Started by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1984, World Menopause Day raises awareness around the realities of female health and creates the opportunity to work together to combat global stigma.
The NHS defines menopause as “when your period stops due to lower hormone levels”. The ovaries stop producing eggs and there is a drop in the levels of oestrogen, disrupting the menstrual cycle and causing the symptoms associated with the menopause. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being 51. However, around 1 in 4 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age, this can be due to other health issues such as receiving cancer treatment.
What are the Symptoms?
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms and it’s likely that symptoms will vary from person to person. Symptoms can begin months or even years before a woman’s period stops. This is called the perimenopause. The menopause can cause both physical and psychological symptoms and on average lasts for four years.
There are many known symptoms but here are some of the most typical:
- hot flushes
- issues with sleeping
- muscle and joint pain
- heart palpitations
- psychological issues such as stress, anxiety, memory loss, brain fog
- weight gain
Some symptoms can be severe and can have a massive impact on people’s lives and make everyday activities difficult. Therefore, it’s important to understand the symptoms, what treatments are available and what support is out there.
What is out there to help?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces the hormones that are missing from going through the menopause. HRT is extremely effective at relieving menopausal symptoms and is available as tablets, skin patches, a gel or implants. Historically there has been some bad press around HRT, but evidence says that the risks of HRT are small and usually outweighed by the benefits.
If suffering from hot flushes and night sweats, simple measures may help, such as:
- keeping the bedroom cool at night
- wearing light clothing
- taking a cool shower
- Trying to reduce stress levels
- Taking regular exercise
Many women experience low mood, mood swings and anxiety during the menopause. Self-care measures such as getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly and practising relaxing activities like yoga and meditation can help. Also reach out to your GP to see what other treatments are available.
Going through the menopause can be a scary and confusing time and if you’re suffering it’s important to talk to someone and to get in contact with your GP. It is becoming more of discussion point now and there are lots of places to get help and support.
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