"Oh, what the f**k now?"
I was talking to one of my best mates at the start of December, who is also menopausal, about an outbreak of hives I'd had after drinking some wine and we both agreed that being a woman experiencing hormonal issues is just a constant state of "oh, for fucksake, what now?". I make no apologies for banging on about the varying different symptoms of #menopause because it's not just hot flushes and being a bit forgetful - it can be skin so itchy you make yourself almost bleed from scratching, a sudden onset sensitivity to pretty much anything - but foods and alcohol especially and all the other symptoms you can read about here, there's about 34 of them https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-are-the-34-symptoms-of-menopause#symptoms
When I received my #BRCA2 diagnosis in January 2020 and the conversation regarding preventative surgeries started, at no point was menopause ever mentioned. I say this because I genuinely feel that there is such a lack of awareness (although thankfully this is changing in no small part to https://www.instagram.com/menopause_doctor/ Dr. Louise Newson) that women are almost expected to just get on with it. This, of course, has to be true because all of us will go through it and everyone will have a completely unique experience, but to not even discuss the possible outcomes of having your ovaries removed is a complete travesty. I was so well researched ahead of my surgery that I went armed with my HRT already in my bag (I use Lenzetto spray). This was the right thing for me to do at the time, as the thought of surgical menopause quite frankly terrified me. Thank god I was prepared, as I was sent home with a pack of paracetamol and a crappy print out outlining 3 or 4 menopausal symptoms that I might experience *massive eye roll*.
Surgical menopause is not the same as menopause. I'm 45 and reckon prior to surgery I'd been experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms for about a year, but after surgical menopause (in my case removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes), you're in it. No gradual decline of hormones, bosh, they're gone.
So what has been my main concern? Hot flushes? Nope, not had a single one. Night sweats? Nope, dry as a bloody bone. Sleep issues? If you count falling asleep like a Nana by 9pm, then yes, otherwise no. The joyful symptom I'm currently working through is possible #histamine intolerance. I said to my specialist that I feel my surgical menopause happened at the wrong time: the start of winter/christmas party season or otherwise known as 'the season where Angi can't stop eating cheese and drinking wine' and I had no idea that hormonal changes can have a massive impact on this. Luckily for me, my skin is reminding me on an almost daily basis that this is the case. #Hives is an absolute fucker and as I'm now understanding can last between 4-6 weeks and if you're anything like me, you have to throw the kitchen sink at it.
Here are my top tips that I have gleaned from menopause experts who specialise in histamine intolerance:
Diet changes - I'll link the foods/drinks that are high histamine and once you've stopped crying about what you have to eliminate this is always the first recommendation. Click here
Double up on antihistamines. You might find OTC antihistamines work for you, they barely touched the sides for me so I am currently quadrupling my dosage due to a horrendous flare up. I've been prescribed fexofendaine - which isn't drowsy. Result.
Now this is the kicker for menopasual women: HRT could be an issue. If you are estrogen dominant then HRT could be causing histamine in your body to increase. They are closely linked. Dr Tina Peers is considered a guru in this area and here is her fact sheet. I discussed this with my specialist and we decided that HRT is too important for me to not take, so I've reduced my spray during this outbreak and am using the above 2 strategies to hopefully see me through.
Apply no creams other than calamine lotion. Holy moly my skin did not react well to other OTC creams. Nothing perfumed. Free from nasties. I smell like a hospital corridor.
Increase Vitamin C - this acts as a natural antihistamine.
I'll let you know how I get on. 2022 is the year where I am putting my health first, I have a referral to a dermatologist this week, so will report back on their recommendations. I'm also incredibly mindful that the cold weather is not helping as both my inner thighs were burning and itching like hell last night, and this is after a week on a low histamine diet. Not even a whiff of cheese or wine has passed these lips.
If you want more information here are some useful links, I'm off to sniff some wine, happy Sunday.