We don’t hear an awful lot about menopause. Mostly, it’s a bit of a laugh.
The mum stripping down naked in the middle of the night lying down on the bathroom tiles to cool herself, despite the fact it’s the middle of winter. The aunty with brain fog, forgetting things and having jokes made about her having early dementia.
But for a number of women, menopause isn’t all that funny.
What is menopause?
Menopause, also known as ‘the change of life’, is the end of menstruation (having periods) in a woman’s life.
It is a natural occurrence at the end of the reproductive years, just as the first period during puberty was the start.
As you approach menopause, the production of ‘female’ hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) by the ovaries starts to slow down. Hormone levels tend to fluctuate, and you may notice changes in your menstrual cycle such as:
- period cycles may become longer, shorter or totally irregular
- bleeding may become lighter
- bleeding may become unpredictable and heavy (get advice from your doctor).
Eventually, your hormone levels will fall to a point where your ovaries stop releasing eggs, your periods stop and menopause is reached.
The symptoms of menopause vary widely between women:
- Hot flushes
- Strange skin sensations
- Mood changes and,
- Vaginal dryness
Others may experience:
- Insomnia or unusual tiredness
- Joint pain and muscle aches
- Reduced libido
- Dry skin and,
- New facial hair.
And some women cruise through to menopause with minimal symptoms.
Onset is often after the age of 45 but can occur from around 40 in a small number of women.
The experience of menopause, again, can vary widely between women. Their experience is often impacted by support and advice from health professionals.
We recommend seeking early support from a One for Women GP with knowledge in the assessment and management of troublesome menopause symptoms.
There are lifestyle, hormone and non-hormonal treatment options for the treatment of many menopausal symptoms.
In addition, the time of menopause is an excellent stage in life to assess your complete health:
- Cardiovascular risk
- Osteoporosis risk
- Alcohol use
- Pelvic floor
- Reviewing significant family history
- Ensure breast cancer and cervical cancer screening tests are up to date.
At One for Women, in addition to skilled women’s health GP’s we have women’s health physiotherapists and gynaecologists that work as a team to individualise your care and help you experience the best possible transition to menopause.
This post was written by Dr Erin Horsley who is a specialist GP for One for Women. She focuses on general women’s health issues and is able to rapidly access allied health input from our physiotherapist or dietician, or escalate care to one of our gynaecologists.