Menopause can be a very challenging time for some women. It can be very confusing and full of anxiety and distress due to the various body changes and symptoms that can accompany it. This is a time when your body deserves some tender loving care and a lot of support and reassurance by an expert gynaecologist.
The menopause or ‘the end of the periods’ is something all women go through. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Some women will go through a problem-free menopause, but others will experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe. For all women the menopause is a personal experience, not just a medical condition.
For most women it will be a natural process, however, it can also be caused by surgery or by treatments for cancer, including chemotherapy, ovarian ablation and hormone therapy. In rare instances, the hormonal system fails at an early age and the ovaries lose their normal function (premature ovarian Insufficiency).
Menopause is associated with reduced production of oestrogens by the ovaries and this changes the way the body behaves. The most common symptom of the menopause is hot flushes. Other common symptoms include night sweats, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness, irritated skin, more frequent urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections, low mood and a reduced interest in sex.
Lack of oestrogens can affect many parts of the body, including the strength and density of bones, increasing the risk of the bone-thinning disease called osteoporosis. It also affects the brain, causing changes in emotional well-being, and the skin, influencing its elasticity and thickness. After the menopause women are more vulnerable to heart disease and stroke.
Confirmation that the menopause has actually happened can be challenging. An evaluation according to symptoms, pattern of periods, imaging, blood tests and medical record is necessary.
There are many ways to relieve the symptoms and improve drastically the quality of life of menopausal women. These include lifestyle changes, complementary and alternative therapies as well as hormone replacement therapy (HRT).