Menopause is an inevitable natural phenomenon in all women's lives. Menopause means the end of menstruation (periods). Average age of menopause is 52, but it can happen earlier or later. Menopause actually means "last period" and the term perimenopause refers to the time period before and after menstruation stops. Perimenopause can last for years, and symptoms commonly occur between 45-55 yrs. Symptoms can be life changing, both physically and emotionally. Historically, women have suffered in silence, thinking that the inconveniences of maturity were unchangeable.
However, in 2017, women do not need to suffer in silence!
Women can and will be helped by simple interventions, such as laser vaginal treatments and Menopausal Hormone Treatment.
The natural, gradual reduction in hormone levels which occurs around menopause can produce symptoms, such as hot flushes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, reduced libido, and mood changes. Many women accept these changes and don't seek assistance, as they may be unaware that there are simple and safe interventions which can be life changing. Depending on your medical history, lifestyle and health beliefs, there will definitely be something which can help alleviate these symptoms. Individual treatments plans can be decided using a shared decision making approach, after discussion, between you and one of our doctors. The best (and right) option for you depends on your past medical history and your own ideas, concerns and expectations.
Menopause occurs because the ovaries no longer produce eggs or hormones, as at that time in a woman's life, she no longer wants or needs to get pregnant! Many women think they cannot fall pregnant in the perimenopause, but they can. Late unplanned pregnancy can be a shock and distressing to deal with, so there is a special approach for women who are in their later reproductive years, who still need contraception. If you are still menstruating, you will need to still consider contraception. In the woman who is menstruating less or irregularly, she will still be ovulating and has the potential of falling pregnant, but the cycle is less predictable and cannot be relied upon for natural family planning, for instance, a woman may ovulate during her period. Natural fertility is reduced with increasing age, especially after the age of 45, but the chances of conception are not zero!
At this time of life, women need to have a comprehensive risk assessment for their health. Modifiable risk factors (e.g. weight, lifestyle) and non-modifiable risk factors (e.g. genetics) are very important in the mature woman, as it is at this age, that risk factors start to show. Now is the time to take stock and understand how to reduce risk for a number of common conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. Any of our doctors will happily talk with you, helping you choose the best approach to menopause, as well as bone health (prevention of osteoporosis), cardiovascular health and your sexual function (desire and capability!). Cervical cancer screening is recommended up to the age of 70 yrs. Breast and bowel cancer screening is recommended for women over 50 years or before if they have a significant family history.
Mood changes can occur at time of menopause and these may relate to hormonal adjustment, or they may relate to other life events such as teenage children, elderly parents, work dilemmas or relationship difficulties. Let us help you work out the best way for you with dealing with your depression or anxiety. Exercise, talking therapies (including computerised CBT) and medication are all effective.
If you have poor pelvic floor tone or urinary incontinence (urge or stress or mixed) we can help improve your quality of life with individualised management.
MonaLisa Touch is an innovative, safe and effective new treatment for vaginal symptoms such as dryness, irritation and recurrent urinary infections. It uses a laser technology to produce changes in the vagina and vulval area which are helpful to the perimenopausal and post-menopausal woman. Clinic 66 offers this treatment as part of range of interventions for menopause. Generally, a woman has 3 treatments over the course of 6 months, initially, and then once per year thereafter. Some women need more frequent treatments. Research evidence is looking very promising regarding the benefits of MonaLisa Touch treatments although currently there is no Medicare or Private Health Fund rebate available for this treatment.
Other treatment options for menopausal symptoms include menopausal hormone treatments (MHT) topical hormone treatments e.g. vaginal pessaries. Whilst there is little substantial scientific evidence to recommend natural remedies, some women find them helpful. For women who are experiencing hot flushes and mood problems, such as depression, they may be prescribed SSRI medication.
Testosterone treatment in the form of creams and gels is becoming increasingly popular for the woman who wants to improve libido, although there are no PBS concessions for use of testosterone in women and prescribing is seen as “offline”. Testosterone treatment, is however, effective and used by thousands of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.
We are all different and therefore treatment options need to be tailored to the individual.
Come and see us and start the conversation…