Shirley Ballas health: My menopause lasted SEVEN years

Shirley Ballas says her hand injury is 'still painful'

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The 61-year-old has proved that she can still dance as well as she always could, but when she reached her 50th birthday she suddenly felt anxious, depressed and tired. All of these symptoms were down to the star going through the menopause – which she went on to reveal lasted for seven years.

Speaking to Radio5 Live the Strictly judge said: “Exactly on my 50th birthday was when I went through the menopause, and I think it lasted a good six or seven years to get through it completely.

“There is help out there for anybody who is going through the menopause and is struggling, I certainly was. It makes you depressed, it makes you tired, it makes you anxious, there are so many things when the body is going over the other side of the hill.”

Menopause affects every woman as they stop having periods and lose the ability to be able to get pregnant naturally.

The NHS states that this usually occurs around the age of 45 to 55, with 51 the average age of a woman going through menopause in the UK.

Unluckily for some symptoms such as the ones above can begin months or even years before their periods stop, according to the NHS. Even after periods stop, symptoms can still be felt four years after your last period.

The NHS explained that one in 10 women will experience menopause for up to 12 years with some symptoms being quite severe and impacting everyday lives tremendously.

The most common symptoms of menopause include the following:

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Low mood or anxiety
  • Reduced sex drive (libido)
  • Problems with memory and concentration.

Around one in 100 women enter the menopause early. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency and can affect women before they even turn 40.

If you begin to experience symptoms of menopause it is worthwhile talking to your GP as through a blood test they can confirm whether it is menopause or not and direct you on the best course of treatment.

According to statistics by Bupa, around 900,000 women in the UK have quit their jobs due to menopause.

Severe symptoms such as anxiety, brain fog, poor concentration and heavy or irregular bleeding mean that they feel they can no longer do their jobs to the fullest and so they end up leaving the workplace.

Professor Dame Lesley Regan, the chair of the Wellbeing of Women, said: “In the UK, there are nearly five million women working aged between 45-60 years.

“The majority of these women will go through the menopause, which frequently coincides with the peak of their careers, a time when they are at their most successful and productive.

“Through supporting women, employers can help to attract and improve retention of staff, ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce, increase productivity, maximise employee wellbeing and address the gender pay gap.”

Although there are a variety of treatments available for those experiencing menopause there are some myths about the long-term effects these can have on women.

The NHS are most likely to recommend these following treatments and lifestyle changes:

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
  • Vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly – maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms.

In addition, BBC Good Food recommends that women should increase their intake of food sources of calcium, magnesium and vitamins D and K to maintain integrity of the skeleton. In addition, high amounts of phosphorus – found in red meat, processed foods and fizzy drinks – should also be avoided.

Unlike the conventional methods, Shirley said that she has found success using bio-identical hormones to control her menopause.

The star added: “Fortunately for me in California I discovered bio-identical hormones and now I have a doctor here in Great Britain who administers them every four months. I feel like a new woman totally. I’m doing a lot better.”

The British Menopause Society explains that bio-identical hormones are precise duplicates of hormones that are found in the ovaries, adrenal glands and thyroid. However, this method can be costly and before you start a course of treatment it is always recommended that you consult your GP.

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