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Female Menopause:
E
very woman will go through the menopause,
but each experience of it is different.
It doesn't happen at a particular age or last for
a fixed period of time, and it can cause a variety of
different symptoms both physical and emotional.
The menopause can be an unsettling time in a
woman's life, while some women go through it with
no problems.
The menopause is the time when a woman's
periods stop. It happens because as women age,
they slowly run out of eggs. Some scientists believe
this happens to protect women and their children
from the dangers of late childbearing.
WHEN WILL I GO THROUGH THE
MENOPAUSE?
The average age that women go through the
menopause is 52, but a woman could start to
experience menopausal symptoms between the
ages of 45 and 55. The symptoms can last two to
five years.
Medical conditions can cause the
menopause to happen much earlier, sometimes in
a woman's 20s or, in extreme cases, in childhood.
This is known as premature ovarian failure (POF).
MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS
Changes in hormone levels can produce different
symptoms. It's estimated that around two-thirds of
women experience the most common symptoms
of hot flushes and night sweats. However, some
women also report psychological symptoms,
including depression, tiredness, lack of energy
and vaginal dryness, which can be associated with a
reduced interest in sex.
Long-term effects of the menopause
include increased risk of osteoporosis and
cardiovascular disease.
OSTEOPOROSIS AFTER THE MENOPAUSE
Bone strength depends on bone tissue density and
structure. Reduced amounts of minerals in the bone
and slower production or replacement of bone cells
weakens bones.
This happens to everybody as they age, but
the change is faster in women after the menopause.
This is why one in three women over 50 has
osteoporosis, compared with only one in 12 men.
Osteoporosis increases the risk of breaking bones,
especially those in the wrist, hip or spine. One
in seven British women breaks a hip after the
menopause.
Because oestrogen is important for healthy
bone growth, hormone replacement therapy
(HRT) can help to protect a woman's bones from
osteoporosis whilst she is on treatment.
BREAST CHANGES AFTER THE MENOPAUSE
After the menopause it's natural for your breasts
to lose their firmness, change shape, shrink in size,
become less dense and become more prone to
certain abnormal lumps.
HEART DISEASE AFTER THE MENOPAUSE
Cardiovascular disease is any disease of the heart or
blood vessels, including heart attacks and strokes,
usually caused by blocked arteries. It is the most
common cause of death in women over 60, and
there is evidence to suggest that women are more
likely to get blocked arteries after the menopause.
MENOPAUSE TREATMENTS
As well as helping to protect women from
osteoporosis, hormone replacement therapy
(HRT) is extremely good at controlling menopausal
symptoms.
HRT can however, in some women, slightly
increase the risk of developing conditions such as
breast cancer, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), stroke
and heart disease.
If your menopausal symptoms are troubling
you, have a chat about the risks and benefits of HRT
with your GP to help you decide if you want to try it.
Read more about HRT.
Lifestyle changes such as changing your
diet and doing more exercise can also help with
symptoms of the menopause.