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Menopause

  • What is Menopause?

    Menopause refers to the permanent end of menstruation. It is not an illness but the natural end of female fertility. As we age, production of the 2 sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, in the ovaries slows down and the ovaries stop producing eggs.

  • Menopause naturally happens between the ages of 45 – 55 years, although it can occur as early as 30 years or as late as over 60 years.

  • Menopause is different for every woman. You may find life more overwhelming than normal and may not understand why. You may also experience mood swings, from sadness and having low self-esteem to irritability and frustration. Other symptoms of menopause include:

    • Aches, weakness or stiffness caused by reduced oestrogen levels, stress, tension and a lack of exercise
    • Constipation and gas – reduced oestrogen levels cause your digestive tract to slow down
    • Incontinence – Coughing, laughing, exercising or carrying heavy things may cause urine to leak
    • Hot flushes and night sweats from hormonal changes – usually occur at night and may interrupt your sleep:
      1. Hot flushes – red blotches on your chest, back and arms, sometimes with sweating, rapid heartbeat, nausea and dizziness
      2. Night sweats – Sudden intense heat in the upper part or all over your body, particularly the face and neck
    • Poor sleep – usually caused by night sweats but can be a symptom of anxiety or depression
    • Skin and hair changes – your skin becomes thinner and drier, with more bruising and itching, while your hair growth slows down and you hair becomes less manageable
    • Vaginal changes:
      1. Sexual intercourse may be uncomfortable or painful
      2. The skin around the vaginal opening becomes dry and thin, causing discomfort or itching
      3. The vagina becomes more vulnerable to infection
      4. The vaginal lining becomes drier, thinner and less elastic
    • Weight gain around your waist – your body begins to burn calories more slowly, so you need to eat fewer calories
    • Your urethra (tube that carries urine from the bladder) may become inflamed or irritated, thereby causing painful, urgent or frequent urination
  • Most women do not need treatment for menopause. For some women, the symptoms go away by themselves and they do not find the symptoms uncomfortable. If you are troubled by the following symptoms, there are many ways to treat them, such as medications and lifestyle changes:

    • Aches, weakness and stiffness – regular exercise and relaxation practices
    • Constipation and gas – eat high-fibre foods (fruits, wholemeal bread and fresh vegetables)
    • Hot flushes and night sweats – wear cool natural clothing, ie. cotton, drink something cold at the start of a flush, shower with cool water instead of taking warm baths, and avoid alcohol, coffee and spicy food
    • Medication:
      1. Hormone therapy for moderate to severe symptoms
      2. Low-dose oral contraceptives (birth control pills) may stop or reduce hot flushes, vaginal dryness and moodiness
    • Other treatment may help with vaginal and urinary tract changes, eg. use a water-soluble lubricant before sexual intercourse, maintain your personal hygiene and exercise regularly to prevent urinary incontinence (urine leakage)
    • Weight gain – cut down on your calorie intake and exercise regularly
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