‘The M Word Dublin’, Ireland’s first Menopause Summit which I attended 10 days ago, was an outstanding success. Hosted by Aisling Grimley (below right) of My Second Spring and Catherine O’Keeffe (below left) of The Wellness Warrior, (pictured with Dr Mary Ryan below), the energy generated by over 350 women and one man gathered in a room in The Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel in Stillorgan Dublin was incredible.
Look, I thought I was well informed about the menopause. I had read everything I could of the limited resources I had when I was going through it in my late forties. But in fact, I understood very little of what happened in my body. (You can read my post which I re-published a few weeks ago HERE.)
I have decided to give a very random summary of the day; it is in no way comprehensive, but you will find links to various websites which might have the answers you need. Also menopause does not finish when your blood tests tell you that you are through it. Some symptoms worsen as you age. Sorry! But, on the plus side, there is also a lot to be happy about too. Live the life you are living!
DR MARY RYAN
The first speaker, Endocrinologist Dr. Mary Ryan( below) gave us a picture of what exactly happens in a woman’s body from puberty to menopause. In a spirited speech, she talked about self-care and reminded us that each woman is unique and no two women’s menopause will be the same.
Some will sail through it, some will have symptoms which can be managed by a healthy diet, supplements and exercise, but some women will feel that they are losing their minds. These women need to get professional advice and may need to take HRT to enable them to function.
A pragmatic approach to ageing was recommended and she recommended that we cut back on alcohol and treats.
Meg Matthews (below) created her website Meg’s Menopause because of her horrendous menopause experience, the worst being crippling anxiety, which made her afraid to leave her home for months. In addition, she has developed a product range of potions and lotions specific to menopause. Our goodie bag had her fabulous facial mist spray. Her main message was to seek help and find a good GP/medical professional early on.
THE WELLNESS WARRIOR
I really enjoyed the talk by event co-host Catherine O’Keeffe (otherwise known as The Wellness Warrior, Ireland’s first peri-menopause coach) because I have been preaching the same message for years. Catherine talked about:
Get a good doctor who understands your needs and get regular blood tests, a dexa scan and regular smear tests. Do not stick your head in the sand and think it will all go away. Be pro-active!
Eat healthily making sure you get adequate fats and nutrients and supplementation is a good idea also if you are deficient in certain minerals and vitamins. Magnesium is one of the supplements I take and it is recommended for menopausal women.
Walking, weights, dancing anything that gets you moving. So many benefits come from regular exercise…including improved mood and mental health.
Join classes, meet friends, be social. It is easy to become isolated and that can lead to poor mental health. Stay connected.
I loved the talk on skincare with Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr Katherine Mulrooney (Seavite) and Vichy Skincare’s Jeanette Ryan where they discussed the challenges posed by ageing skin. Vichy gifted each delegate with some beautiful creams developed to help with extreme dryness.
Lise-Ann talked about vulnerability, embracing it and so growing in confidence, while Alana discussed how we women are aiming for perfection in all spheres (at home and at work) and are being slowly strangled by constantly seeking it.
MONEY MONEY MONEY
Inez Murray, CEO of The Financial Alliance for Women, shared some fascinating stories about women and money around the world.
Niamh Prendergast of Davy Private, told us how to look after our future by making smart financial choices now and encouraged women to take control of their own finances.
Diane Danzebrink of menopausesupport.co.uk was the final speaker of the day and what an interesting story she told. A passionate advocate and campaigner for menopause awareness and education in the UK, she talked openly about taboo subjects such as vaginal health and sexual function in all stages before and after menopause. She emphasised how vaginal atrophy/dryness is overlooked and intercourse/sex can be painful and even impossible in many cases and can have an absolutely detrimental effect on relationships.
Dr. Mary Ryan had touched on the subject earlier in the day and explained how we neglect vaginal health and therefore many of us are plagued with UTIs. One way to help reduce these is to continuously keep the vagina lubricated. This is important for women at every stage and essential whether or not you are in a sexual relationship.
So what to use.
I have been using coconut oil for years and Replens more recently with limited success.
But talking with Diane and Katherine at the end of the day, two of the products in the goody bag were recommended and I am very happy with both. It is essential that we stop being squeamish about such matters and take our health into our own hands. The two products are MULTI-GYN liquigel, available in certain pharmacies and Yes.OB available from www.yesyesyes.org
You can see the products below with some of the rest of the fabulous products in our goodie bag.
1. Only use moisturisers/lubricants with non-perfumed ingredients
2. Local oestregen can be used in the form of creams, pessaries or a vaginal ring.
3. Women on HRT are generally not plagued with this problem.
THE MENOPAUSE HUB
One of the biggest problems is finding a doctor who understands and who knows all the options out there to help you.
I chatted with Loretta Dignam from The Menopause Hub who runs Ireland’s first dedicated Menopause Clinic (in Dublin) with doctors, acupuncturists, physiotherapists and psychologists all fully trained and informed on every option out there. Her failure to find a doctor who could help her with her own problems inspired her to put together a team of professionals.
At the moment, it is estimated that 80% of women get through the menopause within 4 years but for 10% it can last 10 to 12 years.
We need to educate women – and men – about menopause so that future generations of women will not suffer in the same way.
As a result a groundbreaking campaign to improve the health of women at menopause was launched in association with Linwoods. The #makemenopausematter campaign calls for increased menopause education for GPs, pharmacists and workplaces and to support the wellbeing of working women over 45.
This is a petition to have menopause and midlife women’s health placed high on the agenda in GP education, in the workplace and on the school curriculum.
You can support the campaign by signing the petition here.
I would like to thank Linwoods Health Foods for their invitation to be their guest at the Summit and for their continued support of women’s health.