Managing endometriosis, breast cancer and histamine intolerance alongside menopausal symptoms.
What conditions might affect my menopause?
Menopause can be a difficult time for every woman. But, often, pre-existing conditions can mean that symptoms of menopause are more severe or treatment options become more limited.
This article focuses on some of the most common conditions that women experience before and during menopause.
Endometriosis can cause painful, heavy periods, severe pelvic pain and problems getting pregnant. It’s caused by tissue similar to that which usually lines the womb growing elsewhere in the body such as in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and bowels. The growth of this extra tissue is encouraged by the hormone oestrogen which women produce most of pre-menopause.
Will endometriosis get worse as I go through menopause?
During perimenopause the symptoms of endometriosis may be at their worst. It’s at this time that periods are becoming more irregular and infrequent as they come to an end - but sometimes they can be heavier and more painful as the body is going through perimenopause and approaching menopause.
The Mirena Coil can be very good for treating symptoms of endometriosis as it reduces the growth of the endometrium. The benefit is that the Mirena Coil can then also be used for the progesterone part of your HRT.
Will endometriosis get better after menopause?
Thankfully, endometriosis symptoms may ease after the menopause since periods will have come to an end and the main hormone which feeds endometriosis, oestrogen, decreases rapidly.
Unfortunately though, the ovaries may still produce small amounts of oestrogen so it may mean that the endometriosis is still ongoing and pain could continue into menopause.
Histamine is a chemical that’s important in our body but can be known to build up to excessive levels in some people. For these people, their bodies may struggle to get rid of the excess histamine causing allergy-like symptoms.
Histamine also reacts with oestrogen in the body. So if you are intolerant to histamine you won’t tolerate your own oestrogen very well either - causing various symptoms.
Most breast cancers occur in women who are likely to have been through menopause since the most common age for breast cancer is in women over 50.
But just because most breast cancer occurs in post-menopausal women doesn't mean that it's the menopause which has caused breast cancer. In fact, the causes of breast cancer are varied and not known for sure.
If you have breast cancer this may affect how you choose to treat your menopausal symptoms - particularly HRT. Find out more about breast cancer and HRT in our treatment options section.
The perimenopause brings with it many physical symptoms. As your oestrogen levels drop, you stop menstruating, and you may experience mood shifts, dry skin or changes in weight. While these signs vary for each of us, a common complaint among those going through menopause is leg pain and muscle tension.
Too often, women living with disability are left out of the menopause and midlife women's health conversation and, as a result, put their symptoms down to pre-existing health conditions, not realising that they could actually be entering perimenopause or menopause.
Katie invited Emma Livingstone, founder of Up – The Adult Cerebral Palsy Movement, to the podcast to share her own story and to explain why it is so important for women, in particular those with cerebral palsy, to have their own pathways within healthcare.
Emma talks about her own experience living with a long-term disability and why she was inspired to found Up and campaign for better understanding and support from the medical community and the wider community.
Katie welcomed author and pelvic floor specialist, Kim Vopni, to the podcast to talk us through probably one of the most uncomfortable and awkward conditions that can affect a woman, pelvic organ prolapse.
Kim explains exactly what a prolapse is, the most common causes and how commonly they occur. She also gives advice on treatment options, including how to do pelvic floor exercises effectively and also when surgery might be the best option.