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What is Menopause?

What is Menopause?

By Dr Gendy, Consultant Gynaecologist,

Menopause is a natural biological process and is transitional period where a woman progresses from her childbearing years into the next non-fertile phase. It should not be considered a disease or a condition. It is important to note that this biological change does not occur overnight!

As the ovaries get smaller and stop producing hormones oestrogen and progesterone (which control the menstrual cycle), the eggs deplete and eventually the fertility declines.

Menopause reacts in different ways for every woman. Hence, it is important that you are aware of the menopause signs and symptoms.

What age am I likely to go through Menopause?

Although, the average age for the onset of menopause in the UK is 51 years old, the majority of the women stop having periods around ages 45 to 55. The age of menopause is thought to be genetically determined, but things such as smoking, chemotherapy etc. may cause an early menopause.

What can cause Menopause?

Menopause can begin as a result of:

·         Natural decline of reproductive hormones

·         Hysterectomy 

·         Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

What are the stages of Menopause?

A normal Menopause can be well understood as a stage of transition from Perimenopause to post-Menopause. 

  • Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the time when ovulation, and hence the fertility, slows down. This leads to decreased hormonal levels. As a consequence, it's common for a woman to experience several unpleasant side effects, including:

·        Mood swings - irritability, depression, anxiety

·        Hot flashes

·        Night sweats

·        Vaginal dryness

·        Loss of libido

·        Sleep disturbances - insomnia

Knowing exactly when a woman enters the perimenopause period is difficult. However, irregular periods may be an indicator. The hormones fluctuate most during this phase.

  • Pre-Menopause

A natural Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45-55 years and is a symptom of the normal process of aging. However, due to genetic or environmental factors, invasive procedures or surgeries, many women experience a halt to their periods at an early age. An early Menopause occurs before the age of 45 years and the Menopause occurring before 40 years or early 30s, is a termed “premature Menopause”.

  • Menopause

Once a woman has gone a year without having a period, they are said to have entered Menopause. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms experienced during perimenopause can still be experienced during Menopause.

A reduced hormone production may cause:

       ·        Hot flashes

·        Night sweats

·        Loss of libido

 

  • Post Menopause

The years following the cessation of the period is referred as post menopause. The symptoms felt earlier gradually reduce as the hormonal levels stabilize.

It's important to remember that the reduced oestrogen levels in a post menopause state exposes a women to a higher health risk, such as:

       ·        Osteoporosis

·       Coronary artery disease

·        Endometrial cancer 

 

A woman can reduce the level of risk they are exposed to in post menopause by maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, avoiding a cigarette smoke and supplementing a Hormonal Replacement Therapy.

If you are going through Menopause, contact one of our experienced Private GPs or male & female Consultant Gynaecologists at Pall Mall Medical. For more information, email consultant@pallmallmedical.co.uk, call 0330 058 44 55 or visit: https://www.pallmallmedical.co.uk/consultants/gynaecology

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