October is Menopause Awareness Month and so we wanted to provide a series of pieces about the menopause to help educate and raise greater awareness of the many menopause symptoms.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is said to have occurred when a woman has stopped menstruating for 12 continuous months as a result of lowering oestrogen levels. It can take as many as 10 years of lead up time to reach this point, a period known as perimenopause, in which many women start to show menopause symptoms, some of which can be difficult and distressing. Menopause typical occurs around age 50 (median age is 51 years old), but a small percentage of women experience it earlier, from age 40 onwards.
About the Menopause Symptoms
There really is quite a wide variety of symptoms and many of them can be addressed though various approaches, holistically, as well as medically. If you are finding you have these symptoms and want to explore options, it is definitely advisable to speak to your gynaecologist. Both myself, Dr Madhavi Manoharan, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (OBGYN) and my colleague, Dr Lisa Joels, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, are experienced menopause doctors, working from our dedicated Women’s Health Suite here in Grand Pavilion.
Common symptoms can include:
- Body odour
- Breast tenderness and loss of breast fullness
- Burning mouth sensation, and dry mouth
- Dental problems & metallic taste in the mouth
- Hair loss or thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Fatigue and inability to concentrate
- Sleep problems or insomnia
- Mood changes
- Night sweats
- Irregular periods and/ or skipped periods
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
There is considerable variation from one person to the next, from almost no symptoms to many, and with big differences in the frequency and severity of symptoms. Often women don’t associate many of the above menopause symptoms with menopause until they start seeing irregularities in their periods, and hence the need for greater awareness of just how menopause can affect you.
Are there consequences to menopause symptoms?
For many women, the consequences relate more to the distressing and disruptive nature of the symptoms, for instance the effects of fatigue or say night sweats. However, there is some recent research suggesting women who have two or more serious menopause symptoms are at greater risk for heart disease and stroke. Besides this, the loss of oestrogen production can also lead to other health issues, some of which can be quite serious. This is a topic in its own right, and the subject of our next piece.
In the meantime, if you have any concerns, we’d be delighted to help: