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Menopause And Associated Difficulties

Menopause And Associated Difficulties

The menopause, the time when the amount of oestrogen produced by the ovaries starts to fall, is not an illness but a natural stage in a woman’s life.

What to expect during your menopause

Periods may become irregular or less frequent before stopping altogether. Many women do not experience any adverse side effects but according to figures from the NHS, up to 80% suffer hot flushes: you may notice

  • A sudden feeling of heat spreading across the body
  • The face and chest may become red
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feelings of panic and anxiety

When hot flushes happen at night, they can be very disruptive to your sleep. However, you can help yourself to stay cool:

  • Identify and avoid any triggers such as caffeine, spicy food and alcohol
  • Layer your clothes and bed linen so that you can cool down easily
  • Eat healthily and take plenty of exercise

Problems associated with menopause and early menopause

Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 58; the average age in the UK is 51. However, it can happen much earlier because of premature ovarian failure (POF). Research published by the BMJ shows that women who experience premature menopause are at 25% higher risk of cardiovascular death and 50% more likely to suffer coronary heart disease so most doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce this danger. New studies from the US show that falling oestrogen levels may impact on the progress of MS, highlighting the benefit of HRT for menopausal MS patients.

Perimenopause

The years running up to the menopause are known as the perimenopause, which most often occurs during a woman’s 40s but may happen as early as the 30s; many women notice a change in their periods during this time. You can still become pregnant so it’s important to continue to use contraception; your doctor may also suggest a low dose oral contraceptive to relieve some of the symptoms, which can include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Irregular periods
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of libido
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex

Natural cures for menopausal symptoms

Plant based and herbal remedies can be helpful in relieving menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms. Soy, clover and black cohosh can reduce the severity of hot flushes while vaginal lubricants and moisturisers can help to make sex more comfortable.

When to seek medical help

While perimenopause and menopause are natural life stages, you should consult your doctor if you have any concerns such as:

  • Very heavy periods or blood clots
  • Periods that last longer than usual
  • Spotting between periods or after sex
  • Periods occurring closer together

Sources: NHS
MS Society
BMJ