Newsletter August 2020

Hey & welcome to your peri pathway.

We hope you have been enjoying the summer and for those of you who endure hot flushes, that you have been able to feel cool and refreshed. Thank you for responding to the peri pathway survey, you informed us what you would like and we have done our best to get it to you in this newsletter and beyond on Instagram @victoriahealthandwellbeing and Facebook.

Victoria is super delighted to share with you that her Norfolk Menopause Clinic is now open at The Space, Burston. Victoria says “I’ve met some wonderful customers and the entire reason I do my job is to help women realise they are not alone, that there are plenty of options, solutions and they deserve to feel joy and get their life back”. 
Victoria adheres to strict covid infection control to protect you, all sessions are socially distant.
To book an appointment email: [email protected] 

This month’s newsletter the focus is on:

Nutrition & mood swings
Tips for coping with symptoms
Full length guest interview with Clare Baumhauer Founder of Vulval Cancer UK Awareness
How to check your vulva infographics

Nutrition & mood swings

Many of you have asked for advice on nutrition, temper  and mood swings.

We are sure you won’t be surprised to learn how the two are incredibly related.

The graphic above spells out a clear message to all of us. We know we should eat healthily, we know it makes us feel better. You’ve all heard of clean eating, drinking 2 litres of water a day and the positive mindset it can bring. It can help you to feel more confident and resilient and that has to be appealing right?

When your hormones are unbalanced during the peri or post menopause, think of the different impact it’s having on YOU as a person. Is it making you anxious? Tired…super tired? Mix that with working, worrying if you still have a job, wondering how you are going to pay the bills, keeping the house tidy, getting petrol in the car, remembering that meeting you need to prepare a report for…thinking about a balanced nutritious meal can feel another layer of hard work, of pressure, when all you feel like doing is crawling onto the sofa, with a ready meal, bottle of wine and netflix!

You may choose the healthier version of ready meals or grab a take away on your way home however, you know deep down that these don’t really give you the balanced nutritional meal that your body needs on a regular basis.

There is a solution though so please don’t give yourself a hard time, you are always doing your best.

Eating processed foods high in bad fats, salt and sugars WILL most definitely impact on your mood, you may feel good while eating it but will soon feel low/moody/irritated/fat shortly after consumption.

Sugar will have your insulin levels spiking and dipping and this has a direct impact on your moods. Caffeine is not mood friendly  and also contributes directly to anxiety, so if anxiety is one of your peri symptoms, then think about reducing the amount you consume to 2 cups before midday, no caffeine after.

Think about fuelling your body, pretty much as you would a car. You need to feed your body foods that will support your emotional, mental and physical well-being.

If you are feeling overweight please do not start a ‘diet’, no fads work. Well, you may lose weight however, the weight will go back on again. Think habit, like anything it takes practice, but you can get there.

Try and programme your food choices to be kind to your mind and body.

Look below for tips.

Programme your mind to be kind:

 It is important. For those of you who can’t face anything first thing, try a cup of freshly boiled water, with lemon and fresh ginger and sip slowly while giving yourself time to wake up and think about your day ahead.
You may prefer to do some exercise before breakfast, whether that be a run, yoga, Pilates, kick boxing, whatever your preference, as long as you enjoy it and find it pleasurable.

When ready for breakfast think about gut and mood friendly foods. Avoid sugary cereals, white bread/toast and jam. The nutritional value is low and calories are wasted. Think about high fibre cereals or porridge oats, with fruits, natural yoghurt and of course chia seeds, flax seeds, and almonds.

It’s okay to snack, just think about your activity level and the nutritional value of your snack. Instead of a chocolate bar, or cake think about some nuts/dried fruits or a banana. The important thing is not to mentally give yourself a hard time if you eat a cake/chocolate/crisps. Remember, be kind to your mind. Tomorrow is another day.

Try tracking the food you eat, it may seem laborious however, you will thank yourself for it. Why? Well you will be able to identify a pattern. When you have a pattern, it is easier for you to see when/what triggers certain patterns of eating and the impact it can have on your mood. It can be a great incentive to be accountable. For example, you may have a craving for crisps or sweets a few days before a period. 

If you are feeling irritable, wound up, having mood swings, track these along with your other symptoms. It will help you become aware of how you are feeling prior to or the onset of these feelings. Talk openly with your loved ones about this and tell them you are likely to snap, shout, cry, this will allow them the option to give you space and help to avoid confrontations.

Take the pressure off yourself when you feel this way. What is an absolute priority? What can wait a few days? By prioritising and giving yourself permission to delay things, can help improve your mood.

Your peri pathway would love you to share what tips you have for helping yourself during this time. Please email: [email protected] subject line Improve Mood Tips.

Doing the job I do, I get to meet many women, all with a story to tell.

I met this lady and was blown away by her bravery, determination, motivation, drive and selflessness.

Clare Baumhauer is an exceptional woman, despite her own Lichen sclerosus/vulval cancer (LS/VC) journey, she has selflessly set up Vulval Cancer UK Awareness. She is a strong, empowering role model for many women. Clare has consented to share her story to help all women, in the hope that they can get the right diagnosis, at the right time.

Clare, can you please tell me about your awareness group?

I started my Vulval Cancer UK Awareness (VC)  support group first and later joined a Lichen Sclerosus (LS) group and met Emma Norman, who runs the LS group.  I was already raising awareness on my Instagram and Twitter, but we joined together and started the Facebook page – Lichen Sclerosus/Vulval Cancer UK Awareness and website 2 years ago. We also started our #knowyourvulva yearly campaigns to further raise awareness.

How did you become aware of VC/LS?

The first time I heard about VC was when the GP said I could have VC after many years of being told I had thrush. 
Looking back to being a child of about 5, I had vulval itching and was told I had cystitis even though the GP didn’t examine me. 
My symptoms came and went over the years, but I still went to see many GP’s in my 20’s and 30’s multiple times but was told I had thrush every time. Then finally a GP did a swab which came back clear; so a blood test was taken and this didn’t show up anything untoward. So, I was told it was  probably early menopause symptoms and sent on my way with no support, advice or anything. 
I had regular smear tests,  this was when I had  white patches on the vulva and a tear and nothing was mentioned by the health professionals.

I went back after a tear in my perineum wouldn’t heal and  had turned into a ulcer which got bigger and bigger, I was 43. At first GP said it was herpes and to go to a GUM clinic. I was shocked so she asked how many partners I had, and I said just my husband since the age of 18. She then looked again and said it could be VC, so I was urgently referred for a biopsy which showed LS and VC, again I had never heard of LS either. Looking back, we realised I had LS since a child so left undiagnosed and untreated turned to cancer.  

What triggered you to start VCUK Awareness?  

As I hadn’t heard of either conditions and no one I told had either, including many health professionals; I started to look on social media  for advice and didn’t find anything at first. I then came across a gynaecological charity on twitter which didn’t do much for VC and then found 3 more charities, but they didn’t include VC.  So, I decided to start my own awareness group. 
My  first story went viral and many women contacted me to say they had similar symptoms to me and after seeing my story went back to the doctors and mentioned LS which got them diagnosed  after years of being told thrush too. I had to keep going and give VC and LS a voice. 

What advice would you give women? 

To look at their vulva at least once a month so you know what’s normal for you and report any changes you see to your doctor.  If any treatment you are  given doesn’t help then go back,  and ask to be referred to a specialist as I don’t think that thrush is as common as they may think, as it could be LS. 

What practical tips can you share? 

Check your vulva and keep a diary and photos so can note and compare any changes and what could be causing any flares.

If diagnosed with LS then use a emollient regularly as well as a steroid.

No one should use perfume products and wear white cotton knickers. 


Resources:

Twitter- Vulval Cancer UK Awareness 
Instagram – Vulval Cancer UK Awareness 
YouTube- Vulval Cancer Lichen Sclerosus UK Awareness 
Pinterest- Vulval Cancer UK Awareness 
Twitter- Lichen sclerosus U.K. awareness 
Instagram- Lichen sclerosus U.K. awareness 
https://lsvcukawareness.weebly.com/

CHECK YOURSELF OUT LADIES #knowyourvulva