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17 Aug, 2016

What  is Menopause - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment for Symptoms

Menopause is a normal condition that all women experience in their lifetime. It marks the time when a woman stops having menstrual periods.Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly.

You are said to have reached menopause, at the point in time,  when you have not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.  Menopause is part of natural ageing. It is usually seen between ages of 45 and 55 years, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline. The process of declining hormone levels prior to menopause is called perimenopause. The average age of menopause is 51 years, although this can vary widely. In India, the average age of menopause is lower.

However, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause.


What are the symptoms of menopause?

Remember, menopause is not a disease, but just a point in a woman's life at which she is no longer fertile, and menstrual periods have stopped. It can be accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms. Most women will experience these symptoms. Examples of these symptoms are:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Period changes
  • Lack of sleep or difficulty in sleeping
  • Mood swings : Low mood or anxiety
  • Lack of interest in sex
  • problems with memory and concentration

Some of these symptoms can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities.

These symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around four years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.


What causes the menopause?

The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body's sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.

It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.

Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases, there's no clear cause.


When to visit your doctor?

It's worth visiting your doctor if you think the menopausal symptoms are troubling you or if you're experiencing these symptoms before 45 years of age.

Your doctor can confirm whether you are menopausal based on your symptoms. Sometimes they a blood test is done to measure your hormone levels to confirm premature menopause especially if these symptoms have started before the age of 45.


Treating menopausal symptoms

There are treatments and lifestyle modification that can help you overcome menopausal symptoms especially if they are severe or they interfere with your day-to-day life. They include:

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oesterogen
  • Vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturizers for vaginal dryness
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly – maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms

For any other Menopause related information, you may consult a Gynaecologist.