‘I am totally in denial of my age!’ Dame Kelly Holmes, 53, details perimenopause struggles including ‘extreme body pains’ as she seeks advice on HRT
Kelly Holmes candidly detailed her struggles with perimenopause as she appeared on Thursday’s Loose Women.
The athlete, 53, said she was ‘totally in denial of her age’ as she faced the health problems before detailing some of her symptoms.
She said it has been experiencing ‘extreme body pains’, sweats and anxiety and was reaching out for advice on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) – a treatment to relieve symptoms.
Perimenopause is the transitional period before menopause, when women’s hormone levels start to change, but before their periods have stopped for a full 12 months – therefore reaching menopause. The NHS says perimenopause usually starts between 45 and 55.
During it, hormone levels change and ovaries start to produce fewer eggs. Symptoms can include hot flushes and night sweats, headaches, dizziness, aches and pains, joint and muscle pain, and difficulty sleeping.
Honest: Kelly Holmes candidly detailed her struggles with perimenopause as she appeared on Thursday’s Loose Women
Tough: The athlete, 53, said she was ‘totally in denial of her age’ as she faced the health problems before detailing some of her symptoms
Speaking to the presenters on the ITV daytime show, including Judi Love, she said: ‘It’s been a serious thing. I am totally in denial of my age. I still put 39 on my exercise machine.
‘I have had extreme body pains and I have so many aches and pains. I go to the gym and I’m so much weaker than I have ever been.
‘I was told to go to the doctors and it said I had low oestrogen and I was like I don’t want to take pills. As a former athlete I was like no.
‘The other things are like anxiety, sleep, I’m emotional, sweats, it really affects me. I don’t know if it will change.
She continued: ‘People use to say about the HRT but what am I doing to help myself. I’ve been getting advice, I’ve been taking vitamins and I’m weight training.
‘We lose out muscle mass, I have always trained and I am weaker but by doing that it can help prevent injury. You need help from other people.’
It comes after last week Dame Kelly revealed that the debilitating symptoms of the perimenopause are ‘killing’ her.
The double Olympic champion said she is experiencing ‘constant pain’ and night sweats.
Health: She said it has been experiencing ‘extreme body pains’, sweats and anxiety and was reaching out for advice on HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
Chat: Speaking to the presenters on the ITV daytime show, including Judi Love, she said: ‘It’s been a serious thing. I am totally in denial of my age. I still put 39 on my exercise machine’
She said: ‘I think perimenopause is killing me at the moment. As much as I’m in denial, it definitely has had an effect on my body.’
She described her symptoms as ‘body aches, pains, like constant pain throughout the body, feeling lethargic’.
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It’s the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in women’s 40s, but can start in their 30s or even earlier.
Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, this drop in estrogen speeds up. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms.
The average length of perimenopause is 4 years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends when women have gone 12 months without having their period.
Kelly added; ‘Last week, I started getting the sweats, which I’m not happy about, only at night. I’m thinking, “This isn’t good”. And it makes you more irritable. You feel like you’re not yourself.’
The Nuffield Health ambassador – who retired from professional athletics in 2005 after doing the historic double by taking Olympic gold in both the 800m and 1500m in Athens – was talking as the health charity published a major survey.
Dame Kelly, who backs the charity’s Find 5 campaign which encourages people to take just an extra five minutes a day for their health, said the perimenopause is particularly tough ‘as someone who is in tune with their body’.
She said: ‘I think I’m in denial of age completely.’
‘Doing some exercise is really important for people with perimenopause. You do as much as you can to combat it, so I go in the gym,’ she said.
Kelly does three to four weights sessions a week and some running – although with a recent history of back problems she is careful not to overdo it.
But she added: ‘Sometimes I feel so knackered, it’s easy just to not do it. I give myself more rest these days than I’ve ever given, because I think that’s really important.
‘I take magnesium because I’m now sweating so I don’t want to get cramps. I’m thinking about upping my proteins,’ she added.
Doing her bit: Kelly previously said the perimenopause is particularly tough ‘as someone who is in tune with their body’ (pictured winning the 800m at the Olympics in Athens in 2004)
Moving: Dame Kelly does three to four weights sessions a week and some running – although with a recent history of back problems she is careful not to overdo it – pictured last month
Mental health is less often discussed when it comes to perimenopause and menopause.
But Dame Kelly, who has been open about her own past mental health struggles, said: ‘The one thing with the hormonal changes – and men get it as well at certain ages – hormonal changes in the body can really affect your mental health.
‘And I think women have to understand how so connected and interconnected your mental and physical health [are], because if one is not in tune, the other one will be affected, whatever way around that is.
‘When you feel your body’s a mess, that’s going to affect your head. But if you go into the gym or you go and do some exercises, at least you are doing it knowing that you’re benefiting yourself by doing it – even if those changes are still happening.’
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