MENOPAUSE is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. It is the time in a woman's life when the function of the ovaries ceases .The process of menopause does not occur overnight, but rather is a gradual process. This so-called perimenopausal transition period is a different experience for each woman. The average age of menopause is 51 years old, but menopause may occur as early as the 30s or as late as the 60sCertain medical and surgical conditions can influence the timing of menopause like surgical removal of ovaries (surgical menopause) or radiotherapy which result in an immediate menopause without transition.
Premature ovarian failure is defined as the occurrence of menopause before the age of 40.
Some women may experience few or no symptoms of menopause, while others experience multiple physical and psychological symptoms like irregular cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, mood changes, irritability, memory problems, vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, recurrent urine infections, decreased libido, fatigue and backache.
Include mainly osteoporosis and heart disease
Whilst menopause is a totally natural life transition it can be difficult for many women. A multi disciplinary approach with adequate support and care will help.
Careful history, general examination, pelvic and breast examination along with investigations like PAP smear, ultrasound abdomen, calcium and D3 levels, mammogram and DEXA scan are needed.
- Lifestyle changes including cessation of cigarette smoking, curtailing alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and consuming a balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D.
- Avoid potential triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol for hot flashes.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements may be recommended for women who do not consume sufficient quantities of these nutrients.
- Medications that stop bone loss and increase bone strength.
- The main treatment for menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), HRT is available as tablets, skin patches, a gel to rub into the skin or implants.
- Other treatments are also available like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
- CBT is a type of talking therapy that can improve low mood and feelings of anxiety.