The average age of the last menstruation for women in the UK and US is 51 years old, although some women can have menopause before they become 40 while others only experience it when they are over 55. For most women, menopause happens over a period of a few years between the age 45 and 55. Removal of ovaries and cancer therapies can also cause menopause regardless women’s age.
In the months or years leading to menopause, a period called perimenopause, woman might experience any of the following symptoms.
- Irregular periods
- Hot flushes (a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the body)
- Night sweats or chills
- Mood swings, irritability, and mild depression
- Sleeping difficulties (insomnia)
- Dryness in vagina and pain during sex
- Decrease in sexual desire
- Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair and dry skin
Menopause is a natural and inevitable stage of life and it does not necessarily require medical treatment. In the UK, NHS recommends that woman talks to her GP if she has symptoms that are troubling her or if she is experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
However, many women find menopausal symptoms difficult to live with. It is generally recommended that you spend time learning about menopause and how to live through it in a positive manner. There are number of websites, women support groups and specialised clinics.
There are also products that women can use to reduce symptoms of the menopause.
- Doctors can prescribe drugs that address general or specific menopause symptoms
- Oestrogen hormone in tablets, skin patches, gels or implants. The idea is to supplement oestrogen to alleviate menopause symptoms in general. This approach is called the hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
- Selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). A SERM sensitises body towards oestrogen, and thus lessens the impact of decreasing oestrogen level. SERMs are licensed to treat pain during intercourse and dryness in vagina caused by menopause.
- Drugs for urinary incontinence
- Medication for insomnia, mood swings and mild depression.
- There are also a number of products that support women with
- Vaginal lubricants and gels are used to alleviate the symptoms of dry vagina; however, they do not have any healing properties.
Doctors also recommend eating healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly and maintaining active social and family life. Menopause is a rite of passage for all women and a door to the third stage of life, which last 20-30 years for most of us. So, it is important to stay positive, maintain active life style, and take care of menopause symptoms proactively. This will help us transition into the new stage of life with renewed energy and health bodies.
Here are some websites that provide general information about menopause:
Women’s Health Concern: the patient arm of British Menopause Society, the main association of doctors specialised in menopause in the UK