The menopause is when ladies’s intervals cease and so they can not change into pregnant naturally.
The menopause is a pure a part of ageing which usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, however will also be introduced on by surgical procedure to take away the ovaries or the womb (hysterectomy).
Within the UK, the typical age of menopause is 51.
So what’s behind the change?
Hormones, particularly one referred to as oestrogen.
It’s essential to the entire month-to-month reproductive cycle – the event and launch of an egg from the ovaries every month for fertilisation and the thickening of the liner of the womb prepared to just accept the fertilised egg.
However as ladies age and their retailer of eggs declines, ovulation, intervals and pregnancies cease.
And the physique regularly stops producing oestrogen, which controls the entire course of.
This does not occur in a single day although.
It might take a number of years for this significant hormone to fall to low ranges – after which it stays that manner.
What impression do hormone modifications have?
The mind, pores and skin, muscular tissues and feelings are all affected by falling ranges of oestrogen.
The physique can begin to behave very otherwise and many ladies expertise signs lengthy earlier than their intervals really cease – throughout what is named the peri-menopause.
Sizzling flushes, evening sweats, sleep issues, nervousness, low temper and lack of curiosity in intercourse are frequent.
Bladder issues and vaginal dryness are additionally regular throughout this time.
When oestrogen manufacturing stops altogether, there’s a long-term impact on the bones and coronary heart. Bones can weaken, making fractures extra probably, and ladies can change into extra susceptible to coronary heart illness and stroke.
That is why ladies are supplied hormone substitute remedy, or HRT, which boosts oestrogen ranges and helps to alleviate signs.
However not all ladies expertise signs. They’ll additionally differ of their severity and the way lengthy they final – from just a few months to a number of years.
So what causes scorching flushes?
A scarcity of oestrogen. It’s concerned within the workings of the physique’s thermostat within the mind.
Usually, the physique copes nicely with temperature modifications, however when oestrogen is missing, the thermostat goes wonky and the mind thinks the physique is overheating when it is not.
Does oestrogen have an effect on temper too?
Sure, it may possibly do.
The hormone interacts with chemical substances in mind receptors which management temper, and at low ranges it may possibly trigger nervousness and low temper.
A scarcity of oestrogen can even have an effect on the pores and skin, making it really feel dry or as if bugs are crawling below the pores and skin.
Are different hormones concerned?
Sure, progesterone and testosterone – however they do not have the identical impression as low ranges of oestrogen.
Progesterone helps to organize the physique for being pregnant each month, and it declines when intervals cease.
Testosterone, which ladies produce in low ranges, has been linked to intercourse drive and power ranges.
It declines from the 30s onwards, and small numbers of ladies want it topped up.
So how have you learnt in case you’re going by way of it?
It’s potential to take a blood check to ranges of a hormone referred to as FSH (follicle-stimulating hormones) nevertheless it’s not very correct, significantly over the age of 45.
Consultants say hormone ranges go up and down on a regular basis, throughout the course of a day, so the check cannot actually pin down what is going on on.
A greater manner is to speak to a GP or nurse concerning the sample of your intervals and any signs you might be experiencing.
Understanding what signs to look out for is vital – feeling low and irritable must be recognised as a lot as scorching flushes and evening sweats.
A change in intervals – changing into extra heavy or extra irregular – is among the first indicators of the menopause approaching.
Till you might be period-free for a yr, you will not know you’ve got really gone by way of the menopause.
Nicely, oestrogen ranges within the physique do not get well after the menopause.
With rising life expectancy, ladies are actually residing greater than a 3rd of their lives with oestrogen deficiency.
However there isn’t any motive to be cowed, says Dr Heather Currie, gynaecologist, menopause professional and previous chairwoman of the British Menopause Society.
“Ladies are persevering with to work later in life, they nonetheless look wonderful – the picture of the menopause is altering.”
Her recommendation: “When you’re affected, go and go to your GP surgical procedure armed with data.
“Ladies ought to know what signs to look out for.”
She says there may be loads of help and knowledge to assist ladies address the bodily and emotional modifications which the menopause brings.
Hormone substitute remedy is seen as the simplest remedy accessible for menopausal signs.
There was debate over its long-term security, and it may possibly trigger some side-effects, nevertheless it has been proven that “the advantages of HRT outweigh the dangers”, Dr Currie says.
Speaking to different ladies going by way of the menopause and experiencing the identical signs can also be an actual assist, she provides.
And the menopause is one other good motive for girls to steer a wholesome way of life by:
- consuming a balanced weight loss program, low in fats and excessive in calcium to strengthen bones and shield the guts
- exercising often, to scale back nervousness, stress and guard towards coronary heart illness
- stopping smoking, to stop coronary heart illness and scorching flushes
- not ingesting an excessive amount of, to scale back scorching flushes
Doing these items will assist to scale back the consequences of the menopause on the physique.