Menopause Symptoms and Treatments – Know When to See a Doctor?
Let’s talk about Menopause symptoms. Menopause is when a woman has not had her menstrual period (regular monthly bleeds) for about one year.
It is not a disease – and yes that surprises many women (and men!). Menopause is a natural phenomenon that women experience as they reach the end of their reproductive life.
Many women go through this period without any symptoms and in fact – many feel their lives are just beginning!
Freedom from monthly periods and period cramps
Years of experience gained running a business, managing a household or learning from life’s hard knocks.
Yes, you can enjoy menopause – not endure it!
However, some other women can experience a number of upsetting and life-changing problems.
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The average age of Menopause is 49 years in Nigerian women with average global age of 51 years.
The peri-menopausal period is the time leading up to menopause and before the menses stop altogether.
This is because it takes the body a while to adjust to the changes.
It (perimenopausal period) can last as long as 5 years and – for some women much longer.
Hormones and Menopause
During perimenopause, there is a big swing in hormone levels – as they begin to drop in their concentration in the blood.
These mainly include Oestrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone – but other hormones like Cortisol and Insulin show levels that change in the body.
Some of the symptoms of reduced hormones especially oestrogen are ‘internal heat’, night sweat, and mood changes.
It is quite common for a woman to be confused about the change occurring in her body because this is a period when many things are happening.
Health problems are more common with age.
New heart, kidney, breast, bowel or womb diseases can happen as women grow older.
They can arrive with symptoms that may resemble some we see in menopause.
So, let us look at these menopause symptoms – but remember, these changes do not happen to every woman and some ladies may have a much more intense experience than others.
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes (depression – may be more experienced in women around their menstrual period or experienced after childbirth, called postpartum blues or postpartum depression)
- Acne – even if never experienced before the perimenopause.
- Joint pains
- Weight gain (more in the belly) due to slower metabolism.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduced sex drive (libido)
- Problems with memory and concentration.
But that’s not all – check out this graphic below for many more menopause symptoms.
Symptoms That Should Make You Visit Your Doctor
So you see that many women may be free of troublesome symptoms as they go through menopause.
But what if you do experience changes – which should you worry about?
You can discuss any changes you notice with your doctor. And that’s what our email service is for – we can help you identify which symptoms are significant or not.
But below are a few that should definitely not be ignored:
- Heavy bleeding in the peri-menopausal period.
- ‘Internal heat’ and hot flushes that prevents you from getting through the day.
- Persistent mood changes.
- Experiencing menopausal symptoms (like those described above) before 45 years of age.
Your doctor will advise if these symptoms are due to menopause.
It will be important to conduct tests such as blood tests, ultrasound scans, biopsies and other examinations of the reproductive organs.
These may detect conditions like Polyps, Womb Cancer, Premature Menopause etc.
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What Will Help You?
There are different treatments your doctor can offer to help with any symptoms that arise during menopause.
Usually, lifestyle changes can be helpful and these range from:
- losing weight
- stopping smoking or alcohol use
- ensure rest periods
- eating a healthy diet and
- Exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight
- this may sometimes be more than the routine as the metabolism is slower in post-menopausal women.
For other treatment measures:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – can be in form of tablets, skin patches, gels and implants to help replace the low hormone (oestrogen).
- Vaginal oestrogen creams and lubricants for vaginal dryness.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – talking therapy to help with low mood and anxiety
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist if these symptoms do not improve after trying the treatments listed above or the individual is unable to take hormone replacement therapy.
In conclusion, I don’t know what you’ve heard about menopause symptoms, but the main takeaway is that you should not endure this phase of life – these symptoms (if they trouble you), are treatable and you too, can enjoy menopause!
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More Related Reading
- An age thing? ..what Menopause means to You
- Askawayhealth Women’s Health Section
- Common changes in Menopause
- 4 Ways To Up Your Mood When The Weather Is Down
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly
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