Lisa* came straight to the point when she rang me. “Can I have hypnotherapy for menopause symptoms? Other people I’ve rung say I can’t have it or that they don’t do it, but it’s driving me mad.”
Lisa was by no means on her own in finding the symptoms of the menopause difficult. Where she was in a rarer group was in asking for help – half of them don’t seek any help just grin and bear it.
Her GP had been supportive, and Lisa was on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to help address the effects of the menopause. She’d also been given some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as well, to help with her mood and anxiety.
“I know it’s working” she told me, “and I’m also trying other treatments too. Evening primrose oil, herbal supplements, and I’ve tried seeing an acupuncturist as well. They’re all helping but not with the things that are affecting me the most. That’s why I asked if you do hypnotherapy for menopause symptoms. I think it might be my last chance of stopping them.”
Lisa was talking about the two symptoms which she felt hadn’t got better at all – “in fact probably a bit worse”. Those who’ve been through the menopause, or lived with someone who has, you won’t be surprised to hear that these were hot flushes and night sweats.
The hypothalamus, found deep within the brain, is responsible for regulating our body temperature. It’s affected by changing oestregen levels, and these can vary erratically and decline during the menopause. That makes the hypothalamus send signals that are experienced as hot flushes and night sweats.
Although anxiety doesn’t affect oestregen levels it does heighten the body’s reaction to changes in hormones. It becomes very easy then to get trapped in a vicious cycle – anxious about the next hot flush, that hot flush made worse by anxiety, leading to more anxiety about the next hot flush, and so on.
“I read how you’ve helped people learn how to cool themselves down, because of itching and bad skin, and I was wondering if you could do that for me. Will I have to have what they had though?”
Lisa was glad to find out that there was a lot more choice than that within hypnotherapy for menopause symptoms. Her choice was to do some hypnosis that would allow her to talk to her autonomic nervous system. This is normally inaccessible, but it’s the part we talk to when we’re working on tinnitus or IBS for instance.
We got Lisa to relax more and more deeply, and then I asked her to imagine going inside her body. She took a journey round her body, found the part where the problem was, and then did what felt right to her to help put it right.
When she described it to me afterwards she was still surprised. “I thought I’d be imagining actually going round my body. But it was more like a walk, and that bit of my brain was like a fluffy sheep. It was really jumpy and nervous – I thought I’d have to shout at it to stop, but I had to reassure it instead.””
Afterwards Lisa had her first couple of hours without hot flushes for the first time since her menopause symptoms started. As she continued to take that journey round her body every day so the hot flushes and night sweats came less often, and not as badly. “They’re not gone completely,” she told me “but they’re so much better. It’s normal again not to have them. They don’t dominate my life anymore.”
* Lisa’s real identity has been protected, and she is happy to share her story.
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