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Let's talk ~ Menopause

Dr. Manoka De Silva

Let’s Talk Menopause is part of our Women’s Wellbeing series that addresses issues relevant to women’s health and well-being. This article is a summary of the Zoom discussion held by one of WE’s very own medical professionals, Dr Manoka.

There can be a lack of awareness, stigma and embarrassment for women going


through the menopause but all women will experience this at some stage and it is important to recognise and seek help and support if needed.

The menopause is defined as the time one year after your last menstrual period. effect on physical and mental health. It can affect these relationships, work and home life and so it is important for everyone to recognise


.

The average age of menopause in the UK is 51.

The time leading up to the menopause when symptoms can start is called the perimenopause and for some women this can last many years.

Nowadays, women often have many roles when symptoms develop including working, being parents to young children and caregivers to elderly relatives. Menopause can have a significant effect on physical and mental health. It can affect these relationships, work and home life and so it is important for everyone to recognise.

80% of women may have some symptoms and 30% of women suffer from severe symptoms.


There are many symptoms associated with the menopause including, but not limited to, hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, joint and muscle pains, hair loss, anxiety, low mood, poor memory and concentration, vaginal discomfort and dryness, painful sex, loss of libido and frequent urine infections.

The risk of osteoporosis and heart disease increases after the menopause so it is important to have a healthy lifestyle with a good diet, regular exercise and adequate calcium and vitamin D. Reducing alcohol and stopping smoking is also important.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the first line recommended treatment for hot flushes, night sweats and low mood related to the menopause. The benefits of HRT include improvement of menopausal symptoms as well as reducing the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

For most women the benefits of HRT will outweigh the risks when started within 10 years of the menopause and if less than 60 years of age. There are many different types of HRT and not all types will have the same risks or suit everyone so it is important to speak to your GP to discuss your options. Other non-hormonal medications such as antidepressants are available though they may not be as effective.

Urinary and genital symptoms such as vaginal dryness and soreness will likely worsen as you get older. Vaginal lubricants and moisturisers can help. Localised treatment with vaginal oestrogen cream is effective, has minimal risks and can be used long-term.

Vaginal bleeding or abnormal discharge after the menopause should be reported urgently to your GP as it could be the first sign of endometrial (womb) cancer.

Further information can be found at:

  • My Menopause Doctor

  • Menopause Matters

  • Patient.info

  • NHS UK


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