Menopause occurs when our ovaries stop producing oestrogen and as a result our periods slow down and eventually stop. When we haven’t had a period for 12 months we are described as post-menopausal. The average age is 51 but it can begin from around 48-55 years of age. While we are approaching that time, and periods are less regular we may be described as being perimenopausal.
Other symptoms that can occur with menopause are hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes, reduced libido, hair thinning and dryness of skin. These symptoms vary from person to person and from mild to more debilitating. These can pass quickly or can last for up to five years.
There are blood tests that can be run to help determine where you are in the process, but they are not always clear cut, and we often need to repeat them every 6 months.
Many women pass through this transition easily but for others it can be quite challenging. There are various options which can assist in managing menopause, from natural remedies, to non-hormonal prescription medications, through to HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Regular exercise helps enormously, both for mood as well as for its bone strengthening benefits. Healthy eating & avoiding smoking and excess alcohol are also key.
The important thing to do is to chat with friends who are in a similar stage of life as well as letting your GP know, so together you can work to make this as smooth a transition as possible
Contributor: Dr Susan Ford – Medical Doctor at FEMINA HEALTH