What is early menopause and is it linked to alcohol addiction? | The Sun02/16/2023
MENOPAUSE is a condition that occurs when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels.
It usually happens in women over the age of 45, and sometimes it can happen earlier.
This can occur naturally, or can be down to reasons such as surgery to remove the ovaries, genetic reasons or cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.
If your periods stop before you're 45, then this is classed as early menopause, also known as perimenopause, which the NHS states can have a big impact on your life, including relationships and work.
Around 13million women in the UK are thought to be living with the menopause, which is a natural yet sometimes debilitating part of ageing.
This week, police investigating the case of missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley claimed that the 45-year-old had been struggling with early menopause.
As a result of this, police said Nicola had been battling issues with alcohol, leading police to class her case as a 'high risk missing persons' investigation.
However, police have been slammed for revealing these details, with former officers questioning 'how it helps'.
But how are alcohol and menopause linked?
Women who are experiencing the menopause can become especially vulnerable to depression.
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Alcohol affects the female body differently to how it affects the male body.
This is caused by the females' lower levels of dehydrogenase enzymes, the enzyme that breaks down alcohol, coupled with the higher fat/water ratio of the female body, medics state.
In a study published in 2018, experts said that women can develop alcohol issues earlier in life compared to their male counterparts.
The experts said: "Stress and depression related to menopause may trigger the onset of alcohol abuse or worsen established alcohol misuse.
"Alcohol abuse decreases quality of life and any potential positive effects of moderate alcohol intake are minuscule in comparison to the adverse effects caused by alcohol abuse."
Experts at Delamere Health said that it's common for people who are already moderate-to-heavy drinkers to become even more dependent on alcohol during the onset of menopause symptoms.
During this period of time, women are more susceptible to depression, even if they have experienced it before.
"This is because a drop in estrogen levels leads to reduced serotonin and affects the pleasure receptors in the brain.
"As we know, alcohol is also a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant, which means if you’re already feeling low due to hormonal changes, having a drink is only going to make things worse," the experts said.
Fabulous Menopause Matters
An estimated one in five of the UK’s population are currently experiencing it.
Yet the menopause is still whispered in hush tones like it’s something to be embarrassed about.
The stigma attached to the transition means women have been suffering in silence for centuries.
The Sun are determined to change that, launching the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign to give the taboo a long-awaited kick, and get women the support they need.
The campaign has three aims:
- To make HRT free in England
- To get every workplace to have a menopause policy to provide support
- To bust taboos around the menopause
The campaign has been backed by a host of influential figures including Baroness Karren Brady CBE, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Jane Moore, Michelle Heaton, Zoe Hardman, Saira Khan, Trisha Goddard, as well as Dr Louise Newson, Carolyn Harris MP, Jess Phillips MP, Caroline Nokes MP and Rachel Maclean MP.
Exclusive research commissioned by Fabulous, which surveyed 2,000 British women aged 45-65 who are going through or have been through the menopause, found that 49% of women suffered feelings of depression, while 7% felt suicidal while going through the menopause.
50% of respondents said there is not enough support out there for menopausal women, which is simply not good enough. It’s time to change that.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
When a woman has stopped having periods for at least 12 months she is classed as being in menopause.
The ovaries stop working and releasing eggs, with levels of progesterone and estrogen fluctuating.
This has side effects, the most common being:
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Aching joints
- Frequent urination
- Stomach cramps
- Loss of libido.
If you are experiencing menopause your GP can help you and might offer Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which can help alleviate some symptoms.
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If you're concerned about your drinking or someone else's, see your GP, the NHS says.
They'll be able to explain what help is available after assessing your drinking habits, from counselling to medicine and support groups.
Where to get help with alcohol
There are plenty of helpful resources and tools to help you with your drinking issues.
Drinkline – Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
Alcoholics anonymous – free self-help group that offers a 12 week plan
Al-Anon – A group for family members or friends struggling to help a loved one
Adfam – a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol
National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa – helpline for children who have parents who are alcohol dependent – call 0800 358 3456
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