Many women approach the menopause with a feeling of dread. They know it’s coming and there’s no escaping it, but that doesn’t mean you have to look at the menopause as an oncoming express train and you’re tied to the tracks. The menopause is a natural part of being a woman and as such it can be embraced rather than feared making the “change of life” a lot easier.
But there’s no escaping the fact that some women will have a relatively easy menopause, while for others it may be far more of a physical and emotional journey.
What happens during the Menopause
The menopause occurs when a woman’s body stops producing eggs. As a result levels of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone drop and periods cease occurring. However, it’s often the physical consequences and emotional effects of the menopause that concern women the most.
Not every woman experiences the same menopause symptoms which can include:
Hot flushes, which can occur several times throughout the day, and which can switch into chills.
Night sweats, caused by hot flushers while you’re asleep
Irregular periods, which are usually a sign that the menopause is approaching
Dry or itchy skin
Aches and pains in joints and muscles
Tiredness and insomnia
Some women sail through the menopause with the minimum of discomfort, but not all are quite so lucky. Menopause symptoms can also show up as psychological issues which can be just as irritating or uncomfortable. Mood swings are common and how much of an emotional rollercoaster ride a woman goes thorough often depends on if she has experienced PMS (premenstrual syndrome) in the past.
There is no set answer. Most women usually experience it between the ages of 45-55. However premature menopause can occur from the age of 35, and at the other end of the age scale as late as 60 and beyond. Whatever the menopause age, it should not last more than a couple of years, but in extreme cases some women have experienced symptoms for anywhere up to five or six years.
For the majority of women, the menopause treatment of choice is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which comes in different combinations of oestrogen and progesterone, and in different strengths.
Menopause treatment takes different forms including tablets, implants, creams, pessaries and patches, and is tailored to each woman’s needs. Most women start to feel the benefits after one to two weeks.
If you’re considering HRT, it’s very important to talk to a doctor first as there are side effects that need to be taken into account. Previous conditions can also affect your HRT, such as high blood pressure, liver disease, endometrial cancer or a previous deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Sometimes your periods will continue with HRT and in some instances they’ll stop. It depends on the course of HRT you’re taking. There are many question surrounding HRT, but your doctor will be able to answer them and put your mind at rest.
Sex and the Menopause
One of the menopause matters that causes a lot of concern is sex. Some women experience a decrease in libido due the drop in hormone levels, tiredness or vaginal dryness. But on the plus side many report that they enjoy sex a lot more after the menopause, the change of life giving them a new lease of life in the bedroom.
The menopause is part of what makes you a woman, and many women emerge from the change of life feeling better about themselves and empowered.
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