For many women the menopause can be a difficult time and at BMI The Lancaster Hospital, we have the expertise and experience to help you through it.
What is the menopause?
The menopause, sometimes referred to as “the change”, is the name given to the end of menstruation (periods). The ovaries stop producing the female sex hormone oestrogen, which regulates menstruation and the ovaries will stop producing eggs well before the complete cessation of periods. Menopause is not of sudden onset and it is usually preceded by a time leading up to the menopause, which is of variable length, when women may experience both physical and emotional changes, this is known as the peri-menopause.
The menopause is usually diagnosed when a woman has not had a period for a year and it can also be confirmed by hormonal tests. The average age of menopause is 51 years however; there are cases when it occurs much earlier than that, such as before the age of 40 and this is known as premature menopause. Some women reach the menopause without seeking medical help however; if a woman has severe or distressing symptoms there are treatments available.
How do you know if you are menopausal?
Eight out of ten women experience symptoms leading up to the menopause and of these, approximately 50% of women will find their symptoms difficult to deal with.* The first symptom of the peri-menopause is usually a change to the menstrual pattern and the period begins to appear infrequent.
Common symptoms of the menopause include:
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Sleep disturbance
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Difficulty to concentrate
- Mood and emotional changes
- Vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort
- Urinary tract symptoms, such as those of cystitis
- A decrease in libido
Treating the menopause
There are a number of treatments for the menopause, with or without hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
HRT can be beneficial because it works by replacing oestrogen in the body during the approach to menopause, which is always effective in treating several of the most common menopausal symptoms and can also help to prevent osteoporosis (brittle bones). HRT has been known to be associated with some risks and an individual risk assessment will be carried out and explained.
There are many ways of taking HRT and women will usually be able to be offered a choice as to whether to take it or not and the most appropriate one, should they wish to consider it.
If a woman does not wish to take HRT, or cannot for certain medical reasons, then there are other treatments we can suggest which may ease the different symptoms.
All treatments need to be monitored in order to make sure that they are having the desired effect.
If the symptoms are mild we can advise you on possible ways to control them by changing your diet and lifestyle.
How BMI The Lancaster Hospital can help
If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms and finding them difficult to deal with you can see our Menopause Specialist Dr Elaine Pearson who will advise you about which treatment will suit you best and discuss the benefits and risks taking into account your own individual circumstances.
For further information regarding Menopause please contact 01524 62345.
* NHS Direct, www.nhsdirect.co.uk