UnderstanDing the Menopause
The word, the Menopause, comes from the Greek and means the last period that a woman will have.It can occur naturally or suddenly following removal of the ovaries or sometimes after treatment for cancer. The usual age for a natural menopause is between 45 and 55 years but it can occur earlier or later in some women and it signifies the end of the fertile life of that woman. Periods can stop suddenly but more often, they become increasingly irregular with dysfunctional bleeding before they stop completely. This period is called the Perimenopause and may be the time when symptoms are most troublesome. Flushes and sweats will occur in about 75% of women with 25% of these being affected severely. They may last for up to 7 years and sometimes longer. Other symptoms include mood changes, musculoskeletal symptoms, urogenital symptoms and vaginal dryness, sleep disturbance and sexual disorders.
1 in 100 women will have a premature menopause under the age of 40 and 1 in 1000 women under the age of 30. Women with untreated premature menopause are at increased risk of mortality and serious morbidity, including cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, parkinsonism and osteoporosis.
The menopause can be managed by life style modification, non-hormonal and non-pharmaceutical treatments or appropriately prescribed HRT.
MANAGING THE MENOPAUSE
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
ABOUT PMS | PMDD
PMS is a condition in which distressing physical, behavioural and psychological symptoms occur in the second half of the menstrual cycle and significantly improve or resolve by the end of menstruation. It is experienced by up to 95% of women of child bearing age but 5% will have severe PMS. Symptoms can include depressed mood, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and loss of confidence amongst others.
PMS can be managed by life style changes, appropriate antidepressants or control of the menstrual cycle with hormones depending on the severity.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a common condition affecting many women in the UK, probably 1 in 5 women but over half of these will have no symptoms.
It appears to run in families but its cause is unknown. Symptoms of PCOS usually become apparent in the late teens and early 20s and can include absent or intermittent menstruation, weight gain, fertility problems, acne , excessive hair growth.
Management will depend on whether the woman wants to conceive. Lifestyle changes and weight loss are important and medications are available to help reduce symptoms and regulate the cycle. Women wanting to conceive may need help with fertility treatment in some cases.