If your change of life is taking away your quality
of life, it's time to talk about solutions.
Menopause is an inevitable natural phenomenon in all women’s lives. It is not a disease and therefore doesn’t have to be 'treated'.
However, many women struggle with symptoms and find their quality of life is improved with advice and some interventional assistance.
Dr Julia Menzies talks about Menopause
Menopause means the end of menstruation (periods).
The 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. But this kind of 'martyrdom' is no longer necessary, when there are a number of simple options available (and not all hormonal).
Our mothers, and their mothers generally suffered silently through this inevitable 'change of life', but we don't have to any more!
What causes Menopausal symptoms?
The best (and right) option for you depends on your past medical history and your own ideas, concerns and expectations.
When women have completed their reproductive years, the production of eggs from the ovary is no longer required.
The natural, gradual reduction in hormone levels, as the ovaries become inactive, 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.
Can I get pregnant during menopause?
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. This is due to the random production of eggs, from the ovary as they become inactive.
A 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!
Time to check your cardiovascular and bone health...
At this time of menopause, 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.
MonaLisa Touch treatment
MonaLisa Touch is an innovative, safe and effective new treatment for vaginal symptoms such as dryness, irritation and recurrent urinary infections.
It uses a fractionated CO2 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 a 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, and some need less.
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.
Dr Emma Boulton, CEO at Clinic 66 answers many of the questions you might have about the vaginal symptoms of menopause, and explains how the MonaLisa Touch treatment works.
Menopause Hormone Treatment
Other treatment options for menopausal symptoms include menopausal hormone treatments (MHT) which consist of tablets, patches or creams which are absorbed systemically into the body.
These are usually a combination of oestrogen, progesterone or other hormone-like medications (such as tibolone).
For extra safety, some women need or choose just to use topical hormone treatments e.g. vaginal oestrogen cream or pessaries.
Mona Lisa Touch treatment and topical vaginal hormones can be used together or separately to help keep the vaginal tissues moist and robust.
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”. However, testosterone treatment is effective and used by thousands of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. We can assess the likelihood that testosterone will be helpful and advise and monitor you while you are taking it.
At Clinic 66 we do not support the use of compounded hormones for menopausal women, based on the advice given by the Australasian Menopause Society due to the lack of evidence for safety and efficacy for compounded treatments.
Other Non-Hormonal Treatment Options for Menopause
Whilst there is little scientific evidence to recommend natural remedies, some women find them helpful. These include black cohosh, agnus castus, dong quai, or other herbal combinations For women who are experiencing hot flushes and mood problems, such as depression, they may be prescribed SSRI medication with good effect.
The particular management package which is right for you, will not be the same for all women. We need to see you in person to find out what is important to you, what is safe for you, and what is likely to give you benefit.
Come and see us and start the conversation…