For many women, the menopause can be a difficult time we have the expertise and experience to help you through it.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is the name given to the end of a woman's menstrual cycle (periods). The ovaries stop producing Oestrogen, which in some women lead to a variety of symptoms.
The menopause is not always sudden and the onset of symptoms may be gradual. In some women this process is preceded by the peri-menopause or climateric (the time leading up to the menopause) when a women may experience both physical and emotional changes and symptoms. The peri-menopause phase can vary in length from woman to woman and everybody experiences symptoms differently.
The menopause is a natural part of ageing and is defined as when a woman has not had a period for a year and can also be confirmed by a simple blood test. The average age of menopause in the UK is 51 years, however, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before the age of 40 - this is known as premature ovarian insufficiency. The menopause can also be caused by treatment for cancer or other underlying medical conditions.
How do you know if you are menopausal?
Eight out of ten women will experience some symptoms leading up to the menopause and of these, approximately 50% of women will find their symptoms difficult to deal with (view source).
Common symptoms of the menopause include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Irregular bleeding
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Difficulty to concentrate (foggy or cloudy brain)
- Low mood or depression
- Vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort
- Urinary urgency
- Decrease in libido
- Formication – feels like your skin is crawling
Treating the menopause
There are a number of menopause treatments available, with or without hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Recent changes in NICE Guidance show the Cancer risk of taking HRT is low and that it can actually offer protection against Dementia and Osteoporosis.
HRT can be beneficial because it works by replacing Oestrogen in the body during the approach to menopause, which is effective in treating some of the more common menopausal symptoms and can also help to prevent osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Hormone replacement therapy has been known to be associated with some risks and an individual risk assessment will be carried out and explained.
There are many ways of taking HRT and women will usually be offered a choice as to whether to take it or not and the most appropriate form, for example tablets, patches, gels applied to the arm or leg, and implants.
If a woman does not wish to take HRT, or cannot for medical reasons, alternative treatments can be offered to ease the symptoms including diet and exercise, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
All treatments need to be monitored in order to make sure that they are having the desired effect. Each patient will initially be placed on a 3 month trial and then followed up to understand effectiveness of symptom control and changes made where required. Once a successful treatment plan is agreed ongoing follow up will ensure you are continued to be monitored and your symptoms managed.
What to expect at your first appointment
Most appointments take place in the consulting suites at BMI The Priory Hospital. First appointments with Mr Toozs-Hobson normally last for 30 minutes, allowing you time to explain your problems and also to be examined, if required and a management plan to be formulated. Every consultation is followed up with a typed letter for you to keep, written in plain English so that you can understand what has been discussed.
If further blood tests or diagnostic tests are required, there may be an option for you to have these following your consultation.