Prime-time TV programme greeted as breakthrough for millions of women who struggle in their 50s
CBT therapy shown to reduce hot flushes by 64%, sleeplessness and night sweats by 95%
Breast cancer risk for HRT users lower than for alcohol and obesity
In The Truth About The Menopause, presented by Mariella Frostrup on BBC One a group of menopausal women were given a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help them with hot flushes, anxiety, brain fog and other symptoms of the menopause.
Presenter Mariella Frostrup admitted she was sceptical; how could talking and addressing negative thinking change the biological processes that hormone-depletion was prompting in their bodies? And yet, in one of the most significant revelations of this excellent programme, the results were clear. The women reported a 64% decrease in hot flushes and a 95% decrease in night sweats. When one of the women told her, “I feel great!” Frostrup responded, “You look revitalised.”
The programme was a rare prime-time investigation of a phenomenon that affects tens of millions of women in their lives. Yet, as Frostrup admitted, it is also something that is shameful, embarrassing and frustratingly little-understood by most of us.
Much of Frostrup’s focus was on understanding the choices that women had to help them with the physical and mental effects of the menopause. She looked at hormone replacement therapy (HRT), exercise and nutrition, as well as therapy. As she has been taking HRT for five years she was keen to investigate lingering fears that it would increase her breast cancer risk. But the news that alcohol consumption and obesity both increased the risk more than HRT, which had lessened her anxiety and helped with mood swings, she was reassured.
On social media, the programme was welcomed, although some women like Alison Butterworth on Twitter felt that sex had been overlooked. “Massively disappointed at no mention of women wondering what the hell happened to their sex drive. And their poor partners! #NoSexPlease #Menopause Obviously the need for a little wallflower like me to speak out !!!!”
Couples therapist Veronique Briant has addressed the issue of decreased libido on this site: "Menopause can be confusing and can play havoc with moods and sex drive…Health becomes a factor and medication can have affects on the body and mood too.
"Couples in mid-life may have often developed a certain stamina and sometimes forgotten how to access a relationship connection. Counselling can provide a relationship MOT of sorts - a checklist and reminder on the whole person and the relationship,"
Welldoing therapist Anna Storey has written of the psychological issues that arise at the time of menopause. As one client told her “I thought I had gone mad overnight.”
“Counselling can be tremendously helpful at this time of life. Talking things through with an independent professional, who is not involved in your family or social life, could help you process old unresolved conflicts, get rid of emotional baggage and figure out who your truly are.”
Connect with a CBT therapist on welldoing.org.