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Know the Facts About…the Menopause

by Karen Rollins Mar 11, 2019

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Most women usually experience the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 although some can go through it before the age of 40 which is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.

The menopause is a natural process that occurs when women produce less female hormones, called oestrogen, as they get older.

During this time many women will experience menopausal symptoms, and for some, these will be severe and have a significant impact on their daily life.

What is the menopause?

The menopause is when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs every month and she does not have any periods.

There are three stages to the process called perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.

The first stage is when periods start to become less frequent over a few months or years and a woman starts having menopausal symptoms.

The second stage is when menstruation has completely stopped for at least a year.

The third stage is when symptoms begin to ease off, but health risks related to the loss of estrogen increase.

What are the symptoms?

One of the most common symptoms women experience during the menopause are hot flashes. This is where a sudden and uncomfortable feeling of warmth spreads over the top half of your body causing you to blush and sweat. The severity of hot flashes varies for each individual.

Some other common symptoms around the time of menopause include:

*Irregular or skipped periods

*Mood swings and anxiety

*Fatigue

*Insomnia

*Problems with memory and concentration

*Depression

*Night sweats

*Headaches

*Joint and muscle aches and pains

*Racing heart

*Reduced sex drive

*Bladder control problems

*Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex

How is the menopause treated?

There are various treatments available, along with lifestyle changes which can help to reduce the impact of the menopause, but you must discuss them with your GP to find out which is best for you along with the associated risks.

Three of the most common treatments include:

*Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – this comes in the form of skin patches, gels, tablets and implants. This treatment relieves menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen.

*Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – involves talking about your problems with a therapist which can help if you are suffering from anxiety, low mood or depression.

*Staying fit through regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet can improve some menopausal symptoms and help you to feel good about yourself and your body.

You should talk to your doctor if you think that you are going through the menopause and the symptoms are interfering with your daily life.

Sources: NHS UK / WebMD / Healthline