MENOPAUSE – THERE, WE SAID IT!
The word menopause is one of those words whispered between women worldwide and often seen as a taboo subject that is spoken with embarrassment and hesitancy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life. It’s time to remove the stigma and get a conversation started. Your GP is a good place to start as they can help guide and support you. Starting a conversation with your friends and family may also help too. It’s important to find someone you can talk openly with.
Menopause impacts women in different ways.
Some women hardly notice a change and seem to breeze through without any symptoms; but for most this is not the case.
Did you know?
- More than two in five women in Australia said symptoms were worse than expected yet half had not consulted a doctor.
- More than a third said they felt that menopause was something they just had to ‘put up with’.
- Half of women going through menopause suffer in silence and avoid talking to a doctor because of the stigma surrounding “the change.”
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is a stage of irregular menstruation.
Perimenopause is the period around the cessation of monthly menstrual bleeding, which usually lasts between 10 months and 4 years.
Put simply, it is the transition from the fertile reproductive period to non-fertile period (This is usually around 45 years of age but can be earlier or later.)
This is the time when the regular “period” of monthly hormonal changes begins to go out of sync as oestrogen levels decrease.
During this time women may present with irregular or heavy bleeding, hot flushes, mood swings, disturbed or irregular sleep patterns. You may see your sex drive reduce and experience vaginal dryness. All of these symptoms are normal, common and can be discussed with your GP for support and guidance.
The average woman experiences 7 of these typical symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia and mood swings and only 20% of women do not experience any.
What is Menopause?
Menopause features a total absence of menstruation.
Menopause is the cessation of menstrual bleeding, normally around the early 50’s. It is defined as cessation of primary ovarian functions.
At this point, the ovaries cease to make Oestrogen and are not producing eggs.
Menopause occurs around 1 year after your periods have stopped.“During a normal cycle, the pituitary secretes FSH and LH which trigger the development and maturation of follicles and their release. When follicles mature they secrete oestrogen and once they are released, progesterone. Oestrogen and progesterone stimulate growth of the endometrial lining. When a conception does not occur, the inner lining of the uterus sheds. This is called menses or the period.” Says the National Menopause Association.
In menopause, a lessening of follicles due to hormonal control of the pituitary diminishes, oestrogen and progesterone levels drops and ultimately, our periods cease.
There are some cases where menopause occurs much earlier or later than expected. Very early menopause is called premature ovarian failure.
This is rare and only occurs in 0.1% of females below 30.
It’s important to remember that…
The majority of women will experience symptoms associated with menopause. 80%. That’s a whole lot of women around the world.
You aren’t alone and your doctor will have spoken to many women over their time experiencing symptoms.
Below are some facts from published research involving over 2000 Australian women aged 40 to 65 years:
- 75% of postmenopausal women aged less than 55 years have hot flushes/night sweats
- 28% of postmenopausal women aged less than 55 years have MODERATE TO SEVERE hot flushes/night sweats
- 42% of women aged 60 to 65 years still have hot flushes/night sweats
- Flushes and sweats can severely impact wellbeing
- Women with moderate to severe flushes and sweats are almost 3-fold more likely to have moderate-severe depressive symptoms than other women
- Other common menopausal symptoms include anxiety, disturbed sleep, joint pain and vaginal dryness
There are things you can do for yourself, to reduce the severity of symptoms.
Eating Nutritious Food Regularly
Including a variety of nutrients in your diet could help to ease symptoms. You might like to try soybeans, linseeds, alfalfa sprouts, green leafy vegetables, fish and nuts and Vitamin B3 rich food like poultry, eggs and mushrooms. Melon and strawberries or vegetables such as broccoli and spinach can help. Speak to your GP or Dietician if you would like more guidance and support.
At this stage in your life, more than ever, keeping your bones, muscles and joints strong and stable is integral to your overall health. Frequent exercise – 30 minutes of gentle exercise most days is recommended.
Limit alcohol intake and stop smoking
Alcohol can increase your experience with hot flushes and interfere with a consistent sleeping pattern.
If you smoke, aim to reduce this or even cut it out altogether. Your GP at Active Medical can also provide help in these areas.
Therapy & Treatments
Processing the emotional and physical changes of this time can really take its toll and there are many forms of therapy out there to assist you. Our GPs can guide you through this time and talk about the number of options available to you.
Don’t underestimate taking time to…
Taking time out to look after yourself and relax is important in decreasing your stress levels and boosting your overall mood. Yoga, meditation or a long bath can work wonders for your mood whilst keeping you in a relaxed state.
Remember, you’re not alone…
Kelli Mari talks about getting menopausal symptoms at 42 years of age.
‘I had no idea what was happening to my body. I knew about Menopause but didn’t realise I could have symptoms this early.
There is a huge stigma associated and I felt so negative towards my body and definitely didn’t want to mention it to my partner.
I am a confident woman and yet I felt so anxious and lost so much self-confidence. It was like I didn’t know myself. My relationship was fairly new and I was devastated to share with him that I felt less of a woman. I eventually went to my GP and through tears told her what was going on.
My message is don’t feel ashamed or like there isn’t help out there. Your GP will be your best support and there are so many blogs out there from amazing women who can empower you and make you feel “normal” again,” Kelli Mari.
Active Medical is located at 228 – 232 Caroline Springs Blvd, Caroline Springs.