What is Menopause
When this happens, you start experiencing the classic symptoms of menopause such as Hot Flushes, Night Sweats, Vaginal Dryness, Irritability, Mood Swings, Headaches, Low energy and Low libido. In some women it starts in their mid 30’s. Other’s go through menopause in their late 40’s or even 50’s. Some women may experience these symptoms for months or for years afterwards, generally menopause would last an average of 2 to 5 years. Menopause is a normal part of life just like puberty it is not a disease. Menopause can be officially declared when there has been a absence of menstruation for more than 12 months. Menopause is generally preceded by peri menopause which is a transitional stage with some of the symptoms of menopause and is usually accompanied by irregular periods. There are however, many signs that lead up to menopause and many of these signs or symptoms will extend beyond the actual start of Menopause. These signs are related to the hormonal changes a woman’s body is experiencing and they effect each woman in different ways. Similarly men go through this “change of life” which is call Andropause. If you would like to know more about Menopause and Menopausal Symptoms please feel free to Fill out the form Above
How long does Menopause last and how long will I be on treatment?
Menopause lasts on average, approximately 5 years. However, this could be a lot shorter but could also be a lot longer. It is normal for women to remain on the treatment program from anywhere between 2 to 5 years and some women may require treatment beyond 5 years.
The Australia Menopause Centre monitors your progress while you are on the treatment program. This enables us to determine intermittently how you may coping with your supplementation, and whether we will be doing ongoing testing, and monitoring of your symptoms to help guide you through your Menopause.
I am experiencing a crawling sensation under my skin. Is this related to Menopause?
Many women describe this symptom of severe itchiness – likened to “an insect crawling under the skin”. This is called “Formication” and is well described as a common symptom of Menopause. For most women, Estrogen supplementation will treat this symptom rapidly.
Where does BHRT come from and how is your medication made up?
The BHRT structure of BHRT is similar to the biochemical structure of the hormones that your body produces naturally. The active ingredients in BHRT are derived from Wild Yam. They can only be compounded and dispensed if prescribed for you by a doctor as the strength of these hormones can be concentrated to achieve almost any required strength. Your symptoms are mostly dose-specific i.e. the more severe your symptoms, generally the stronger the BHRT required to overcome them. BHRT is made up on a patient by patient basis and is not dispensed in any standard one-size-fits-all dose.
Your BHRT medication will be individually compounded specifically for you as prescribed by our doctors according to the individualised dose and combination you require. If your symptoms change, so too, can your medication be fine tuned to suit your needs.
The benefits of customized compounding of your BHRT include:
- By providing you with as low-a-dose as you require, side effects or oversensitivity to the treatment can be avoided
- Some women have hormone fluctuations and symptom fluctuations throughout the month. The compounding of dosage can accommodate these fluctuations
- By providing the minimum dose required, it allows for more simple and speedy weaning off when the time comes.
- All women are different. The dose can be specifically adjusted to suit your individual needs
- While weaning off your treatment, minor changes to either or both hormones can be made to achieve a more gradual and balanced reduction process. This will allow your body to better acclimatize to lower hormone levels.
The pharmacies that compounds the medication is a dedicated compounding pharmacies and are amoung the largest compounding facility in Australia. The chief compounding pharmacists are amoung the most experienced in Australia with many years in the field. Only British Pharmacopoeia (BP) or United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) grade products are used. Good Compounding practices and principles are regularlay review ensuring a high quality at all times.
Is a woman’s memory worse after Menopause?
Many women do believe that their memory worsens after Menopause. Menopause is characterized by declining levels of Oestrogen, and Oestrogen is known to have effects on the brain and nervous system, including playing roles in the signaling system of the brain and control of blood flow within the brain. A decrease in Oestrogen levels, therefore, might reasonably be expected to alter the function of the brain.
However, a controlled study published in 2003 of brain function in over 800 women who were either Pre-Menopasual, going through Menopause, or post Menopausal, failed to show any decline in brain function associated with Menopause. Newer studies have confirmed that memory, per-se, appears not to be affected by Menopause, but that women approaching Menopause who complained about memory loss had, instead, difficulties encoding or processing new information.
The exact relationship of brain function and Menopause is unclear, and further research is needed to clarify the complex interaction of changing hormone levels on brain function. One compounding factor is that many women who are approaching Menopause lead very hectic, stressful lives and may experience anxiety and/or depression, both of which can affect retention and learning skills.
What conditions can affect the timing of Menopause?
Certain medical and surgical conditions can influence the timing of Menopause.
Surgical removal of the ovaries
The surgical removal of the ovaries (Oophorectomy) in an ovulating woman will result in an immediate menopause, sometimes termed a surgical menopause. In this case, there is no Peri-Menopause, and after surgery, a woman will generally experience the signs and symptoms of menopause. In cases of surgical menopause, women often report that the abrupt onset of menopausal symptoms results in particularly severe symptoms, but this is not always the case.
The ovaries are often removed together with the removal of the uterus. If a hysterectomy is performed without removal of both ovaries in a woman who has not yet reached menopause, the remaining ovary or ovaries are still capable of normal hormone production. While a woman cannot menstruate after the uterus is removed by a hysterectomy, the ovaries themselves can continue to produce hormones up until the normal time when menopause would naturally occur. At this time a woman could experience the other symptoms of menopause like hot flushes and mood swings. These symptoms would then not be associated with the cessation of menstruation. Another possibility is that ovarian failure will occur earlier than the expected time of menopause, as early as 1-2 years following the hysterectomy. If this happens, a woman may or may not experience symptoms of menopause.
Cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy
Depending upon the type and location of the cancer and its treatment, these types of cancer therapy can result in menopause if given to an ovulating woman. In this case, the symptoms of menopause may begin during the cancer treatment or may develop in the months following the treatment.
Premature ovarian failure
Premature ovarian failure is defined as the occurrence of menopause before the age of 40. This condition occurs in about 1% of all women. The cause of premature ovarian failure is not fully understood, but it may be related to Autoimmune Diseases or inherited (genetic) factors.
Weaning off the treatment program
When the time comes to start the weaning off process, here are a few hints to make it more successful:
- Avoid weaning off your treatment in Spring or Summer. The heat can make things far more difficult. Rather consider weaning off towards the end of summer, autumn or winter when a few hot flushes may in fact warm you up.
- Avoid weaning off if you are planning a holiday away or going overseas. It could turn the holiday into a difficult time.
- Don’t rush through the weaning off process. At each new lowered level, give your body some time to acclimatize to this new level of hormone. If the symptoms start to come back slightly, pause on this new level for a while or go back up slightly to attain that comfort zone.
- Rather take the prescribed dose and arrange for a lowered prescribed dose as opposed to cutting your dosage in half or quarters. Achieving the new balance may not be as simple as taking half of both hormones but may require that you reduce one hormone relative to the other. We also prefer that you are on a certain minimum level of progesterone if you are on estrogen as it provides protection to your uterus.
The duration of the complete process of weaning off your NHRT program may vary but may be as short as just a few months. Of course, if any symptoms return during the weaning off process, please contact us and we can discuss the options.
Does HRT cause weight gain?
Oestrogen has the capacity to retain fluid. The fluid may accumulate around the abdomen and within the breasts making the breasts feel more full and sometimes engorged and painful. Generally the body learns to cope with this fluid if the Hormone Replacement Therapy is well balanced, preventing long term weight gain. In some women, progesterone has a diuretic-like action so correct balancing of Estrogen and Progesterone may prevent in excess fluid retention.
Do all women experience the same symptoms of Menopause?
Not all women experience symptoms of Menopause. Some women make the transition without any symptoms at all. On the other hand, some women have severe symptoms that interfere significantly with their quality of life. Although there are a variety of symptoms related to the hormonal changes of Menopause, I generally use the frequency and severity of hot flushes as an indicator of the “degree” of Menopause. I refer to Menopause as being mild, moderate or severe depending on the number of hot flushes and night sweats per 24 hour period. Although it doesn’t include all types of Menopause presentations, it is a useful tool to monitor progress on treatment.
For some women, symptoms may be skin or vaginal dryness only; others may have low mood and irritability; and others have generalized aches and pains and/or low sex drive. Many women have all of these to deal with. It seems like it all comes down to “luck” but they are likely to be genetic, dietary, social and environmental influences.
I am experiencing irregular bleeding. Should I be concerned?
One of the symptoms of early Menopause is irregular bleeding. Your periods may become heavier, lighter, shorter, longer or erratic. Eventually the menstrual bleeding will stop altogether. Although this is part of the Menopause process, it is always important to maintain a healthy suspicion for irregular bleeding. Maintain regular (two yearly) pap smears and have a low threshold to present to your doctor if you are concerned about your menstrual bleeding irregularities. Your doctor may want to do further investigations to exclude anything sinister.
Do men also go through Menopause?
The important “sex hormone” for men is Testosterone. Men reach their peak of Testosterone around the age of 18 and then decline slowly at an average of 1% per year there after. In some men, this level of testosterone may fall significantly enough to produce symptoms. It may occur as early as age 35 but is usually more often seen in men over 50. Symptoms include low sex drive, weak erections, low energy, irritability and moodiness, muscle loss, low motivation.
Diagnosis can be made by doing a blood test for Testosterone level. A low Testosterone can be treated by supplementing the hormone. Results can be quite dramatic.
I am getting headaches at the same time each month. Are they hormonal?
Cyclical headaches, occuring around about the same time each month, are often related to your cyclical hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Most women experience them as their period approaches each month. At this stage in the menstrual cycle, the estrogen levels may be high relative to your progesterone levels. This I refer to as “estrogen dominance”.
How to treat: Many women respond very well to progesterone supplementation, taken either throughout the cycle (except those days of menstruation) or for the 2nd two weeks of the cycle leading up to the menstrual period. It has the potential of preventing these headaches altogether.
Caution: If the headaches persist, further investigation may be required.
Can I do anything for vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness is most commonly associated with thinning of the the vaginal wall. It occurs as a result of Estrogen Deficiency. It also results in the vagina becoming more alkaline. The resulting lack of lubrication can make sexual intercourse painful, predispose the vagina to repeated infection and may result in a reduced desire for sex as a consequence. Application of estrogen into the vagina in the form of a pessary or cream can have dramatic and rapid improvement.
At what age should I expect to be Menopausal?
The average age of onset for the symptoms of Menopause is between 48 and 52 years. However, it can start at a much younger age or it may pass unnoticed until your late 50’s. Most commonly, women present with symptoms from age 45 onwards. Women who present with symptoms under the age of 40 may have premature ovarian failure. Early onset of Menopause is often common within a family i.e. your mother or your sister also started having Menopause symptoms at an early age. Women who start Menopause at an earlier age are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis later on in life.
What Is the Difference Between Perimenopause and Menopause?
Peri menopause is the phase before menopause, although many people mistake them for each other and don’t distinguish between the two. Menopause is when you have been period-free for a whole year. Perimenopause is the time frame before this and the length of perimenopause can vary from one year to ten. It is during perimenopause that women encounter menopausal symptoms, although some of these can continue into menopause and post menopause. The ovaries are preparing for the cessation of their main role, which causes a hormonal imbalance. It is this hormonal change that causes menopausal symptoms.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Menopause?
Generally speaking, six of the menopause symptoms tend to occur more frequently than the others. These six symptoms are:
These are the “big six” to look out for, but it is unlikely that you will suffer from all of these during your menopausal transition. Aside from these six, there are also changes and pains that can trouble a menopausal woman. These can stretch from fatigue to hair loss, from breast pain to electric shocks. In conclusion, it is unlikely that you will suffer from all of the menopause symptoms – one of the reasons being that it is hard to categorize all of them. The most likely scenario is that you will suffer from one or two. Keep in mind that all of menopause symptoms are treatable.
How to Manage Your Menopause Symptoms in the Workplace
Although menopause is not contagious its effects not only you but your colleagues in the workplace. More than 50% of women experience menopause and struggle with its symptoms daily. From sleep deprivation to memory loss it can wreck havoc on both the body and mind. In the workplace most working women are financially hitting their peak but as menopause hits and the hot flashes begin suddenly everything can seem like it´s unraveling.
Gain back your body and work life by implementing these few tips:
– touted as one the best stress relievers and recommended by experts exercise not only releases the mood enhancing chemical serotonin but improves your overall physical health. Light to moderate intensity activity for thirty minutes a day, four times a week can be the difference between your colleagues running away from you in blinding fear of or coming to you for advice.
– repeating a simple mantra can go a far way to calming your heart rate. When you feel the urge to scream after a mood swing erupts, stop and take a few deep breathes then repeat a calming phrase. If meditation is not the solution you´re looking for a variety of stress relieving techniques such as yoga or acupuncture are proven to have positive effects on reducing stress.
– kick the caffeine habit to the curb and indulge in water and complex carbohydrates to help kick-start your endorphins and increase your cardiovascular fitness.
Navigating the Emotional Effects of Menopause
Going through menopause is a difficult time for every woman. Some feel as though they are losing their youth, along with gaining the many unpleasant side effects that come along with menopause. But there are some tried and true things you can try to help you fight the menopause blues and end up happily on the other side.
Take Time For Yourself
You have spent years tending to other people’s needs and wants; now take some time for yourself. Whether you enjoy reading, writing, running, kayaking, shopping or a spa getaway, make it happen. It can be a big weekend or something you promise you will do for yourself every day. You have to make time for yourself to reflect on your life and allow yourself to accept the change that is happening. If you don’t gradually accept these changes, it is possible that it will hit you all at once and you will find yourself more depressed and frustrated.
Talk to Your Friends
Who better to discuss menopause with than someone who is going through the exact same thing? It is more likely than not that a majority of your friends are going through the same thing you are, and would relish the idea of being about to talk to someone too. Go grab a chai tea, sit down and vent to each other.
No-one else will be able to help you through this time in your life better than a good friend with first-hand knowledge. Now, you don’t need to get all graphic about the details of your menopause, but sharing your feelings about it will help you accept it.
Eat Healthy and Exercise
It is proven that exercising produces endorphins that boost your energy and mood. It is so easy, just put on a pair of tennis shoes and go for a walk or a jog. Take up yoga, Pilates, water aerobics or zumba. All of these exercises will help you beat menopausal depression while shrinking your waistline.
Is Breast Pain Normal during Menopause?
Breast pain is a common complaint among females, affecting as many as 70% of women at some point in their lives. Only a small percentage of these women, about 10%, will experience severe breast pain, which can have a significant impact on relationships, work, and daily life.
Breast pain is normal and common in perimenopause, or the years leading up to the cessation of menstruation
What Causes Breast Pain during Menopause?
Hormonal change is the most likely cause of cyclical breast pain and tenderness during menopause. During the menopausal transition, normal spikes and dips in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones can lead some women to experience breast pain. For some women, breast pain is caused by too little or too much oestrogen, while others experience breast pain because of too little progesterone.
Is Depression Normal When Going Through Menopause?
Yes. Depression is a common symptom of menopause, affecting up to 30% of menopausal women. Women preparing to enter menopause are four times more likely to fall into depression than women who are not yet at that stage in life.
What Is the Best Way to Cope with Depression during Menopause?
The best way to deal with menopause-related depression is to correct the hormonal imbalance that’s causing it, preferably with the help of a gentle alternative treatment, like herbal supplements. In the meantime, several easy lifestyle changes can also help to relieve mild depression, like getting improved sleep, exercise, and diet, engaging in relaxing activities, reconnecting with old friends, and talking to a therapist or support group.
Is Difficulty Concentrating Normal during Menopause?
Yes, difficulty concentrating is a normal occurrence for women of menopausal age. It is a direct result of fluctuating hormone levels and is widely experienced in varying degrees of severity. Studies have shown that up to 2/3 of women experience some aspects of difficulty concentrating during menopause.
What Is the Cause of Difficulty Concentrating?
For women of menopausal age, the most likely cause of difficulty concentrating is a change in hormonal levels, particularly oestrogen. Estrogen has a direct effect on the production levels of neurotransmitters in the brain which control cognitive function, namely serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine. When oestrogen levels fluctuate, the production of these important neurotransmitters fluctuates as well. This leads to typical symptoms such as memory lapses or difficulty concentrating. In addition, oestrogen helps regulate the level of blood flow to the brain. If blood flow decreases, so will a woman’s ability to concentrate.
Is fatigue normal during menopause?
Due to fluctuating hormone levels in menopausal women, fatigue affects a high percentage of the population. In fact, up to 80% of working women report feeling fatigued on a consistent basis. Taking into account other symptoms of menopause such as night sweats and insomnia, it is no wonder that fatigue is so common.
What causes fatigue?
For women undergoing the menopausal transition, the most likely cause of fatigue is the fluctuation in hormones that occurs naturally at this time. Hormones are responsible for controlling energy at the cellular level, thus when levels of oestrogen and progesterone decrease, so do energy levels. Compounding this, hormones also play a role in regulating the sleep cycle. These fluctuations will also affect a woman’s ability to get a good night of rest, leading to fatigue in the morning. In less common situations for women in the menopausal transition, there are a number of other medical conditions that are liable to cause fatigue
What Is Vaginal Dryness?
Vaginal dryness, known medically as “atrophic vaginitis”, is defined as insufficient moisture of the vaginal walls and opening. The body naturally produces a thin layer of moisture to lubricate the vagina. It does so by secreting a clear liquid from the walls of the blood vessels in the vagina. When the body produces less lubrication, as occurs with the menopausal drop in estrogen levels, a woman can experience the unpleasant symptoms of vaginal dryness.
What Else Can Cause Vaginal Dryness?
In addition to hormonal changes during menopause, other factors can cause or contribute to vaginal dryness. Some are also related to hormone changes, while others involve other physiological and environmental factors. Hormonal Causes Pregnancy/childbirth Breastfeeding Hormonal birth control Hormone replacement therapy
How Common Is Vaginal Dryness during Menopause?
Vaginal dryness is a very common symptom of menopause. While statistics vary slightly by source, most experts estimate that 40 to 60% of women will develop vaginal dryness at some point during the menopausal transition. Some women experience this symptom before the cessation of menstruation, while others will experience vaginal dryness in the years following menopause. The average age of menopause is approximately 52; thus, the onset of vaginal dryness is typically ages 40 through 55. As it is such a common symptom of menopause, women may be interested in learning how to cope with this frustrating symptom. Keep reading to learn about simple measures that can be taken in the privacy of one’s home to alleviate the effects of vaginal dryness.
Is Weight Gain Normal during Menopause?
Yes. Weight gain is normal and extremely common for women going through menopause. It is perhaps the most common symptom of menopause, with about 90% of menopausal women gaining some amount of weight during this time.
Why Does Weight Gain during Menopause Tend to Accumulate Around the Mid-section?
The reason menopausal women tend to accumulate new weight around the abdomen is because their androgen hormonal levels begin to rise with the onset of menopause. These male hormones direct excess weight to the mid-section as opposed to the hips, where many women are accustomed to gaining weight. Some women even have a nickname for the menopause years based on the mid-section weight gain: “the middle-age spread.”
Fact 1 About Menopause : Four out of five women say that menopause did not decrease their quality of life.
In fact, not all women experience menopause symptoms. For those that do, only one in 10 report ever feeling clinically depressed. While menopause is no walk in the park, there are a lot of stories that may make it seem scarier than it actually is.
Fact 2 About Menopause Nine out of 10 women have hot flushes.
Although they vary in frequency and intensity, hot flashes are among the most common menopause symptoms. If you’re already experiencing menopause, the good news is that they do tend to decrease over time. Most times, a woman has the most severe hot flashes at the onset of menopause.
Fact 3 About Menopause You can still make a baby during menopause.
Don’t throw out those birth control pills and condoms just yet. Not only can you get pregnant during menopause, but this age group has the second highest rate of unplanned pregnancies.
What is Melatonin ?
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour “clock” that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. When it is dark, your body produces more melatonin; when it is light, the production of melatonin drops. Being exposed to bright lights in the evening or too little light during the day can disrupt the body’s normal melatonin cycles. For example, jet lag, shift work, and poor vision can disrupt melatonin cycles. Melatonin also helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps determine when a woman starts to menstruate, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when a woman stops menstruating (menopause). Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may help strengthen the immune system. Melatonin has been approved by the TGA for use in Australia to treat insomnia.