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Menopause: ‘It is best to see your doctor’ if symptoms impact your quality of life

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Mr Narendra Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology, says: “It is best to see your doctor if your symptoms are affecting your quality of life. If there is any unusual bleeding or discharge, it is important to seek urgent medical attention to rule out any other pathology.” The NHS says the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51.

Nonetheless, the health body says: “The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.

“Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly.”

The NHS says around one in 100 women experience menopause before 40 years of age.

It explains: “Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities.”

Mr Pisal says: “Not all women will get symptoms of menopause but the commonest symptoms are hot flushes and night sweats.

“Other symptoms include poor quality of sleep, inability to concentrate, mood swings, low energy and reduced sex drive. Vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex and urinary frequency are also common.”

Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click, says there are several key signs and should you see a GP:

  • Abnormally heavy periods
  • If you are under 40 and haven’t had a period for 12 months
  • Experiencing debilitating symptoms that are affecting your daily life
  • Experiencing any unusual symptoms that are not typical of perimenopause

The NHS says menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around four years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.

It says: “It’s worth talking to a GP if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you’re experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.”

The health body says the main treatment for menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), although other treatments are also available for some of the symptoms.

“HRT replaces the hormones that are missing. Most symptoms are caused by low oestrogen levels, so this is the most important hormone to replace. If you have a womb you also need a progestogen to protect the lining of the womb,” the health body explains.

The NHS says: “If HRT isn’t suitable for you, or you would prefer not to have it, your GP may recommend other medicines that can help, such as clonidine (a high blood pressure medicine) or certain antidepressants.

“These medicines can cause unpleasant side effects, so it’s important to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before starting treatment.”

The Mayo Clinic says: “Keep up with regular visits with your doctor for preventive health care and any medical concerns. Continue getting these appointments during and after menopause.

Preventive health care as you age may include recommended health screening tests, such as colonoscopy, mammography and triglyceride screening. Your doctor might recommend other tests and exams, too, including thyroid testing if suggested by your history, and breast and pelvic exams.”

The organisation says you should always seek medical advice if you have bleeding from your vagina after menopause.

It also says after menopause, your risk of certain medical conditions increases.

For example, when your oestrogen levels decline, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases.

It adds: “Many women gain weight during the menopausal transition and after menopause because metabolism slows. You may need to eat less and exercise more, just to maintain your current weight.”

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