Category: Understanding the Menopause

DO I NEED TO SEE A SPECIALIST?

Not all medical professional have experience in looking after women who are experiencing menopause. Treatment can be quite difficult as it needs to be tailored to your needs. It is also important to address myths and anxiety about treatment so that you do not end up making the wrong choice.
Some general practitioners are very sympathetic and helpful in this situation. There a couple  of things that might help you decide if you need to see a menopause specialist.
1- Did your doctor listen to your symptoms or just suggested a blood test to make a diagnosis?
2-Did you get help in formulating a general plan to take care of your health that goes beyond just helping you with your symptoms. This is very important as menopause will affect the rest of your life and your ageing process.
Consider these two points and you will be very clear in knowing if you need further help!

GET YOUR DEFINITIONS RIGHT

One of the most common myths around menopause is that it will last a short period of time and then it will be over.
Most women talk about being through and done with it. Let’s clear this out:
-PERIMENOPAUSE  is the leading time to the end of your ovarian function. It can last from 2 to 15 years. This is the time when most women experience transition symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes.
-MENOPAUSE  is the period of your life from when your ovarian functions declines till the end of your life.
The rest of your life after menopause will hopefully be a long wonderful time but you are going to live it without the help of oestrogens. This is a major change that affects different part of your body.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM IN MENOPAUSE?

This is one of the most common questions i get ask by patient. Diagnosing menopause can be tricky because it is a gradual process. Contrary to common belief it is not possible to do a blood test to tell you if you are starting menopause or not. Changes in blood levels will only be evident after menopause has happened and that is not very helpful because the vast majority of women feel unwell before than that and when their blood test is well within normal level. In medical terms we call this a retrospective diagnosis.

You really should not worry about pinpointing the exact time of going through the transition but you should worry instead about how the process is affecting your health and quality of life.

WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?

Menopause happens when your ovaries start working less and then eventually stop working altogether. One of the main functions of the ovaries is to produce hormones in particularly oestrogen. You always will have some levels of circulating oestrogens even when menopause has occurred but it will be less then what you used to have.

This is the clue of the problem as oestrogens have a lot of beneficial effects on your body and not having them anymore causes all the symptoms and problems I will discuss when we talk about symptoms. Changes in periods will normally happen in the time leading up to menopause and they eventually will stop. While this very important menstrual change is a clear menopause sign you really need not to stop at this but look at the bigger picture.

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