The Menopause is an inevitable part of life for women living into their mid fifties. With increasing life expectancy many women will live longer in this post-menopausal phase of their lives than they did in their reproductive years.
It is essential that we raise awareness of this issue, and that so much can be done safely to reduce the problems that women experience.
The problem is a simple one in that the ovaries stop working properly and stop producing hormones. Women experience problems because of this lack of hormones.
How women react to this drop in hormone levels varies enormously. Some women will notice very little, some women’s lives are devastated.
In addition to the symptoms that everyone knows about, hot flushes and sweats, women also suffer from disturbed sleep which leads to tiredness, irritability and poor concentration. Women often worry that they are not functioning as well as before, are perhaps not being taken seriously at work and become concerned that they might make mistakes. This combination may lead to increased anxiety.
The tissues most sensitive to oestrogen deficiency are in the urogenital tract so it is not surprising that women notice changes in sexual and bladder function. Vaginal dryness, loss of libido, urinary tract infections and urinary frequency are particularly common problems.
Osteoporosis accelerates caused by increased bone breakdown and there is an increased risk of cardio-vascular disease.
The solution is also simple, replace the hormones.
Up to date hormone replacement therapy is safe and extremely effective.
Symptoms resolve and women can get on with their lives.
The best option for therapy is with bio-identical hormones given as a patch or gel. These are widely available and not just from specialist clinics.
There may still be a small link with breast cancer but this has previously been overstated. It is outweighed by the long term benefits on the cardiovascular system and osteoporosis.
Not all women need HRT but it remains the case that in the modern NHS many menopausal women are being denied this extremely effective treatment.