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Health Topics - Women's Health - Menopause

Menopause is the term given for the end of a woman's menstrual periods. It has been often referred to as the 'Change of Life' and is very much a natural part of aging. Menopause occurs when the ovaries cease making the hormone called oestrogen. This causes oestrogen levels to drop, and leads to the end of monthly menstrual periods. Generally this occurs between the ages of 45 and 60, although it can happen earlier in the 30's, and is thought that it has occurred after one year without a period. Menopause can also occur when the ovaries are surgically removed or they stop functioning due to other reasons.

What are the signs and symptoms?
There are a wide variety of both physical and psychological changes that may occur. No two women will experience the same or at the same intensity. Some symptoms may be mild or even go unnoticed, for other women the signs may be more obvious. Discuss what you are experiencing with your doctor, and don't assume what is happening for you is related to menopause, it can also be a sign of other illnesses.

Physical signs can include:

  • longer intervals between periods
  • occasional missed period
  • gradual decrease in bleeding
  • hot flushes
  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • palpitations
  • dry vagina
  • bladder infections and thrush

Psychological signs can include:

  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • loss of confidence
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • less interest in sex
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions

What can I do?

  • talk to your GP, or seek help from alternative trained therapists, such as a Herbalist, Homeopath or other therapists that you may interested in
  • visit the Family Planning Association - they have menopause education sessions and clinical services, menopause support groups
  • maintain a healthy diet low in fat, sugars, caffeine and tea and alcohol. Ensure you are having 5+ a day in fruit and vegetables and sufficient carbohydrates.
  • aim for around 1000mg (at least) a day of calcium for your bones. With menopause, women can lose up to 15% of their bone density. For those women who have thin bones this may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).
  • try to get exercise regularly as this can help with some of the physical signs.
  • check out the library for books that can help and offer suggestions

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