Menopause usually occurs in your 40s or 50s. It is a natural biological process that first results in lessening of your periods, followed by complete cessation.
If menopause occurs before the age of 40, it is known as premature menopause. Menopause is defined as the absence of period for 12 months and marks the end of menstruation for a woman.
Often, before menopause occurs, a woman’s period usually becomes more irregular – the duration of her periods may become longer or shorter, or the amount of flow may be lighter or heavier.
During the transitional years before menopause occurs, (also known as peri-menopausal phase), there are fluctuations in oestrogen levels which causes many symptoms.
Symptoms that many women experience include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Lack of energy
- Weight gain
- Dry, itchy skin
- Joint and muscle pain
- Low sexual desire
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood changes
- Poor memory and concentration
- Less interest in sexual activity
Any vaginal bleeding, even light spotting, that occurs after menopause, is known as postmenopausal bleeding, has to be investigated by a doctor. Sinister causes such as endometrial cancer have to be excluded.
The peri-menopausal phase is a natural and transient period in a woman’s life cycle, and does not always require any form of treatment. Some women find that making simple lifestyle or dietary changes can help to relieve their symptoms.
However, in cases where symptoms can be significant, or disruptive to a woman’s daily function, treatment is used to reduce these symptoms. Various therapies such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or local hormonal treatments such as vaginal oestrogen creams can be considered. Alternative therapies such as black cohosh or lifestyle measures like lubrication for vagina dryness may also be helpful.
For psychological symptoms, counselling or support groups can be useful in alleviating negative emotions or moods associated with menopause. General lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation, a healthy diet and regular weight bearing exercise are some of the additional ways to cope with menopause, and ward off the complications associated with menopause.
Millions of women are affected by menopause, and its symptoms can severely disrupt a woman’s everyday life. If you find that you are affected by this transition, please speak to your doctor for general counselling, and treatment options.
Other Women’s Sexual Health Articles:
- Vaginal Yeast Infection (Thrush)
- A Women Guide to Contraception
- STD Chlamydia Screening & Treatment
- STD Women’s Gonorrhoea Symptoms & Treatment
- STD Women’s Herpes Infection
- Urine Pain & Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU)
- Bleeding After Sex
- Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
- Women’s STD Screening, Testing and Treatment Service
- What are the causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
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