For many women the menopause can be a difficult time and at BMI The Park Hospital, we have the expertise and experience to help you through it.
If you think you may be experiencing menopausal symptoms, whatever your age, you can see one of our consultant gynaecologists for an initial consultation and advice. They can advise you on which treatment options will suit you best, taking you through all the benefits and risks specific to your own individual circumstances.
What is the menopause?
The term menopause describes the changes a woman experiences as she stops menstruating. Menopause happens when the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, which regulates menstruation and will eventually stop egg production.
Menopause is usually preceded by the peri-menopause (the time preceding the menopause) and is not a sudden onset of symptoms. The peri-menopause phase can vary in length from woman to woman and everybody experiences symptoms differently including both physical and emotional changes and symptoms.
The menopause is usually diagnosed when a woman has not had a period for a year; it is a natural part of aging. While in the UK the average age of menopause is 51 years, around 1 in 100 women will experience the menopause before the age of the 40 – this is called “premature menopause”. Cancer treatment or other underlying medical conditions can also cause the menopause.
How can you tell if you are menopausal?
Eight out of ten women will experience some symptoms leading up to the menopause and of these; approximately 50% of women will find their symptoms difficult to deal with.1
Common symptoms of the menopause include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty to concentrate (foggy or cloudy brain)
- Low mood or depression
- Irregular bleeding
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort
- Urinary urgency
- Decrease in libido
- Formication – feeling like your skin is crawling
Treating the menopause
A number of treatments are available for women going through the menopause, some with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and some without.
The recent NICE guidance published in November 2015 highlights that HRT protects against osteoporosis and there is some evidence that is might offer protection against dementia. The guidance also discusses risk of breast cancer and this risk is thought to be very low with HRT.
HRT works by replacing oestrogen which is lost when the ovaries cease to function, and is usually effective in treating some of the more common menopausal symptoms.
There are several ways of taking HRT such as patches, tablets, implants and gels, and safety and choice will be considered in choosing the most appropriate form.
Hormone replacement therapy has been known to be associated with some risks and an individual risk assessment will be carried out and explained. If a woman does not wish to take HRT, or cannot for medical reasons, alternative treatments can be offered to ease the symptoms experienced.
All treatments are monitored in order to make sure that they are having the desired effect. Each patient will initially be placed on a 3 month trial and then followed up to understand effectiveness of symptom control and changes made as required. Once a successful treatment plan is agreed ongoing follow up will ensure your symptoms are managed safely and effectively.
Mr Clive Gie has a special interest in the menopause and is a member of the British Menopause Society. Further patient information can be found on the Women’s Health Concern website, an arm of the British Menopause Society.
For more information about the Menopause Clinic and other gynaecology services and treatments available at BMI The Park Hospital please call us on 01159 662000 or make an online enquiry.
1 NICE guidelines ; Menopause: diagnosis and management, June 2015