%> Granville Family Pharmacy
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Morris Morcos

1 60 South St
Granville NSW 2142
ph: (02) 9637 5765
fax: (02) 9682 6368

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:: Menopause

Healthy Women & Menopause
  Healthy Women
  Menopause

Menopause is the term given to the last menstrual period, and is said to have occurred when a woman has not had a period for 12 months.

If you do stop bleeding for 12 months and then start again it is advisable to see a doctor.

Menopause happens because women run out of eggs and their ovaries stop producing the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. It generally occurs around 50-51 years of age but can happen anywhere from 40 - 65 years of age.
 

Signs & Symptoms

As we approach menopause (perimenopause*), the production of hormones (i.e. oestrogen) by the ovaries starts to slow down. As this process accelerates, hormone levels fluctuate more and often a woman notices changes in her menstrual cycle.

  • Cycles may become longer, shorter or totally irregular
  • Bleeding may become lighter
  • Bleeding may become unpredictable and heavy (seek advice from your doctor)
  • Eventually the hormone levels will fall to a level where menstruation (periods) will cease altogether and menopause is reached. Contraception is needed until you have had one year without a natural period

Other signs and symptoms
The most common symptom is the hot flush; however women may sometimes experience several of the symptoms listed below:

  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Aches and pains
  • Crawling or itching sensations under the skin
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Reduced sex drive (libido)
  • Urinary frequency
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Lack of self esteem
  • Forgetfulness 

Medication:

  • Hormone Therapy (HT) (also known as Hormone Replacement Therapy – HRT) - Hormone therapy (HT) can help relieve the symptoms of menopause, but no treatment is without side effects. Any decision about HRT is an individual one, so talk to your health practitioner about risks, benefits, concerns and other alternatives. It is important that all women using HRT be reviewed once a year by their health practitioner
  • Other (complementary) therapies - Various other therapies such as complementary therapies can be of benefit to some women. It is important to remember that herb and plant medications can have unpleasant side effects in some women, as can prescribed western medications. For long-term guidance and balance through the menopausal years it is important to see a registered naturopath.

Other therapies can often be taken in conjunction with hormone therapy; however it is important to let both your doctor and naturopath know exactly what each has prescribed.
 

Treatment

Healthy eating

Take some time to review your daily nutrition and physical activity to assist in managing any symptoms you may experience.

  • Have plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals and wholegrains
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water daily
  • Decrease intake of caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate)
  • Limit alcohol to one to two standard drinks, or less, per day
  • Eat high-calcium, low-fat dairy foods
  • Include lean meat, fish or chicken in your diet
  • Phytoestrogens (plant oestrogens) replace some natural oestrogens lost during menopause, and may reduce symptoms, cholesterol and blood pressure - good sources include soy and linseed bread, soy beans, tofu, wholegrains and legumes

Regular physical activity

Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week to maintain general health, control weight and help keep bones healthy.

Avoid smoking

Smoking can cause women to reach natural menopause one to two years earlier than non-smokers or ex-smokers. Early onset menopause can be prevented, at least in part, by giving up smoking.

Look after your emotional health

During menopause, you may experience mood changes such as mild depression and irritability, which are often related to physical changes like hot flushes, night sweats and interrupted sleep. Talk to a health practitioner about controlling the physical symptoms to help improve your general wellbeing.

Have regular Pap tests and breast checks

See your health practitioner for a Pap test every two years and regularly check your breasts.
Mammograms are free if you are over 40 years of age – phone BreastScreen on 13 20 50.

 

 

* Perimenopause is the time before a woman stops menstruating completely as oestrogen levels gradually decline.  Symptoms can last for up to 10 years.

 Further Information:

The Australian Menopause Society - www.menopause.org.au
The Jean Hailes Foundation - www.jeanhailes.org.au 
Health Institute Australia - www.healthinstitute.gov.au

 Ask Your Pharmacist about:

  • Managing Menopause
  • Medication that can help relieve the symptoms of menopause 

 

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