Menopause: 13 Things Every Woman Should Know
1.What is Menopause?
Women past a certain age will experience menopause. Menopause is defined as having no menstrual period for one year. The age you experience it can vary, but it typically occurs in your late 40s or early 50s.
Menopause can cause many changes in your body. The symptoms are the result of a decreased production of oestrogen and progesterone in your ovaries. Symptoms may include hot flushes, weight gain, or vaginal dryness. Vaginal atrophy contributes to vagina dryness. With this, there can be inflammation and thinning of the vaginal tissues which adds to uncomfortable intercourse.Menopause can also increase your risk for certain conditions like osteoporosis.
2.What age will I be when I go through Menopause?
The average age for onset of menopause is 51. The majority of women stop having periods somewhere between ages 45 to 55. The beginning stages of declining ovary function can start years before that in some women. Others will continue to have menstrual periods into their late 50s.
The age of menopause is genetically determined, but things such as smoking or chemotherapy can accelerate ovary decline, resulting in earlier menopause.
3.What’s the difference between Perimenopause and Menopause?
Perimenopause refers to the period of time right before menopause begins.
During perimenopause, your body is beginning the transition into menopause. That means that hormone production from your ovaries is beginning to decline. You may begin to experience some symptoms commonly associated with menopause, like hot flushes. Your menstrual cycle may become irregular, but it won’t cease during the perimenopause stage.
Once you completely stop having a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months, you’ve entered menopause.
4.What symptoms are caused by reduced levels of oestrogen in my body?
About 75 percent of women experience hot flushes during menopause, making them the most common symptom experienced by menopausal women. Hot flashes can occur during the day or at night. Some women may also experience muscle and joint pain, known as arthralgia, or mood swings.
It may be difficult to determine whether these symptoms are caused by shifts in your hormones, life circumstances, or the ageing process itself.
5.When do I know that I’m having a hot flush?
During a hot flush, you’ll likely feel your body temperature rise. Hot flashes affect the top half of your body, and your skin may even turn red in colour or become blotchy. This rush of heat could lead to sweating, heart palpitations, and feelings of dizziness. After the hot flush, you may feel cold.
Hot flushes may come on daily or even multiple times a day. You may experience them over the course of a year or even several years.
Being overweight and smoking may also make hot flushes worse.
6.How does menopause affect my bone health?
The decline in oestrogen production can affect the amount of calcium in your bones. This can cause significant decreases in bone density, leading to a condition known as osteoporosis. It can also make you more susceptible to hip, spine, and other bone fractures. Many women experience accelerated bone loss the first few years after their last menstrual period.
To keep your bones healthy:
- Take vitamin D supplements.
- Exercise regularly and include weight training in your exercise routine
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Avoid smoking.
A number of prescription medications are available for the treatment of osteoporosis.
7.Is heart disease linked to Menopause?
Conditions related to your heart may arise during menopause, such as dizziness or cardiac palpitations. Decreased oestrogen levels can prevent your body from retaining flexible arteries. This can impact blood flow.
Watching your weight, eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising, and not smoking can reduce your chances of developing heart conditions.
8.Will I gain weight when I experience menopause?
Changes in your hormone levels may cause you to gain weight. However, ageing can also contribute to weight gain.
Focus on maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and practising other healthy habits to help control your weight. Being overweight can increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
For more information on weight management read our article Winning the Weight Battle After Menopause
9.Will I experience the same symptoms as my mother, sister or other close relatives?
The symptoms of menopause vary from one woman to another, even in the same families. The age and rate of decline of ovary function differ tremendously. This means you’ll need to manage your menopause individually. What worked for your mother or relative may not work for you.
10.How will I know if I’m going through menopause if I’ve had a hysterectomy (but not had my ovaries removed)?
If your uterus was surgically removed through a hysterectomy, you may not know you’re going through menopause unless you experience hot flushes.
This can also happen if you’ve had an endometrial ablation and your ovaries weren’t removed. Endometrial ablation is the removal of the lining of your uterus as treatment for heavy menstruation.
If you aren’t having any symptoms, a blood test can determine if your ovaries are still functioning. This test can be used to help doctors find out your oestrogen level, which may be beneficial if you’re at risk of osteoporosis. That’s because knowing your oestrogen status may be important in determining whether you need a bone density assessment.
11. Is hormone replacement a safe option for management of menopausal problems?
Several hormone therapies are TGA approved for treatment of hot flushes and prevention of bone loss. The benefits and risks vary depending on the severity of your hot flushes and bone loss, and your health. These therapies may not be right for you.
Finding the best treatment options for Menopause can be confusing. There is a lot of information available from all sorts of media, some of it misleading. We have put together some of the more relevant treatment options that we are able to provide at Como Diagnostic.
(For more information regarding benefits & risks associated with HRT – click here)
Hormone Replacemnt Therapy also known as Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT) is a form of hormone therapy which is used to treat symptoms associated with menopause in women. It is particularly effective in alleviating hot flushes. The main types are based on hormones,such as oestrogen, progesterone & testosterone that occur naturally in the body.
Types of HRT
Bio-Identical hormones are specifically compounded by a compounding pharmacist and can be prescribed at the lowest effective dose to reduce symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and disturbed sleep.Bio-identical hormones can be compounded to specific dosage amounts and dosage forms including capsules, topical creams and gels, suppositories and sublingual lozenges.
Standardised Pharmaceutical HRT
Standardised Pharmaceutical HRT of pre-set dosages of hormones are effective in reducing symptoms of menopause and are available in a number of different forms – capsule, skin patch, cream etc.
12. Are There Non-Hormonal Prescription Medications Available for Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms?
Non-Hormonal Prescription Medicine
There is a select group of women for whom hormonal treatment is not considered safe or for whom hormone supplementation is not effective for relieving hot flushes. In cases such as these some anti-depressants known as SSRIs and nerve pain medication such as Gabapentin have been shown to be effective in relieving hot flushes. For more information click here
13. What Elements of My Lifestyle Impact Menopause?
There is no doubt that good nutrition and a modest exercise routine greatly enhances health and well being not just at Menopause but at any stage of life and should form a fundamental part of one’s daily routine.
There is strong evidence to suggest that a low carb Mediterranean diet can assist with weight loss and weight maintenance (when matched to your caloric needs) and is particularly effective for the reduction of gynoid pattern fat deposit (abdominal and fatty liver).
Exercise may not directly help your hot flushes and night sweats, but it can help to maintain healthy weight and this can decrease the severity of your symptoms.
Exercise has many mental and physical benefits and builds more muscle mass. This extra muscle burns more energy even when you are resting. Exercise can also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a possibility for some menopausal women.
You will get the best benefit if you incorporate three types of movement into your day:
- aerobic activity for heart health – climbing stairs, walking the dog and gardening all help to build more movement into your day
- flexibility training such as stretching, yoga or Pilates improve both flexibility and balance
- strength training helps to build bone and muscle and can include simple body weight exercises you can do at home
Dr. Sandi has devoted much of her career in medical practice to women’s health and management of Menopause. Dr. Sandi’s highly personalised approach and sound medical knowledge in the field of HRT as well as her focus on lifestyle and preventative medicine has been instrumental in assisting many hundreds of women through this period in their lives. Yes, your body does change as you transition through Menopause but you can remain healthy, youthful, vital and lean well into your mature years and beyond. If you would like to know more
Call us on 03 926 4300 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is general in nature only and should not be relied upon as medical advice. For further information please contact our clinic or your own medical practitioner.