Menopause is defined by no menstrual cycles (no bleeding) for 12 months or more. The time leading up to this is sometimes referred to as perimenopause, where cycles might become very irregular or infrequent.
All women will go through menopause at some time in their life. This usually happens in a woman's early 50s (average age 51) but can happen earlier.
Special tests are not usually necessary and can be hard to interpret in perimenopause but if you are under 45 years old and periods have stopped, this should be looked into.
Common symptoms include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Sleep disturbance
- Change in mood - anxiety, easily irritable
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness and painful sex
Before considering hormone replacement therapy your GP or gynaecologist should screen for and optimise your general wellness. The symptoms of menopause could be due to thyroid issues, diabetes or other medications you might take.
Diet and exercise as well as reducing caffeine, alcohol and smoking will all be beneficial.
Simple management options like changes in routine or clothing options will be directed at your specific symptoms. For vaginal dryness use of lubricants during sex such as KY jelly or Sylk might be helpful as well as regular use of a vaginal moisturiser such as Replens.
Supplements that contain Black Cohosh such as Remifemin, may be helpful and is the only natural supplement with some evidence of benefit.
Bioidenticals are marketed as more natural treatment options but should be considered cautiously because they are not TGA approved and have less regulation over their ingredients.
Hormone replacement (HRT) is a safe and very effective treatment option for some women. Oestrogen replacement has been shown to be the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms but may not be necessary or the safest option depending on your symptoms and personal medical history. Other options might include Tibolone, testosterone (in those with proven testosterone deficiency) or an anti-depressant medication.
Important factors when deciding on HRT include your age of menopause, history of breast cancer, history of clots (DVT) and heart disease risk.
When to seek help
Help can be sought at any time, our specialists at Create Health are always available for advice regarding menopause symptoms and management. The advice of a women’s health specialist is of particular importance if you have any medical risk factors or concerns. As experts in the field, we will help find the safest, most effective treatments options and are here to help you.
If you are experiencing these symptoms or would like advice on managing menopause, reach out to us by calling 9873 6767. We would be delighted to speak with you and to discuss how we may be able to assist you.