The menopause can be a time of anxiety and distress as you experience symptoms that can be difficult to manage, including hot flushes, anxiety and sleep disturbances.
Theramex recognises the significance of this time of change in your life. We continuously work with you, our partners and medical professionals to develop treatments to support you through the menopause.
What is the menopause?
Menopause literally means stopping periods. ‘Meno’ refers to menstruation and ‘pause’ means to stop. The medical definition of menopause is when one year has passed since your last period.
During the menopause, your periods will decline and then stop. It typically starts between the ages of 45-55 and the transition can last for several years.
During your reproductive years, your brain and ovaries work together to create the hormones that stimulate your ovaries to release an egg (called ovulation) and prepare your uterus for pregnancy every month. The main hormones involved in the process are estrogen and progesterone.
If you don’t become pregnant, you have a period, and the cycle starts again the following month.
As you age, your ovaries run out of eggs, your body gradually stops producing hormones, and you enter the menopause.
Fluctuating and declining hormone levels can cause a range of symptoms that we associate with the menopause.
Read more about the signs and symptoms of the menopause
If you experience menopausal symptoms before the age of 40, you may be in early menopause, also known as premature ovarian insufficiency.
If you’ve had medical treatment that damages the ovaries, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy, or have had your ovaries surgically removed, you will enter a medically induced menopause. Sometimes this can make symptoms more severe than with natural menopause.
The menopause process consists of perimenopause and postmenopause
- Perimenopause: the levels of hormones in the body start to fluctuate and decline. Periods become irregular and eventually stop altogether.
- Postmenopause: the rest of a woman’s life after a year or more has passed since her last period.
A change in the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone causes the slowing and eventual end of your menstrual cycles. This decrease in hormones happens over time and causes physical and emotional symptoms that arise gradually as your body changes.
This period of transition is known as perimenopause.
Once a year or more has passed since your last menstrual period, you have reached menopause and have entered postmenopause.
The lack of estrogen in your body through the menopausal years can cause physical and psychological changes and have long term impacts on health. You may be at increased risk of developing some conditions, including osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and dementia.
Lifestyle factors, such as a balanced diet and plenty of exercise, can help to reduce the health impacts and improve quality of life as you age.
It can help to find a doctor with a special interest in supporting women through the menopause so that you can receive guidance and advice on symptom management and treatments options, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Read more about talking to your doctor about the menopause
How is the menopause diagnosed?
If you are a healthy woman over the age of 45, your doctor will diagnose perimenopause or the menopause based on factors such as:
- irregular periods or the complete absence of periods for 12 months
- symptoms such as hot flushes (or hot flashes), insomnia, vaginal dryness, and mood changes
- if you have had your ovaries removed or received treatment that may have damaged them
- the existing use of hormonal treatments that may interfere with the menstrual cycle
Although blood tests were often used to help diagnose the menopause in the past, current evidence suggests that they can be unreliable, so they are no longer routinely offered.
Your doctor will decide whether you need to undergo tests to rule out other conditions based on your medical history.