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30th April 2024

Tips to Manage Menopause Symptoms

Dr. Claire Phipps, GP and Advanced Menopause Specialist, Laura Southern, Nutritional Therapist, and Mr. Tomasz Lukaszewski, Senior Consultant in Reproductive Medicine, talk about the symptoms of menopause and their management and how you can manage them.

What Age Does Menopause Start?

The average age of menopause is 51 years, marking the day when you can retrospectively determine that you have been without a period for 12 consecutive months. Most women will have their last period between 47 and 53 years of age. This can vary depending on ethnicity and genetics. Perimenopause, the transition to your last period and beyond, can start in your early 40s, but no two women are the same.

What Causes Menopause?

Menopause occurs when your periods have stopped for 12 consecutive months, signaling the end of a woman’s reproductive stage. It is caused by the natural decline in the production of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone from the ovaries. As the number of eggs declines with age, so does the production of oestrogen, leading to menopause.

How is Menopause Diagnosed?

Women over the age of 45 with symptoms of perimenopause do not need blood tests to diagnose menopause. In younger women, doctors may carry out hormone blood tests and other profiles to confirm menopause, as it can occur earlier in some women. Accurate diagnosis ensures appropriate treatment.

Common Symptoms of Menopause and Their Management

Perimenopause is the transitional period leading up to menopause, characterized by various physical and emotional symptoms due to hormonal changes. Around 80% of women experience symptoms, with 25% experiencing significant symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  • Changes in libido
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Dry eyes and dry skin

These symptoms result from the gradual decline in ovarian function and hormone production. An individualized approach, including lifestyle changes and treatment options like Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), is essential for managing symptoms. HRT is the gold standard treatment, while other treatments, such as antidepressants, herbal remedies, and cognitive behavioral therapy, are also available.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Menopause Symptoms

Adopting healthy lifestyle changes can significantly alleviate menopause symptoms:

  • Diet: Eat a balanced, varied diet to maintain a healthy weight and improve gut health. Include fermented foods if tolerable.
  • Exercise: Engage in resistance training and aerobics to reduce joint stiffness, promote healthy bones and muscles, and enhance brain function.
  • Stress Reduction: Practice relaxation techniques like yoga, massages, and breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and irritability.

Vaginal Dryness and Its Management

Vaginal dryness is common during menopause due to decreased oestrogen levels. Vaginal oestrogen treatments, available as creams, gels, or pessaries, can provide significant relief. These treatments can be used alongside HRT or on their own.

Managing Lack of Libido

Lack of libido can be a common symptom due to reduced testosterone levels. HRT often helps, and testosterone replacement might be considered for severe cases. Seek medical attention for unusual bleeding or discharge.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

HRT replaces hormones that the ovaries no longer produce, minimizing menopause symptoms and improving quality of life. It helps prevent osteoporosis and cardiovascular issues. HRT involves either combined HRT (oestrogen and progestogen) or oestrogen-only HRT for women who have had a hysterectomy. It should be started after a careful assessment of risks and benefits.

Can Periods Restart After Menopause?

Once you have reached menopause (12 consecutive months without a period), you should not have any further periods. Report any bleeding to your doctor.

Can You Get Pregnant After Menopause?

Women who are perimenopausal are still fertile and should consider contraception. After menopause, fertility treatments like IVF with egg donation may be an option.

Best Supplements for Menopause

Supplements can support menopause management. Key supplements include:

  • Bone Support: Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Stress Support: B complex vitamins, magnesium, and ashwagandha.

Individual needs vary, so consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Can Magnesium Help with Menopause Symptoms?

Magnesium can reduce muscle cramps, support sleep, and alleviate anxiety. Magnesium glycinate or threonate is recommended for sleep and anxiety, while magnesium citrate supports digestion. Magnesium oxide

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