, “My hormones are playing havoc at the mo and I’m just not up for a crowded night out, let’s book in dinner, I still really want to see you”, something along those lines. This is an honest reminder that this isn’t going away yet shows them you still care.

3. Seek a Community that Gets It!

There’s nothing quite like connecting and chatting to people who actually understand what you’re experiencing – so go find them! As the menopause awareness ramps up on socials such as Instagram and TikTok this is an easy way to not only consume knowledge about surgical menopause, premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) and medical menopause, but behind the handles sharing their stories, is a community of premature menopause warriors.

Find those who catch your vibe, comment on the posts and watch others have your back. Most of these women are willing to link you to others who are just like you – so send a DM. These conversations can lead to voice notes, facetimes and even in person meets where you can share, laugh and have an honest rant about your explicit rages!

If you like the formal route look into menopause support charities such as The Daisy Network or Menopause Support UK  full of information, a strong community and a host of events for you to mingle.

Local menopause groups or menopause cafes  might be something to try, initially you may be the one to educate around – “no Karen I’m not too young for menopause!” type chats (just my honest experience), but it’s still an opportunity to talk to others and raise some menopause awareness within the community itself. I believe you can gain a lot out of chatting to people of all ages and experiences.

4. Get Hormone Savvy

Quite frankly experiencing menopause much younger presents a different set of needs to your average peri-menopausal person. Your body, mind and social needs, will change over a much longer period so it’s less ‘going through’ and more a ‘lifelong deficiency in hormones’, so it’s good to be clued up and get hormone replacement therapy aware asap!

What do you need? Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, a combo or all? Coming in different forms, patches, pessaries, gels, creams, sprays and implants, to pop on, pop in or pop up, there are many to try! Ask yourself: how will your HRT routine fit your lifestyle at the age you are?

Research what addresses existing symptoms and explore things that prevent the ones you don’t want, such as vaginal dryness or vaginal atrophy. Think whole body, get acquainted with looking after everything from heart, brain and bone health to keeping the skin in your vagina and vulva as youthful as the skin on your face! Advocate all these needs to the doctor, be sure to get the full low down.

Be bold – second opinions are helpful if you’re not happy. Your doctor may not have dealt with a menopausal 23-year-old, so challenge them to seek a robust plan of action for you personally, not just offer the average perimenopausal prescription. If HRT isn’t an option for you (it’s only part of the jigsaw to your wellbeing anyway), push for support via alternative therapies (sometimes available on the NHS). Talk about supplements, other medications that help specific symptoms and Cognitive
Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

Book a double appointment, take in your noted questions and leave with a plan that suits you, including a clear timeframe of reviews. Perseverance is annoying but a necessity with anything new you try, and remember if your HRT dosage is correct and effective your symptoms should be minimal.

Oh, and if you’re going down the prescription route, it’s worth looking at a three month or yearly NHS prescription certificate. This shaves shed loads off the cost of the multiple medications, leaving more money for the fun stuff!

5. Find You Current Purpose

When we’re suddenly on a path that’s very different to where we thought we were heading, this change can rock the foundations of what we believe to be our purpose. The questions that often arise are: so, what now? What am I supposed to do now I’m not going to be this? Along with that, there is something a bit magical that happens with this physical shift, leading to a need to connect to self; not what society thought we should be, or that we didn’t fit the usual mould, but a niggle to seek a new purpose and make it count.

Some good questions to ask yourself instead are: what lights you up? What brings you joy? What do you really care about? Your answers will start to come and this allows a new purpose to form and you might even want to set some small goals. You might start something new or change your whole career! But whatever it stirs, lean in to it, this is your time to step into something fierce!

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