‘My mission is to help women get through this time of transition as smoothly as possible’ -Tania Adib
Women are speaking up about the menopause at last – the time of life when women stop producing eggs and their periods cease, has traditionally been something we’ve been a little shy about discussing openly, preferring to shroud it in euphemism, referring to it as ‘the change or ‘that time of life’ and keeping quiet about sometimes debilitating symptoms.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
|Hot flushes||Night sweats|
|Irregular and/ or heavy periods||Mood swings|
|Vaginal dryness||Stress incontinence|
|Lack of sex drive||Headaches|
|Breast tenderness||Joint pain|
|Memory problems||Weight gain|
|Loss of bone density|
More unusual symptoms of menopause
|Burning mouth||Electric shocks|
|Metallic taste/ gum problems||Muscle tension|
|Itchy skin||Hair loss|
|Tingling in the feet, hands,arms and legs||Brittle nails|
|Excessive sweating/ Changes to body odour|
Perhaps one of the reasons there has been a veil of silence over the menopause is that as recently as 100 years ago women didn't live much past the age of 50. Now, thankfully, most of us will live far longer. With the aid of the latest HRT and other treatment innovations, alongside good diet and a holistic approach, there is no reason for women to be held back by hot flushes, mood swings or other menopause-related conditions.
So, what exactly is the menopause?
It’s diagnosed when a woman hasn’t menstruated in 12 consecutive months and usually begins between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age of the menopause in the UK being 51. It can happen earlier – doctors refer to early menopause, before the age of 45, as premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). At the other end of the scale, some women carry on menstruating until their 60s.
The word menopause literally translates as the last day of menstruation, but as marvellous as it would be if was just a one-day event, there’s a bit more to it than that.
When can symptoms start?
You can begin to feel symptoms coming on years before your periods stop. This time is known as the perimenopause and lasts on average for four years. Some women will be more fortunate and just experience a few months. Unfortunately, even after you’ve had your last period, the effects don’t stop there. Research has shown the average time frequent menopausal symptoms lasted was 7.4 years. For some women, they can last more than ten years.
Menopausal symptoms are wide-ranging as oestrogen and progesterone levels alter – periods may become irregular or heavier, sleep issues may occur with night sweats and chills; hot flushes can creep up at any time, causing distress and embarrassment. Women may notice mood swings. When women’s oestrogen starts to deplete, their hair can thin, weight can pile on and breasts can lose their fullness; vaginal dryness and dropping libido can of course affect relationships and confidence. HRT can alleviate all of these issues.
HRT for menopause
Treating the menopause isn’t just about ‘getting through’ the symptoms, it’s also about protecting your long-term health.
HRT can protect your bones and help prevent osteoporosis, a disease which generally affects more women and can leave sufferers vulnerable to fractures and sadly, early higher mortality. There is also good evidence that HRT can help protect the heart and brain as we age. It lowers the incidence of diabetes and depression. Women receiving hormonal treatment report less fatigue and low mood. Concerns have been raised about the links between HRT and breast cancer. A recent re-evaluation of the data has shown these risks were misunderstood and for the vast majority of women, HRT is, when carefully prescribed by a menopause expert, safe.
Of course, whatever route women take to ease menopausal symptoms will be dependent on their individual circumstances, which is why it’s vital to seek advice from a specialist gynaecologist with expertise in menopause. For example, some women, such as those who have had hormone-sensitive cancer, may not be able to take HRT. Thankfully, the latest cutting-edge treatments, such as laser and biothermal techniques, alongside a holistic approach, can be very helpful.
We are all individuals, which is why it is vital for each woman to have a bespoke, tailormade programme designed to fit around her.