What is the menopause?

The menopause, also known as “the change”, is something all women go through, but is something that sometimes women don’t like to talk about. It’s a scary time for some people, knowing that your body is going through all sorts of changes, and people can have many different symptoms to many varying degrees. I’ll discuss the stages and implications of menopause in this two-part series.

The menopause actually means the date of your last ever period and it signals the end of a women’s reproductive life, or in other words, no more eggs are produced by your ovaries and no more oestrogen and progesterone is made by your body.

The time that leads up to this stage is called the “perimenopausal stage” and it is during this time that you will start to experience a change in your hormones – this is when women start experiencing symptoms (described below).

The “post menopausal” stage is the time from your last ever period onwards.

What age does the menopause occur?

The average age that most women will have gone through the menopause is 51. However it can range from 45-55 years old. If you think you are going through the menopause and you are younger than 45 it is important to see your GP as you will need to chat with them about potential implications of this.

Know the symptoms

There are many different symptoms that occur when you are going through the menopause and every woman will experience them differently. Some women will have very few symptoms and will experience them very mildly and for a very short period of time.

However some women may experience many symptoms and these might affect them quite severely. Usually the symptoms last a couple of years or so. In some people, however, the symptoms can go on for many years, sometimes long after their periods have ended and they have actually gone through the menopause.

The symptoms are due to a lack of oestrogen and can include:

  • Change in periods
  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes
  • Poor sleep
  • Urinary symptoms
  • Pain on intercourse
  • Loss of libido
  • Dry skin
  • Increased facial hair

Treatments

There are many different treatments available to help with the many symptoms of the menopause and these can be started even when you are still having periods (meaning you don’t have to wait till you think you have had your last period to start these!) The most widely known treatment is HRT, but there are other treatments out there too… as there are quite a few I will discuss these in the next article!

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