Menopause – before, during and after
Menopause is one of the biggest transitions in a woman’s life.
Often referred to as ‘the change of life’; the menopause refers to the time when oestrogen (the female hormone) production in the ovaries slows down and finally stops. As ovaries become older, they become less efficient which leads to those significant hormonal changes.
No two women are the same as far as the menopause is concerned but generally, menopause occurs naturally later in life beginning in women between 45 and 55 years of age. If a woman under 40-years-old goes through menopause, this is known as ‘premature menopause’.
For some women, menstruation (periods) just stop without any symptoms, but for others; perimenopause and menopause can be a time filled with uncomfortable and painful symptoms which can last for years.
It’s important that if you’re approaching menopause that you’re aware of your body because changes in hormone levels can begin years before menopause starts and it’s important to take the necessary steps to make sure that you manage your symptoms so that during this transition, you’re as comfortable as you can be.
The three stages of menopause:
For some women, their periods stop one day without a single sign or symptom that they’re going through menopause, but for others; it can be a very different story.
Regardless of your signs and symptoms, there are three stages to menopause:
This can last up to eight years and is the time before the final period. This is when a woman will notice the most changes in her body and it’s advisable to consult with a GP who can check hormone levels and the PH of the vagina to give a better indication of whether you’re in peri-menopause.
It’s important to note that a woman can still get pregnant during this time so it’s essential that contraception is still used by women who are sexually active.
A woman is diagnosed as being in menopause when she has 12 consecutive period-free months. It’s after this time has passed that no more eggs are released from her ovaries and she’s unable to get pregnant.
This is the time after the menopause is over. Most symptoms have eased by this point but due to the lack of oestrogen, it’s important that women keep a close eye on their health as they are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and weight gain.
Regular consultations with your GP will provide you with ongoing medical advice and a hormonal treatment program if that’s the best course of action.
While no two women are the same, some common symptoms of menopause may include the following:
- Hot flushes
- Irregular periods
- Mood swings
- Breast pain
- Vaginal dryness
- Changes to sex drive.
It’s extremely difficult to diagnose a woman as peri-menopausal as changes in hormones occur throughout her life at different times of her cycle. While these common symptoms could also arise from another underlying illness, it’s important that if you’re of peri-menopausal age and you start to regularly suffer with any changes in your body, that you make an appointment with your GP for consultation.
There’s no treatment for the natural transition that menopause causes, but symptoms can often be managed very effectively with regular treatments prescribed by your GP. If you think you’re approaching peri-menopause, contact us today to discuss your symptoms.