What is menopause?

Menopause is the ceasing of a woman's menstrual period. It usually begins in a woman's late 40s or early 50s, where decreased amounts of hormones, oestrogen, and progesterone, indicate the end of ovulation and oestrogen production. Any of the changes you go through just before or after your period stops, signalling the end of your reproductive years, are part of menopause.

Other than changes in menstruation patterns, the following signs mark the beginning of menopause (or perimenopause):

  • less frequent menstruation
  • heavier or lighter periods than you usually experience
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Due to the decreasing levels of oestrogen, uncomfortable symptoms are experienced during menopause, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Hot flashes
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Discomfort during intercourse or reduced sex drive
  • Headaches
  • Tender breasts
  • Shrinking of breasts
  • Hair thinning or problems with hair growth
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety related to these changes
  • Increased hair growth in other areas of the body such as the face, neck, chest, and upper back.

What are the treatment options?

Treatments include medications to counteract specific symptoms such as vaginal dryness, hair thinning, breast tenderness and insomnia. Alternatively, hormone replacement therapy may replace the hormones that are no longer produced naturally by the body.

Hormone replacement therapy can replace the female hormones that the body is no longer producing, treating the symptoms of menopause. Besides menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy is an effective treatment for many women who no longer produce oestrogen and progesterone and thus are experiencing similar symptoms due to the lack of female hormones.

Although menopause is a natural process that all women face, the symptoms may vary in severity for each woman. Therefore, if you feel the symptoms affect your quality of life or confidence, Dr Tini may suggest hormone replacement therapy to treat the symptoms.

1Will a hysterectomy cause menopause?

Menopause does not occur immediately after you have a hysterectomy if your ovaries have been preserved. After this procedure, you no longer have periods and are unable to become pregnant because your uterus has been removed. Your ovaries, on the other hand, may still produce hormones. Thus, you may not show any other signs of menopause. Later in life, you may experience natural menopause a year or two earlier than usual. When both ovaries are removed simultaneously as the hysterectomy, a woman enters menopause almost immediately.

2How can I prevent hot flashes?

Avoid foods that trigger you, such as spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and stress. Keep cooling systems such as fans and air-conditioning on when you feel heated.

3Does menopause increase the risk of heart disease?

Yes. Women are more likely to suffer cardiovascular disorders after menopause, such as heart attacks and strokes.