Using our cuppas as a safe space to chat about all sorts of things, we opened up a conversation on caring and menopause. Chatting to unpaid carers in our cuppa, we’ve collected lots of lived experience and advice, capturing what really matters to carers.
We may be caring whilst experiencing menopause or peri-menopause ourselves. Or caring for someone going through menopause. Some of us may be ticking both boxes! Here’s what unpaid carers in our community have to say:
How does menopause feel?
Carers shared the following symptoms:
A change of periods
Aches and pains (particularly shoulder and neck)
Why is it important for carers to know the signs of menopause?
The list of symptoms closely mirrors what we may experience through ‘carer stress’ or ‘carer burnout’. This means we may find ourselves or even our GPs ignoring and dismissing the symptoms as just a consequence of our caring role.
Recognising menopause when it’s happening is important. Firstly, there are treatments that could make us feel better - we don’t have to keep feeling this way! And secondly, it allows us to be more understanding of ourselves if we are struggling with our caring role.
In terms of the person we are caring for, it’s equally true that menopause symptoms could be assumed to be connected to their disability or diagnosis. However if it is menopause, we may be able to help relieve their symptoms with the right support or medication for them.
What treatments are available for menopause?
The best person to speak with would be your GP or to attend a Menopause clinic. We can find our own local clinic through the British Menopause Society.
There’s a growing number of treatments available. Including Hormone Replacement Therapy, which can be given in a number of ways, including tablets, skin patches, gel or implants.
“There are alternative types, so if one does not work for you, don’t give up” - Advice from unpaid carer
It was noted that those of us with high blood pressure, may not be suited to Hormone Replacement Therapy. Your doctor will be able to advise.
Some carers recommended alternative and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and essential oils
“I felt better after my acupuncture. Although I'm not sure if the acupuncture made the difference, or if it was just having an hour to myself whilst someone did something for me!” - Unpaid carer
Hormone Replacement Therapy and dementia
Unpaid carers in the cuppa mentioned that there was some research emerging around how the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy is starting to be linked to a reduction in dementia in later life. The Alzheimer’s Society has more information on this.
Things that help to manage the Menopause symptoms
Experiencing the menopause can be tough. And for unpaid carers there is often the added complication of not being able to rest or find the time or energy to look after ourselves properly.
Here are some things which can make us feel better:
If we have symptoms, see our GP or visit a local menopause clinic. Do it - book that appointment today.
Explain to those around us, to ensure they understand and know how they can help
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also tells us what support we can expect (and what we can wave around if the support is lacking).
It could also be useful to have the Balance - menopause support App which provides guidance about what is right for our bodies during the perimenopause and menopause. We have the option to download on our android or iPhone.
What would you add? Please do let us know, and help us to grow this resource.
You are also very welcome to our virtual cuppas which run from Monday to Friday. Join us for laughs, a fun chat and real deep conversations! If that is too big a step, visit our Facebook community to connect with other unpaid carers.