What is the Menopause?

Menopause literally means end of menstrual cycle. This is often a retrospective diagnosis. A few months to years before the menopause ovarian function declines and the periods become irregular, unpredictable and eventually stop.  

Perimenopause is a period that often precedes menopause and can last between 6months and 10 years. During perimenopause, women get some symptoms of menopause, but periods continue. The ovaries continue to produce some hormones but not as much as before. 

 

What is the average age of menopause? 

Average age of menopause is 51 years. This can be different for you depending on your ethnicity and genetics. 

 

My mother stopped having periods in her early 40s. What does it mean for me? 

This may mean that your periods may stop at that age too, but not necessarily. It may be more pragmatic to think about starting a family earlier, certainly by mid-thirties. 

 

What are the common symptoms? 

Not all women will get symptoms of menopause. Commonest symptoms are hot flushes and night sweats. Other symptoms include poor quality of sleep, inability to concentrate, mood swings, low energy and reduced sex drive. Vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex and urinary frequency are also common. 

Click here to read our page on menopause symptoms.

 

Can menopause affect my long term health? 

Menopause can lead to physiological changes that can affect your health adversely. Osteoporosis is one such problem due to lack of oestrogen. The bones become thinner and less strong leading to increased risk of fractures. Oestrogen is also shown to be good for cardiovascular health. Menopause can alter your metabolism and may lead to weight gain.  

 

Why do I need HRT? 

HRT stands for hormone replacement therapy and literally means replacing the hormones that your ovary was producing.   

Replacing oestrogen is the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. Progesterone is required to counter-balance the effect of oestrogen on uterine lining. 

Many women choose HRT to “stay younger for longer”. HRT will not halt the process of aging but often improves quality of life. It also has other benefits such as stronger bones and cardiovascular health. Please refer to the section of HRT for more detailed information. 

 

I am already on HRT. How long can I continue taking it? 

Current evidence suggests that you can safely stay on HRT till 60 years of age. You should have an annual review with your GP or your specialist. This decision however needs to be made on a case by case basis and your specialist will be able to guide you. In selected women, it is feasible to continue HRT in some form even beyond 60 years of age.