OsteoBlog - Menopause
Shouldn't it be called menostop or menocease? After all, this stage in life marks the end of the reproductive abilities of a woman and the cessation of menstruation.
All jokes aside, the menopause is a serious business which can dictate the lives of many women for many years.
Some women pass through this stage of life barely noticing whilst others are dragged down, chewed up and spat out by it.
It really is luck of the draw as to how you may be affected. Read on to find out more about this stage of female life......
There is plenty of information out there regarding the average age of when a girl should start her period/menses and when they eventually finish, but as we know, this can have a wide range and the average age in the UK is 51 years.
Females begin their menstrual life at about the age of 12-14 when they start to ovulate and thus become fertile. The womb/uterus prepares itself for pregnancy each month by thickening its lining under the control of hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which are produced in the pituitary gland within the brain and the ovaries. These hormones also stimulate the release of an egg from the ovaries, ready to be fertilised and implanted into the womb lining.
When the egg isn't fertilised, it is discarded along with the blood lining once a month (roughly!)
When you approach late 40's or early 50's, you may experience symptoms such as a change in your periods, emotional mood swings and body temperature rises. This is known as peri-menopause and it is a signal that your hormones are changing and that you are approaching the end of your menstrual life. This stage can actually go on for years, rendering you a bit helpless as to when your next period may be, how you may react emotionally to certain situations and whether to take a jumper out with you or not!
You may start to have symptoms in your late 30's early 40's or it may not happen until mid 50's. There are certain schools of thought that we may follow our mothers footsteps when it comes to this subject and so it may be worth finding out what your mother went through.
Other symptoms of peri-menopause include:
Recurrent urinary tract infections
Pain during intercourse
The hormonal changes involve a drop in oestrogen and progesterone levels. Since these are the drivers for ovulation, a consistent drop signals the periods to stop. This drop in oestrogen and progesterone causes a rise in FSH and LH and it is these markers which are used in blood tests to assess a woman's menopausal status.
Of course there are certain circumstances when an early menopause may be medically induced such as having a total hysterectomy or ovectomy, some cancer treatments and anything that effects the ovary's hormonal ability. Or it may just be idiopathic (no known cause).
If the menopause happens before the age of 45 then this is known as premature menopause.
One of the main worries of women post menopause is the effect on bone health. Oestrogen has a protective effect on bone density and so its loss can leave us vulnerable to osteoporosis.
Many women take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to alleviate symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, mood disturbance and bone loss but it carries risks such as breast cancer, DVT and stroke and is therefore only really advised if the symptoms are severe and interfere with activities of daily living.
Some self-help remedies include: getting enough sunlight and vitamin D, engaging in weight training to improve bone density and muscle mass, stop smoking, relaxation therapies or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and weight loss.
Generally speaking, the healthier you are the more robust your body will be at coping with these symptoms.
Always see your GP or practice nurse if you are having changes to your cycle or any of the above symptoms as they can overlap with other conditions. It is unwise to assume just because you are a woman of a certain age that everything is related to the menopause. Get checked out regardless.
Further resources: The British Menopause Society (www.thebms.org.uk)
Thanks for reading.
For osteopathy in High Wycombe and beyond, call Lucy from OsteoFusion on 07833 321604 or visit www.osteofusion.co.uk to book an appointment.