Understanding menopause and what to expect
Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels. It usually affects women between the ages of 45 and 55 and occurs after 12 consecutive months of no bleeding. But it can happen earlier or later, depending on your genes and lifestyle factors.
Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. During this time, your body starts to produce less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Premature menopause, also known as premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), is when a woman experiences menopause before the age of 40. It affects about 1% of women.
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing premature menopause, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can do tests to confirm the diagnosis and provide you with support.
- Changes to your periods (irregular periods, heavier or lighter periods, missed periods)
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Low mood
- Brain fog (problems with memory and concentration)
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during sex
- Urinary tract infections
- Muscle aches and joint pains
What Causes Menopause?
Menopause can happen naturally when your ovaries make less estrogen and progesterone. Eventually, they stop making these hormones altogether.
Other causes of menopause include:
- Surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy)
- Cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Certain genetic conditions
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): HRT is the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms.
- Prescribed alternatives to HRT: There are a number of medications that can be prescribed to help with specific menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and sleep problems.
- Alternative treatments: Some women find relief from menopausal symptoms using herbal remedies or other natural treatments. However, it is important to talk to your doctor before using any natural treatments, as they may interact with other medications you are taking.
- Lifestyle changes: There are a number of lifestyle changes that can help to improve overall health and well-being during menopause, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing stress.
- Other therapies: There are a number of other therapies that can be helpful for menopausal symptoms, such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and sex therapy.
Not sure whether you have menopause?
Menopause symptoms can vary in severity and duration from person to person. Some women experience only mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that interfere with their daily life.
Menopause Treatment Options
Which treatment option is right for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. It is important to talk to your doctor about your options so that you can develop a treatment plan that is best for you.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
HRT replaces the hormones that are lost during the menopause. It can be taken in a variety of forms, including pills, patches and gels. HRT is very effective at relieving menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and mood swings. It can also help prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of heart disease. However, HRT is not suitable for everyone. It is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT before deciding whether it is right for you.
Prescribed alternatives to HRT
There are a number of medications that can be prescribed to help with specific menopausal symptoms. For example, clonidine can help to reduce hot flashes, and gabapentin can help to improve sleep.
These medications are not specifically designed to treat menopausal symptoms, but they can be effective in some cases. However, it is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of these medications before taking them.
Some women find relief from menopausal symptoms using herbal remedies or other natural treatments. For example, black cohosh and evening primrose oil have both been shown to be effective in reducing hot flashes.
However, it is important to talk to your doctor before using any natural treatments, as they may interact with other medications you are taking.
There are a number of lifestyle changes that can help to improve overall health and well-being during menopause, such as:
- Eating a healthy diet: A healthy diet can help to improve mood, energy levels, and sleep quality. It can also help to control weight gain and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Exercising regularly: Exercise has many benefits for menopausal women, including improved mood, sleep quality, bone health, and cardiovascular health.
- Getting enough sleep: Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Getting enough sleep can help to improve mood, energy levels, and cognitive function.
- Managing stress: Stress can worsen menopausal symptoms. There are a number of stress management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing, that can be helpful.
There are a number of other therapies that can be helpful for menopausal symptoms, such as:
- Counseling: Counseling can help women to cope with the emotional and psychological changes associated with menopause.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that can help women to identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that are contributing to their symptoms.
- Sex therapy: Sex therapy can help couples to address sexual problems that may arise during menopause.
We may recommend specific blood tests to enhance our understanding of your hormones and your health. You can book the blood tests separately or as part of your consultation with a gynaecologist. Typically, blood test results are available within a few days.
Female Hormone Blood Test
Biomarkers: LH, FSH, Prolactin, Oestradiol (17-Beta)
Menopause Blood Test
Biomarkers: FSH, LH, Oestradiol (17-Beta), TSH, FT4
Menopause Check Blood Test
Biomarkers: FSH, LH, Oestradiol (17-Beta), TSH, FT4, Triglycerides, Cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, Non-HDL Cholesterol, Calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium
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