Menopause

by Roger

Menopause is the end of menstruation or monthly periods. It is sometimes known as the “Change of Life”. This occurs when a woman’s ovaries no longer produce an egg every 28 days. The average age of menopause for women in the UK is 51, although it can happen much earlier. If the menopause happens before the age of 40, it is known as premature menopause.

Causes of the menopause

The menopause is triggered by falling levels of the female sex hormone, oestrogen. In the years before the menopause, periods may become less regular and women may notice other symptoms including

  • night sweats
  • hot flushes
  • vaginal dryness
  • mood swings

Treatment

Some women do not notice any problems during the menopause, but others suffer symptoms that can make their lives difficult, including lack of sleep because of night sweats and mood swings. If this is the case, they should see their GP, who can prescribe hormone replacement therapy or HRT to help alleviate these symptoms. If HRT is not recommended, or the woman does not wish to take it, vaginal lubricants can help with dryness, and antidepressants are sometimes prescribed for hot flushes.

Self-help

The menopause is not an illness but a life-stage, and many women prefer to improve the way they feel by eating a healthy diet, to ensure that they get sufficient nutrients, taking more exercise, and making time for relaxation. Ideally, aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or running should be combined with stretching exercises, such as yoga or Pilates.