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Female Menopause

older female

The Female Menopause occurs when levels of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone fall and the body stops producing eggs. Menstruation ceases permanently and women are no longer able to conceive. The onset is generally between the ages of 45-55 but for some women it can start much earlier or later. If the menopause sets in before the age of 36, there may be medical implications that need to be addressed.

Symptoms include:

  • Hot flushes which can occur, on average 4 or 5 times a day and usually last for a few seconds to some minutes. Some women also experience a ‘crawling’ sensation on the skin

  • Night sweats, which can drench your nightwear and bedding, causing sleep disturbance

  • Irregular, scant or heavy periods

  • Dry or itchy skin due to skin becoming thinner and having less oestrogen to help retain moisture

  • Aches and pains, including joint pain, muscular pain, backaches and headachesI

  • Insomnia, caused by low levels of oestrogen and sometimes aggravated by night sweats, anxiety or depression

  • Bladder problems –an increased susceptibility to infections and stress incontinence

  • Loss of vaginal elasticity, causing problems with sexual intercourse.

This sounds like a distressing list but there is medical treatment available for many of these and there are also self-help treatments and techniques that work well.

Some general self-help techniques include:

  • For hot flushes, try wearing layers of clothing in natural fibre so that they can be put on and off as you need them and avoid too much tea, coffee, alcohol and spicy foods. Drink plenty of water which will also help with dry skin

  • Don’t smoke - it increases the chance of heart disease and osteoporosis

  • Keep to a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise to keep stress to a minimum

  • To help with sleep disturbance avoid exercise late in the day and try going to bed at the same time each night

  • Try to stay positive and remember that it’s a temporary phase in your life

  • Get support from people around you if you need it.

Further information can be found at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/menopause.shtml

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/Pages/Introduction.aspx

If there are any particular subjects that you would like to see covered in these pages, please contact the well-being team at wellbeing@aston.ac.uk.