If you are a lady of a certain age, you may be wondering when you will go through the menopause and what that will entail. Hopefully, this article will have all the facts and advice you require to answer any worries or provide practical solutions to questions you might have. So first up, let’s look at the menopause in detail:
Women experience the menopause when the female hormone levels of oestrogen start to drop. The ovaries stop releasing an egg each month and menstruation will end. In some women menstruation ends gradually, in others it will be abrupt. The average age for a woman to go through the menopause is around early 50’s, but some can start from mid 40’s and as late as 55. Periods may become lighter, heavier, irregular or more painful. You may start to get night sweats and hot flushes and your sleep pattern could be disturbed. You may find that your skin becomes flaky and dry and you might get irritated down below. You could also see an increase in urine infections and you might want to go to the loo more frequently. You could feel low in yourself and have unexplained aches in your joints and feel tired for no reason. The process of going through the menopause is typically slow and tedious but there is an end in sight and there are solutions to help you through it.
The first port of call when it comes to the menopause. HRT stands for hormone replacement treatment and replaces the hormone oestrogen that is lacking in the body. There are risks associated with taking HRT, namely a small increase of the risk of developing breast cancer but this varies between women and for each woman, from year to year depending on presence or not of symptoms, other medical history and number of years that HRT has been taken. Typically though, if you go through the menopause early (before age 45) or prematurely (before age 40), the benefits of taking HRT up to at least age 50 far outweigh the risks. If you are under 60 and go through the menopause, the benefits also outweigh the risks. It is only once you get to 60+ and have other ailments, such as gall bladder disease, risk of stroke or blood clots that problems begin.
Due to some increased risks to breast cancer, some women prefer to find alternative sources to HRT. Herbal remedies such as Black Cohosh are useful and are licensed for the symptoms of the menopause, especially hot flushes and night sweats. Agnus castus is another herbal remedy that can work for some women experiencing the menopause. Also a healthy diet and regular exercise have been shown to help stave off oestoporosis and can increase libido. To combat hot flushes you can try a non HRT drug called Clonidine, (used formerly to treat blood pressure), beta blockers such as propranolol, SSRI medication used for depression and anxiety and even an anti epileptic drug – Gabapentin. These are prescription prescribed so you would have to see your doctor.
Many women experience vaginal dryness during the menopause, which can have a knock on effect with their sex life. You can tackle this dryness with specific products such as Replens and use a water based gel for sex. There is also an HRT cream which can be applied topically which releases the hormones exactly where it needs to go.
The important thing is that if you think you are starting the menopause or going through it, to see your doctor, whether you are experiencing symptoms or not. For more information about the menopause please visit Menopause Matters.