Category: Assess your own symptoms

MY GP GAVE ME ANTIDEPRESSANTS

At least one a week if not more often I encounter a patient who will tell me this story:
“I have not been feeling myself lately. I snap at the kids for no reason and then get really upset over it. I also get very anxious about things that did not bother me before and this is really affecting my work. I saw my doctor who checked my bloods test. It came back normal and therefore I was told it cannot be menopause and I should consider taking and antidepressant or antianxiety medication”
My dear patient if you are in the right age group you simply are perimenopausal.
I often tell my patients the story of similar things happening to me and recall of when I would not sleep at night over my first son starting secondary school and losing half of his uniform routinely at school. I laugh about it now.
Antidepressant can be a solution if you do not want to consider hormonal treatment. I would recommend you have an informed discussion with a menopause specialist as chances are that you will change your mind and that a low hormonal dose will make your life much easier.

WHAT ARE MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS?

When you start reading menopause website you will find an endless list of symptoms. From your joints to your hair every possible human symptom will be listed. This can be very confusing and in clinical practice I have shortened the list to four main symptoms.
These are the the symptoms that do affect your everyday quality of life and that is why I simplified the list.
If you score at least three of them and are in the
right age group (over 45) then your diagnosis is made. As I explained before don’t worry about your hormonal blood tests results as they will be often be normal.
The symptoms are:
-hot flashes and night sweats
-trouble in sleeping (very often caused by the night sweats but not only)
-mood changes including anxiety and irritability
-tiredness (again very often caused by not sleeping well)
You can decide to put up with all of this baring in mind it could continue for 10 years or to get some help. The choice is yours.

AM I GOING INSANE?

Hot flashes and night sweats? You all know about those. What I would like in these blogs is to inform on the things that you might not know about menopause.
Many women experience other symptoms that they find quite difficult to identify.

For example, they might find themselves much more irritable or moody. Some women suddenly find hard to cope with tasks or family life problems that were not an issue before. The problem is that these changes very often happen before the classical symptoms and therefore are very often misdiagnosed for something else like normal depression.

On top of that many women and doctors at times might rely on a blood test to see if what they are experiencing is due to menopause or not. The blood test comes back invariably normal because as I explained to you before the blood level of FSh will change usually after your periods have stopped.

The conclusion usually is that you get labelled with depression or anxiety disorders and you get prescribed with medication. The correct answer is that you are not going crazy and that menopausal changes can be responsible for the way you feel. Many other women have had the same and unfortunately, women in Ireland are not very keen in sharing this type of experience.

So talk to your friends about it and maybe consider menopause as a diagnosis and menopause treatment as a solution.

VAGINA CHANGES 

There are some menopause classical consequences that women are not always aware of.

The main one would be changes in your vagina and bladder. The vaginal mucosa is a primary target organ for oestrogens. Once the oestrogens are not there anymore the mucosa will thin and change. This physiological change will manifest with discomfort in having sex and often symptoms that women label as recurrent thrush.

This is a symptom that will happen to all women at some stage, unlike hot flashes and night sweats that can vary form woman to woman. You need to decide if this is an important issue or not for you when you are looking at treatment options.This symptom will usually manifest itself in your late 50’s and by then is too late for women who have decided not take hrt to change their mind. There are effective treatments available which your doctor will be able to discuss with you and I will give you more information on this in the treatment section of the website.

The main thing for now is that you understand that this change WILL HAPPEN and if your sex life is important for you, you need to make a plan.

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