The word “menopause” refers to the final menstrual period a woman experiences.
At menopause, eggs are no longer produced by the ovary and production of oestrogen and progesterone declines.
The average age of the natural menopause is 45-55 years, but can occur much earlier or later. Menopause occurring before the age of 45 is called early menopause and before the age of 40 is premature menopause.
Menopause and its Impact on Your Body
Women complain of various changes in their body in the lead up to and during menopause. They may experience symptoms such as, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, joint and muscle aches, mood disturbance, poor sleep, hot flushes and frequent urinary symptoms.
These symptoms are largely due to lower levels of the hormone oestrogen. The treatment therefore mainly revolves around Hormone replacement, however there are alternative treatments and lifestyle changes that will assist most women in coping with the changes experienced during and after menopause. In terms of treatments, remember one size does not fit all.
Myths and facts about menopause
The ‘’pear shape to apple shape‘’ change is a myth.
Menopause and the hormonal changes do not cause you to gain weight. The fall in oestrogen in fact causes you to shift fat from other parts of your body to your mid section. There is no evidence to suggest that Hormone therapy for treating menopausal symptoms causes weight gain at menopause.
During menopause most women will experience bone loss. Osteoporosis is a risk factor for fragility fractures and lack of oestrogen results in a reduction of bone density.
In women going through the change, bone breakdown exceeds bone formation in most women especially in the two years leading up to menopause and continues at a quite a rapid rate for about 2 years after menopause. In general women lose about 1% of bone mass / year for about ten years across the menopausal change, which puts women at risk of Osteoporosis and fractures.
Slim women or those with a history of early menopause are more at risk of losing bone density.
Patients are advised to consider a Calcium and Vitamin D rich diet for healthy bones.
Incorporate physical activity in to your routine daily life to allow core muscle strength and weight bearing exercises, such as light jogging, skipping if possible.
Women can complain of memory, concentration difficulties after menopause. This is normal and is something that resolves with time. It can be due to hormone fluctuations or external factors such as sleep deprivation or stress. Consider improving your sleep patterns, reducing stress levels, Meditation and focusing on health eating patterns.
Discuss treatment options with your GP.
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