Menopause is a significant period of change and evaluation in many women’s lives. At the menopause, a change in hormones mean that the ovaries are no longer releasing eggs, and menstrual periods cease. Menopause as a diagnosis is made when a woman has not had a period for 12 months. The average age is 51 years in Australia; however menopause may occur prematurely or be induced surgically because of other medical issues. Perimenopause occurs before menopause and is often when symptoms such as mood swings, hot flushes, insomnia, bowel, bladder, and vaginal changes begin.
While about 50% of women, the journey through this stage are manageable symptoms, for some, life can feel unbearable. Physical symptoms like hot flushes, tiredness, sweating, insomnia and restless legs can be debilitating and shocking. Other symptoms like anxiety, depression, and irritability can make you feel like a whole other person. Family planning and contraception are necessary to continue through the perimenopausal period. Menopause also arrives at a time when many women are juggling competing demands of raising teenagers, caring for ageing parents and increased workplace responsibility.
There are many lifestyle and pharmacological options for supporting women and helping you to thrive through this significant life change.
Managing your stress levels, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep for your body’s needs, connecting with loved ones, and eating a variety of nutritious and rainbow-coloured foods will help keep your body healthy. Your GP is available to discuss a wide range of symptom management options including menopause hormone replacement therapy. Your doctor is best placed to offer evidence-based options for symptom management that reflect your individual health needs, risks and benefits.