Braving the menopause
The menopause is a stressful time for the majority of women, affecting you both physically and mentally. Major changes are occurring in your body due to falling oestrogen levels and this can have a large impact on your health and wellbeing. There are many things you can do to help your symptoms but there is always treatment from various therapists and the NHS if you feel that you need it.
When does it occur?
The menopause occurs in most women in the UK between the ages of 45 to 55, with the average age being 51 years. One in 100 women is affected below the age of 40 and these are said to be suffering from premenopause. A small number of women continue to have periods up to and sometimes beyond 60 years, and this is classified as late-onset menopause.
Many women experience anxiety, irritability, mood swings, lack of concentration, feelings of sadness and even depression due to the menopause. This is often made worse by lack of sleep/disturbed sleep, another menopausal symptom, and also worries about elderly relatives, and teenage children. Relaxation, meditation and mindfulness can all help with this or you can get help from therapists and your doctor.
Vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort during sex are common symptoms. Vaginal lubricants/moisturisers can often help with this. Urinary tract infections tend to be more common, so see your doctor if this is happening. Loss of libido can also occur and there are therapists who can help with this.
Many women swear by Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). It relieves many of the symptoms, e.g. hot flushes and vaginal dryness, and helps with sleep problems and loss of drive. It also reduces the risk of osteoporosis (bone thinning). However in some women it is not suitable due to risk of strokes, and there are side effects such as breast tenderness and weight gain. There is also a small increased risk of breast cancer. But it should be remembered that there are many alternative measures that can be taken such as changes in your diet and also maintaining an exercise programme which can help along with ways to manage your stress levels.
Hot flushes (or flashes) are a common menopausal symptom, where a feeling of heat spreads throughout the body. They may also be associated with heart palpitations and sweating. Most women suffer with them for 6 months to 2 years but some have been known to continue experiencing them for 15 years! You may experience them occasionally or several times a day for around 5 minutes at a time. Some women hardly notice them but others find them awkward and embarrassing. You may find that avoiding spicy foods, monosodium glutamate and caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and some soft drinks actually helps.
We have a team of menopause experts across Surrey, ready to support you, whether you have a specific health concern or just want to better manage the menopause.