The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs in women between 45 and 55 years of age. The woman stops having periods and her ovaries lose their reproductive function. It is a change in hormones that stimulates the process.
Specifically, it is a reduction of estrogen levels in the body that causes it to behave differently. This is combined with a decrease in the number of eggs in the ovaries and a diminishing ability to conceive.
To offer guidance and understanding in this area, and to support with the symptoms related to the menopause, we’ve provided the below guide.
What are the symptoms around menopause?
It isn’t always straightforward to determine whether or not someone has started the menopause. However, there are a list of symptoms that typically mark the start of the biological process:
- Hot flashes – sudden feelings of heat that spread through the body, possibly accompanied by sweating and heart palpitations.
- Night sweats – when you sweat excessively through nightwear and bedding, regardless of room temperature.
- Vaginal dryness – soreness and discomfort around the vagina caused by a change in the amount of vaginal discharge or fluid.
- Insomnia – difficulty sleeping and finding yourself awake at multiple times throughout the night.
- Low mood or depression – intense sadness or anxiousness.
- Loss of libido – a lack of desire for sexual activity.
- Clouded mind – difficulty concentrating and remembering things.
- Thinning hair – extreme changes in hormone levels has been known to cause some women to experience hair loss.
These symptoms usually start a few months or even years before your periods stop. For some women, these symptoms can persist after the change – referred to as the ‘perimenopause’.
Consulting your doctor if you believe you have entered this phase allows them to provide more clarity on symptoms and their connection to the change in your body.
When does menopause start?
As mentioned above, the average age for the menopause to start is between 45 and 55. However, for some women, the process can occur much sooner. Approximately 1 in every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 29 and 1 in every 100 women between the ages of 30 and 39 are affected by premature ovarian failure.
Essentially this means that some younger women are starting the process earlier and losing their ability to have children naturally – long before the national average of 51. A woman affected by premature ovarian failure, or premature menopause, may still have follicles to support and release eggs, but a depletion or dysfunction causes periods to become irregular.
Usually, the cause of the early menopause is not determined. However, there are a number of conditions which are linked to premature ovarian failure. These include but are not limited to:
- Autoimmune disorder – a condition where your immune system confuses the harmful cells in your body and attacks healthy cells.
- Hysterectomy – the removal of both ovaries.
- As a result of radiation or chemotherapy – form of treatment used to combat cancer cells.
- Thyroid dysfunction – a gland that influences metabolic processes, producing too little or too many hormones.
- Turner syndrome – a disorder in 1 of every 2,000 baby girls resulting in one normal X sex chromosome, not two.
- Viral infection – harmful viruses in the body that can attack healthy cells.
The vast majority of women will notice their first sign of menopause in the pattern of their periods. They may be unusually light or heavy and the frequency will begin to change. On average, these symptoms will then last around 4.5 years from your last period.
In fact, 8 in 10 women have symptoms before their last period, extending the total duration of menopause to 7.4 years.
Is there hormone treatment available?
There is no need for immediate medical treatment if you are experiencing the menopause at a natural time. However, a number of women choose to seek relief from ongoing symptoms and subsequent discomfort.
One of the most effective methods of treating menopause symptoms is estrogen medication. Premarin is one such form of estrogen medication prescribed by doctors. The solution comes in the form of tablets, injections or cream and is considered one of the most effective methods of relieving symptoms.
Unlike the other solutions, Premarin Vaginal Cream applies estrogen directly to the area, helping rebuild vaginal tissue and supporting your sexual routine. It also assists in urination if you are suffering from pain when using the bathroom.
Aside from this, other non-invasive forms of relief include:
- Hormone replacement therapy – helping to reduce night sweats, dryness and boost libido, but also prevent bone weakening – using a combination of both progesterone and estrogen, and occasionally testosterone.
- Anti-depressants – helping to ease the burning of hot flashes and the emotional imbalances created by the change.
Remember that, before you research any of the medical solutions above, you should consult your doctor. Speaking to a professional at the perimenopause stage allows them to recommend medication that aligns with the severity of your symptoms.
At Medix, our pharmacists take the time to understand your symptoms and work with you to provide a tailored solution that gives you back control of your body. We can assist in the relief of all symptoms associated with the menopause, so speak to a member of the team today for a recommendation.