Women go through menopause when their ovaries stop producing eggs along with the sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Periods become infrequent and then stop completely. The average age of the menopause in the UK is 50-51 years.
What are the Symptoms of Menopause?
The commonest menopause symptoms are hot flushes and night sweats, interrupted sleep pattern, mood swings, poor concentration, tiredness, muscle and joint pains, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can start a few years before the menopause as ovarian function starts to decrease and can continue for up to 10 years after the menopause. In addition, the loss of the sex hormones can lead to osteoporosis and increased risk of heart disease. Well, how does a woman put up with all of these symptoms and still be expected to function as normal over this time span!
Women are living longer and also having to work longer before they are eligible for their pension. Up to 70% of women are very troubled by their menopause symptoms and it affects their ability to do their jobs and enjoy a good quality of life. Many women still think that they just have to ‘put up with it’. Some women do seek professional help but are told that they are depressed. If you are in the right age range, have the above symptoms, then you may well be going through the menopause.
For many women, replacing the sex hormones produced by the ovaries, will resolve their symptoms. This is known as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). It is the best treatment for symptoms of the menopause. There are risks associated with taking HRT, the most well-known risks are breast cancer, venous thromboembolism (blood clots in your blood vessels) and strokes. However, these risks are small and need to be balanced against quality of life.
As a general rule, the benefits of HRT tend to exceed the risks for women up to age 60. Between age 60 to 70 the risks cancel out the benefits. After age 70 the risks tend to exceed the benefits. Another downside to HRT is that when it is stopped, menopausal symptoms will return. These rebound menopausal symptoms can be managed by weaning off HRT gradually. Each woman will have to make their own decision about whether to take HRT or not.
What can I do to help relieve symptoms?
Other measures that can help with menopausal symptoms are dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Women can increase the amount of plant derived oestrogen in their diet from soya based products, use a fan and do regular weight bearing exercise such as walking to help prevent osteoporosis.
This is also a good time to have a health care check and review with your healthcare professional. Many GP’s have an interest in the menopause and HRT. They can also check if you have raised blood pressure and assess your future cardiovascular/osteoporosis risks. For women with more complex health problems who are considering HRT, your GP can refer you to a specialist Menopause Consultant at One Ashford Hospital.
Our Consultant Gynaecologists are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating women who are experiencing menopause symptoms, with our medical team and nursing staff offering support in a sensitive and caring manner at all times.
To make an appointment to see a Consultant Gynaecologist consultant, please contact the reservations team on 01233 364 036 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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