What is menopause?
Menopause is the term used to refer to the final menstrual period, at this stage the patient may experience a change in the pattern of their period cycle. The ovulation process along with the production of estrogen and progesterone will no longer occur.
When do you start experiencing menopause?
Menopause will naturally occur in females aged between 45-55 years; the average onset age is 50 years; however, menopause may occur earlier for female who have their ovaries surgical removed.
How long does menopause last?
There are 3 stages of menopause:
1. Peri menopause
3. Post menopause
Peri menopause begins about 4 years prior to the “menopause” phase, at this phase patients may begin to experience some symptoms such as irregular period cycles, change in menstrual flow.
Menopause is the phase in which the patient will not experience a menstrual cycle for a period of 12 months. At this stage the symptoms will be more consistent and intense.
Post menopause is the phase after which menopause has occurred, the patient at this stage may experience no menstrual cycle but light spotting.
Why does menopause occur?
Menopause occurs as a natural part of ageing; the ovarian follicles will become less active; therefore, the ovulation cycle no longer occurs, and regular menstruation does not take place. The patient’s body will begin to produce less of the following reproductive hormones:
- Follicle-Stimulating Hormone
- Luteinizing Hormone
Other factors that may trigger menopause to occur earlier are:
- Surgical removal of both ovaries
- Ovarian ablation, or the shutdown of ovary function
- Pelvic Radiation
- Pelvic injuries resulting in severely damage or destroy the ovaries
Signs and symptoms of menopause:
When experiencing menopause, patients may experience some of the following:
- Changes to Menstrual Periods (Irregular Periods, Changes in Flow)
- Hot Flushes
- Night Sweats
- Bodily Aches and Pain
- Sore Breast
- Dry Skin
- Increase Urinary Frequency
- Sleeping Difficulties
- Unwanted Hair Growth
- Thinning of Scalp
- Mood Changes
- Forgetfulness or Trouble Concentrating
How should the symptoms be managed?
To assist with making the menopause phase easier patients can implement the following self-management strategies:
- Exercising regularly
- Cease smoking
- Carrying a fan
- Dressing in layers
- Drinking cooler temperature water
- Using a facial water spray
- Avoid eating spicy foods
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
How is menopause diagnosed?
A doctor may diagnose menopause based on a few different factors:
- Signs and symptoms displayed by the patient; they may use a score sheet to assist them with this
- Hormonal tests may be requested, this usually occurs when there is a health concern rather than natural ageing
Score: None = 0; Mild = 1; Moderate = 2; Severe = 3