Menopause

Are you experiencing hot flushes, rapid changes in mood or sleep disturbances? You may be going through menopause.

Menopause doesn’t occur overnight, it’s gradual and most women experience it between the ages of 45 and 55.

Symptoms

As menopause progresses, a woman may notice changes in her menstrual cycle. Menstruation will fluctuate and may become longer, shorter, lighter or heavier.

Eventually the hormone levels fall to a point where menstruation ceases altogether.

Other symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Decreased fertility
  • Vaginal changes including dryness, itching, or burning
  • Sleep disturbances and night sweats
  • Emotional changes including irritability or mood swings
  • General aches and pains
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Tiredness
  • Urinary frequency
  • Weight gain

Several chronic medical conditions tend to appear after menopause. It’s important for women to become aware to minimise the risk.

Things to be conscious of include:

  • Loss of calcium from menopause increases your risk of osteoporosis. Your bones may become brittle and weak, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Engage in regular, weight-bearing exercises to keep your bones strong.
  • As your oestrogen levels decline, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Make sure to get regular check ups with your doctor.
  • Some women may experience urinary incontinence. As the tissues of your vagina and urethra lose their elasticity, you may experience urine leakage when you’re coughing, laughing or lifting.

Treatment

Menopause is usually a natural process so it’s best to let it run its course. Often, if you improve your lifestyle habits, unpleasant symptoms of menopause will be greatly reduced.

Recommended treatments include:

  • A healthy diet. Choose a variety of foods, including plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals, whole grains and small portions of lean meat, fish or chicken.
  • Increase you intake of fluids and low fat dairy foods with high calcium content.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly – at least 45 minutes three times per week.
  • Avoid smoking due to the associated risk of osteoporosis, coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
  • Hormone replacement therapy can effectively reduces many unpleasant effects of menopause symptoms. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor.

To minimise symptoms make sure you receive regular pap smears and breast checks. Dr Gailani recommends a two-yearly check up for optimum health.

RANZCOGCalvary John James HospitalCanberra HospitalAustralian  National UniversityWomens HealthICS