Dr Louise Newson is on a mission to help every woman live well during and after the perimenopause. On Happiful’s podcast she shares the impact the perimenopause can have and how to work positively with your healthcare practitioner
As the founder of My Menopause Doctor, the Balance App and the author of Preparing for the Perimenopause and Menopause, Dr Louise Newson is somewhat of a hormone-expert superhero in my eyes. Not only is she giving women the information to help themselves but she’s also providing up to date training for healthcare professionals and speaking with policy makers about the way women are treated and viewed when it comes to ‘the change’.
Read our interview with Dr Louise Newson in October’s edition of Happiful Magazine
The impact of the perimenopause and menopause
“I didn’t realise until I opened my clinic,” Louise explains, speaking on I am. I have, “how many women really suffer and how many women give up their jobs, have partners that leave them, are in crisis, really worry about their future health and actually have quite intrusive suicidal thoughts as a direct consequence of their hormones. We know that symptoms of low mood and anxiety - often crippling anxiety - are very common with the menopause.”
The menopause can have a drastic impact in the workplace and upon women’s careers too. Earlier this year My Menopause Doctor conducted an online survey of almost 4,000 women and the results revealed some shocking truths. “Just over 50% had either resigned or taken early retirement because of the perimenopause or menopause,” she shares. “That’s staggering! And women were taking time off work; almost half because of reduced efficiency and a quarter because they felt their work was poor.
“These women don’t want to give up work, they don't want to be sitting at home with no pay and not contributing to society,” she says. “It’s a financial car crash if women don’t work. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
If the perimenopause is impacting your life as Louise describes, having an open dialogue with your GP is key. “Every healthcare professional, whether it's a GP, a practice nurse, a pharmacist, a hospital doctor - we all really want to help all our patients, but if we haven’t had the right training it’s really difficult.”
As patients we can play a key role in our own care, she explains, and that means reading about what is happening for us and tracking any changes and challenges. “If we as women have more knowledge, we can direct the conversation. For example, if you use the free Balance App, you can monitor your own symptoms and download a health report to take with you and explain what you know about what is happening and what you need.”
If your consultation still doesn’t proceed as you hoped, there are still ways to address this. Louise shares great resources on her website so women can write to their GP as a follow up to their initial appointment. It is perfectly acceptable, she explains, to ask to speak to another practitioner who may be more familiar with the latest thinking around the perimenopause and menopause, without creating a hostile relationship.
Knowledge is power
Louise is a huge advocate for arming ourselves with all the information we might need to know about hormonal changes for our own benefit as well as for others. “The more we can do to help ourselves the better,” she says. “It's never too early to know about the menopause or the perimenopause because even if we don’t recognise it in ourselves we might recognise it in a friend or a work colleague.
She would love to normalise conversations about the menopause, so that it’s as usual as talking about tiredness during pregnancy or general low mood in the workplace.
Dr Louise Newson’s advice if you’re struggling
- Find out as much information as you can, but please make sure it's evidence based. The information on the Balance App and my website is all well researched, but there’s lots more out there too.
- Talk - This might not be verbally, there are lots of forums online. This will give you support and strength. I see lots of people sharing on my instagram, it's a wonderful community.
- Make sure that you are listened to and taken seriously by your healthcare professional. It’s not trivial - and please don’t give up.
Listen to the full interview with Dr Louise Newson, including discussions around antidepressants and the menopause, on our podcast I am. I have
Preparing for the Perimenopause and Menopause by Dr Louise Newson.
Published by Penguin Life, Paperback £9.99
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