What is the menopause? The menopause occurs when eggs stop being released from your ovaries or if ovaries are removed. The amount of oestrogen hormone falls and periods stop. The average age for women to have their menopause is 51 years. However, menopause can start earlier for some women.
Symptoms – hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, low mood and anxiety, joint and muscle pains, loss of libido. Symptoms will vary for most women and some may be severe whilst others may not experience any symptoms.
Diagnosis – Diagnosis is usually made based on symptoms, on the absence of periods for one year after the age of 50 years or two years under the age of 50 years. Your GP or nurse may request hormone level blood tests but as hormone levels fluctuate a lot, this is usually only advisable in women under 45 years of age.
Treatment – Lifestyle changes, such as exercise and dietary changes, can help symptoms. As can reducing alcohol and caffeine and smoking cessation.
Some women find non-prescribed treatment help reduce symptoms. This can include herbal medication, alternative or complementary therapy – although the effects of these treatments are not well researched or known.
Cognitive behaviour therapy is sometimes offered for low mood or hot flushes.
Options for prescribed treatment include non-hormonal medication to reduce hot flushes, intrauterine devices containing hormones and/or HRT which is the most common form of prescribed treatment for menopausal symptoms.
Support and follow up – This is offered through GP’s, Practice Nurses, Gynaecologists, Powys Teaching Health Board Endometriosis/Women’s Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, Sexual Health Team, Women’s Health Physiotherapists, Continence Nurse Specialists.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/treatment-symptoms-menopause/
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/NG23
British Menopause Society (BMS) https://thebms.org.uk/
Menopause Matters https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/downloads.php