Introduction to Menopause
Menopause is when women begin to end their periods and it is a completely natural process.
What is the Menopause?
Menopause is when women begin to end their periods and it is a completely natural process. After the menopause, women are no longer able to become pregnant naturally. This process typically lasts for a few months to years before ending completely.
The menopause usually occurs around the ages of 45 to 55 and it associated with a steady decline in the amount of oestrogen in a women’s body. Some women can experience short menopause and/or premature menopause, occurring before the age of 40.
What are the causes for Menopause?
The menopause are a completely natural part of women’s lives. They occur when eggs run out and when there can therefore be no more periods. Certain women can experience unusually early menopause and/or worse side effects throughout the menopause. The cause of the symptoms is to do with a general decline in the amount of oestrogen in the body.
What are the symptoms of Menopause?
The majority of women experience symptoms throughout the menopause. They can begin before it even starts and last for some time afterwards. The mean time of symptom duration from the last period is around four years (this varies for different women). The symptoms vary but generally will involve changes to your periods, whether that be the frequency, duration or amount of blood lost.
80% of women experience other symptoms that are usually body-wide. These include hot flushes, sweating at night, trouble sleeping, headaches, changes in mood, reduced concentration and memory, joint pain, reduced amounts of muscle, infections, vaginal discomfort, pain, dryness, itching and a reduced sex drive.
As the menopause results in lower levels of oestrogen, it can predispose you to developing conditions such as osteoporosis (weak bones), which is something to be aware of and to discuss with the doctor.
How is the Menopause treated?
Some women wish to be treated if they are experiencing symptoms that are affecting them more than they should. As the menopause symptoms are caused by a decline in oestrogen, it can be replenished with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). These tablets replace the hormone levels and relieve many of the common symptoms. There are risks and benefits and your doctor will discuss these with you. The main risk of note, is the link with breast cancer development. The medication depends on whether you have had a hysterectomy and there are varying methods of taking the medication – tablets, patches, gels or implants.
Other symptoms may still exist and these can be managed through therapy, further medications (antidepressants, hypertension medication), lifestyle advice and education.