The Menopause: We Need to Talk About It
We need to talk about the menopause: one of the biggest taboos that affects every woman with ovaries at some point in her life. For many, it will occur between the age of 45-55, yet for others it can be as young as 30. Here's what to expect, and where you can find help and support.
Why don't we talk about the menopause?
It's time to break the silence around menopause. This natural process can be accompanied by a range of physical and emotional symptoms, yet it remains a taboo subject, perhaps because it involves processes that many are still uncomfortable to talk about, such as hormones, psychological symptoms and periods. It's time to move on: the easier we find it to talk about, the easier it will be to deal with.
What happens during the menopause?
During the menopause, a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs and her body produces less of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. A woman is considered to be going through the menopause when she has not had a period for twelve months.
Signs and symptoms
There are a lot of signs and symptoms that come along with the menopause, and they can vary from person to person. The most common symptom is hot flushes, which can cause night sweats, anxiety, and sleep problems. Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, mood swings, weight gain, and decreased sex drive. Recognising these symptoms is the first step in coping with the menopause.
Tips for coping with hot flushes
Although uncomfortable, there are ways to deal with hot flushes, such as wearing layers that you can easily remove; drinking plenty of fluids during the day, especially water, to stay hydrated and help your body regulate its temperature; and practising relaxation techniques.
What are my treatment options?
If you're experiencing menopausal symptoms, there are a few different treatment options available to you. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most common option, and can be very effective in managing symptoms. However, it's not right for everyone, and some people find they can keep symptoms at bay through lifestyle measures, such as exercise, yoga, and eating a balanced diet.
Where to get support if I am struggling
There are a number of ways you can get support if you're struggling with the menopause. You can talk to your GP, who will be able to give you advice and support. There are also menopause charities and organisations who can offer help and advice. You can also find support from other women who are going through the menopause by joining online forums and support groups. Finally, there are a number of books and websites which offer information and advice on coping with the menopause.