Menopause Symptoms and Issues
All women go through the menopause and a few will have no problems. In reality, most women will experience some kind of symptoms due to reduced oestrogen. In every 10 women, about 8 will have some kind of symptoms and 2 of those will have severe symptoms.
Everybody is different and for sometimes this will last for a few months, but it can take a few years, importantly, we can help with your symptoms if needed.
They usually last for minutes and you feel a sudden hot sensation rising up your body. They may make you feel sweaty, giddy or weak. Sometimes you’ll feel your heart racing or anxiety when they happen. They can happen at any time of the day and sometimes you can have more than 15 a day. This may be the first or only sign of the menopause and can go on for a few years.
Sweat waking you at night are common and may mean you need to change your bedding and clothes.
Periods can be very different for each woman. Some will find they gradually tail off, often they will become more unpredictable and can even become a lot heavier as you go through the menopause.
Other common experiences are:
- Sleep disturbance.
- Depression and changes to your mood.
- Joint aches and pains.
- Loss of sex drive (libido).
- Feelings you’re not coping.
- Finding it hard to concentrate or feeling ‘fogged.’
- Urine infections, frequent urination and leakage.
Your body also changes as you go through the menopause:
- Skin and hair: Your skin becomes drier, thinner and more likely to itch.
- Vagina: These tissues also become drier and thinner and your vagina can become slightly smaller and tissues move less during sex which may make it more painful
- Bones: Bones usually thin as we get older and this makes us more prone to fractures if we fall. This thinning happens faster after we go through the menopause and our oestrogen levels fall.
- Cardiovascular disease: Oestrogen helps to protect us against heart disease and stroke because it is thought to delay fatty changes in the blood vessels. Once our oestrogen levels fall this benefit is lost.
Do I need any tests to see if I am going through the menopause?
Generally, we can diagnose the menopause with an understanding of your symptoms. Blood tests are often not helpful to diagnose the menopause (hormones can vary wildly at this time) but may be used to rule out other causes of your symptoms. If you are under 45, your doctor will usually also organise hormonal tests which may be helpful in diagnosing menopause in younger women.
Fertility and the menopause
Fertility is reducing at this time, but it is still possible to get pregnant and it’s advisable to use contraception to prevent pregnancy
- Until a year after your last period if you are 50 or over.
- Until two years after your last period if you are under 50.