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Menopause: Symptoms, treatments and advice

Menopause: Symptoms, treatments and advice

Published at 2:47pm 21st November 2019. (Updated at 3:53pm 26th November 2019)

The BMI Duchy Hospital Promoted by
The BMI Duchy Hospital

The menopause is a natural process that all women will go through, but with awareness of the causes and the symptoms generally quite low - is it time to talk about it more openly?

  • Dr Clare Spencer has spoken to Stray FM about the menopause and why it's important to raise awareness about symptoms and changes in the body.
  • The average age for women to go through menopause is 51 in the UK, but there are also a small number of women that will go through it before they are 40.
  • The BMI Duchy Hospital in Harrogate are also holding an open event where people can speak to Dr Clare Spencer about health concerns.

The menopause is something that all women will go through, usually between the ages of 45 and 55, yet alarmingly, awareness of the process is generally quite low.

The menopause occurs when changes in the body's hormones mean it no longer produces eggs each month, but while it is a natural process can bring with it a number of symptoms that in some cases can be quite severe.

Dr Clare Spencer and BMI Duchy Hospital
Dr Clare Spencer has been speaking to Stray FM at The BMI Duchy Hospital in Harrogate to try and raise awareness of the symptoms and changes in the body during the menopause.

What is the menopause?

The word 'menopause' refers to the 'final period', meaning the body is ready to stop producing eggs and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. 

Periods tend to become less frequent in the few months or years before they eventually stop (although they can sometimes stop suddenly) and is a natural part of the ageing process.

"As women get older and periods become irregular, oestrogen levels can be up and down before they eventually drop - it's the drop and fluctuating levels of oestrogen that is responsible for a lot of symptoms that women experience when going through menopause."

Dr Clare Spencer - GP partner at the Meanwood Group Practice, Leeds

Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45-55 as oestrogen levels decline, with the average age in the UK being 51. However, around 1 in 100 women can experience it before the age of 40 - which is known as premature menopause.

Symptoms

Most women will experience menopausal symptoms and they are often mild, however in some cases they can be quite severe and have a significant impact on everyday activities.

Common symptoms include:

  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • difficulty sleeping
  • low mood or anxiety
  • problems with memory and concentration
Doctor's equipment
If you're experiencing severe symptoms, Dr Clare Spencer recommends you contact your GP for help in relieving them.

How is it diagnosed?

If day-to-day symptoms of the menopause are causing issues, you should see your GP.

GP's will look at symptoms and period patterns that could signify lower levels of oestrogen before diagnosing menopause, and in younger women may do blood tests to confirm diagnosis and look for any correctable causes.

Treatments/managing symptoms

Lifestyle changes

Some of the easiest and most beneficial ways of dealing with symptoms of the menopause are changes that can be made to your lifestyle.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly are very important, as well as maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong. Cutting down on alcohol and smoking will also provide health benefits.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

One treatment available that can help relieve some symptoms of menopause is Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - a treatment that replaces hormones that are at a lower level as you approach the menopause.

The main benefit of this treatment is that it can relieve the more common symptoms (hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings etc.) yet it can also prevent the weakening of bones (osteoporosis) which is common during the menopause.

NOTE: Although GP's can manage most menopausal issues, a menopause clinic could be more useful if you're struggling to control symptoms or if there are medical conditions that make management of the menopause more complicated.

Healthy food
Small lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet and cutting down on alcohol can help relieve menopause symptoms

Free information evening at The BMI Duchy Hospital

The BMI Duchy Hospital will also be holding a free information evening with Dr Clare Spencer on Thursday 30th January 2020 - a free talk focusing on how to recognise and manage symptoms of the menopause.

Dr Clare Spencer will be covering the types of problems women experience and potential management choices and options and although the evening does not replace a full consultation, it is a great way to find out more about the potential options.

The free healthcare events at The BMI Duchy Hospital are very popular, so book here to avoid disappointment!

Patients can also self-refer to see Dr Clare Spencer at The BMI Duchy Hospital, or for further information/to book an appointment with Dr Clare Spencer please call 01423 567136 or 0800 068 1415.

Ben Groom from Stray Lifestyle went along to The BMI Duchy Hospital in Harrogate to find out more from Dr Clare Spencer:

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