With extensive experience women’s health, Dr Anna Alderton has a special interest in menopause and helping women manage the symptoms of this often misunderstood time in a woman’s life.
Menopause is when a women’s reproductive stage of life ends. The ovaries stop releasing eggs and it is defined as a single point in time, one year after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. Generally, the average Australian woman goes through menopause at the age of 51 years old.
It’s is caused by a drop in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is important for many things in a woman’s body including hair, skin, bones, heart, the urinary tract and the genital area. In fact, every cell has oestrogen receptors in the female body.
Menopause can also occur earlier than expected as a result of health conditions such as primary ovarian insufficiency, after surgery to remove the ovaries, or after cancer treatment.
Before menopause, women experience perimenopause. It’s the five to seven years before your menstrual cycle ends that is associated with changes in both the oestrogen and progesterone in your body.
If you are over 45 years old, your GP will use your menstrual cycle history, and the symptoms you are experiencing, to ascertain if you have entered perimenopause. there is no need for a blood test to officially diagnose perimenopause or menopause.
Menopause affects every woman differently. While some women experience multiple and severe symptoms during menopause, others experience only minor symptoms. Menopause can last up to several years.
Before your period stops completely, you may experience some of the following menopausal symptoms:
After menopause women are also more at risk of developing osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
How menopausal symptoms are treated will differ depending on the individual. The most effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause is to replace the hormones that your body is no longer producing. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)/menopause hormone therapy (MHT) contains oestrogen, and a progestogen (or progesterone) if it’s needed.
A benefit of MHT is that it protects against osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bowel cancer and dementia.
There’s no maximum length of time a woman can take MHT or HRT.
The risks of HRT/MHT are minimal for women within 10 years of her last menstrual period and/or under 60 years old. In most cases, the benefits outweigh the risks.
If women are unable to take MHT, there are non-hormonal options that can be used to help relieve the symptoms of menopause. You can also make lifestyle changes such as:
If you think you may be in perimenopause or reaching menopause, Dr Alderton and the Specialist Women’s Health GPs at our Ferry Road practice can help. They can advise the best treatment for you as an individual and help you live your best life by prescribing treatment to manage your menopause symptoms.
Request to book an appointment online, or call (07) 5594 7632.