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Menopause

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Ensuring a healthy diet and preventing weight gain can reduce the severity of symptoms of menopause and minimising your intake of caffeine, alcohol or spicy foods may help. HRT is a solution for some, however others choose to tackle their symptoms naturally. There are a number of alternative menopause remedies that may help.Don’t suffer in silence. A conversation with your GP or a women’s health specialist can help you understand what treatment is right for you .

Perimenopause

The years leading up to the menopause aren’t as straightforward as many women imagine. In fact, some find themselves experiencing a hormonal turbulence reminiscent of their teenage years. This is the perimenopause. In the UK, the average age of the last period is 52, so many women expect their 40’s to be a relatively stable time until they reach menopause. For many, it’s simply not the case. They find themselves, often without realising at first, in the grip of a condition known as perimenopause, a relatively new term simply meaning, ‘around the menopause’. It affects women in different ways but in short, it amounts to a drawn out bout of hormonal instability in the lead up to menopause.

Contrary to what you might expect, periods don’t tend to get lighter and further apart, rather they get closer together and the intensity steps up. This is fairly common for all women before menopause, but it’s the symptoms associated with the premenstrual part of the cycle that can really begin to impact your life. Here are some signs you’re there:

You’re getting emotional – We all get upset from time to time, but perimenopausal women may find themselves easily irritated and crying at things that they would never have cried at before. This heightened emotional state can make life at home and in the workplace more difficult and many women lose confidence in their ability to cope with everyday things.

Sleep eludes you – We all need a good night’s sleep and perimenopause has been known to disrupt natural sleeping patterns, robbing women of the deep restorative sleep they need to face the day. It can leave you feeling exhausted and exacerbates the other symptoms of perimenopause.

There’s a freight train running through your brain – Some women suffer from incredible headaches with flu-like symptoms that make them feel like they can’t get out of bed. Like many symptoms of perimenopause, women don’t realiseit is part of an underlying problem and simply try to work through it with painkillers.

You’re forgetful and can’t concentrate – No you’re not losing your mind; hormones are clouding your thought patterns and blocking memory retrieval. This symptom can make it difficult to focus on tasks or work through problems, which is especially worrying in the workplace, there women can suddenly feel inadequate and lose confidence.

You feel beyond your years – Hormone interruption has many women suffering joint pain, which really adds insult to injury, leaving you feeling like you can’t enjoy the activities you like to do.

Many women are concerned that this is not normal but perimenopause actually affects most women at some stage in their lives. If you are suffering, you’re not alone and it is worth asking for help. It may be as simple as revisiting contraception choices or it may be worth exploring gentle and appropriate hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Talking about it is the first step to taking back control of your quality of life.

Menopause happens when a woman’s menstruation cycle reduces and stops. The amount of the hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) your ovaries produce at this time drops significantly. Sometimes called "the change" you may find you view menopause with mixed feelings as you recognise a different stage in your life. Menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. Premature menopause can occur due to chromosomal disorders, autoimmune disorders, following surgical removal of the uterus and/or ovaries (hysterectomy) or following chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Common issues with the menopause

In the run-up to the menopause, periods become very erratic, and sometimes heavy. Your periods will usually not stop suddenly, but become less frequent and then stop gradually. The menopause also sometimes aggravates osteoporosis when bone mass is lost because of the reduced levels of some hormones.

Menopausal women often experience:

  • Tiredness
  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats and sleeplessness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Headache and joint pain
  • Grogginess
  • Depression
  • Difficulty doing usual tasks
  • Reduced sex drive

Talk to your doctor or women’s health specialist to understand what treatment is right for you. HRT may be your chosen method of dealing with the symptoms, however there are also a number of natural remedies and supplements that may help.

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