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Video

Dr Pixie:
The menopause is something that every woman goes through, yet many don’t discuss this natural change that marks the permanent end of their menstrual cycle.

A woman is born with between one and two million eggs in her ovaries and throughout her reproductive years, these eggs are regularly released into the fallopian tubes for fertilization by a man’s sperm. If unfertilized, the woman’s body will expel them as part of her period.

As her supply of eggs is run down, her ovaries stop making oestrogen and progesterone, which are the hormones that have regulated the menstrual cycle throughout her life. This results in the end of her monthly periods.

Menopausal signs and symptoms will often begin in a woman’s forties, even though she still may be menstruating. This transition phase is called the peri-menopause, which literally means ‘around the menopause’. It usually lasts between two and six years. It’s important to remember that, although fertility is decreasing, you can still get pregnant during this time.

The symptoms of the menopause include the menstrual pattern getting highly irregular, a period may last fewer or more days and blood flow may become heavier or lighter than usual.

Many women will start experiencing the classic menopausal symptom of the hot flush, which is a sensation of heat or feverishness, mostly in the face, neck and upper chest. It is usually accompanied by reddened skin, and is often followed by heavy sweating and cold shivering, which frequently occur at night.

There may be a loss of libido and a change in feelings toward sex, which can become uncomfortable. A decrease in oestrogen levels causes the tissues of the vulva and the lining of the vagina to become thin, dry and less elastic.

Problems holding urine can also occur, which, combined with the other symptoms, contribute to sleeping problems, leading to issues with short-term memory, irritability and the inability to concentrate.

Technically, a woman doesn’t actually hit the menopause until it’s been one year since her last period. The years that follow are called the post-menopause. Typically, women tend to feel more like themselves again and are more emotionally stable and mentally strong. Some of the symptoms, however, may linger.

Husband:
She gets a bit grumpy and weepy and…

Wife:
Yes, I get…do get terrible mood swings.

Woman 1:
Sweating.

Woman 2:
Mood swings.

Woman 1:
Forgetfulness.

Woman 2:
Uh, vaginal dryness.

Woman 1:
...Forgetfulness.

Dr Pixie:
Even though the menopause is not an illness, you shouldn’t hesitate to get treatment if you’re experiencing severe symptoms. There are many possible treatment options, and the most common one is hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. This treatment involves replacing the lost oestrogen and is most effective in relieving the hot flushes and the vaginal and urinary symptoms. Tibolone is a synthetic steroid and like HRT, is effective in reducing hot flushes, but it is also particularly helpful for those with a reduced libido.

In addition to these medical treatments, there are a number of lifestyle and home treatments that can be beneficial. For instance, to deal with hot flushes, try to pinpoint and then avoid what triggers them. Alcohol, hot drinks and spicy foods can all be responsible, as can a heightened emotional state. Clearly, these things can be hard to avoid, but, if you are aware of the triggers, you will be able to prevent the symptoms before they occur. For issues like vaginal discomfort, many women use over-the-counter water-based lubricants. It is also important to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

Menopause is a natural state in a woman’s life and nothing to be embarrassed about or frightened about, but there are some common concerns and myths surrounding this time of transition.

A loss of femininity and sexuality are common concerns, but the menopause doesn’t have to signal this. In fact, you may be one of many women who find it liberating to stop worrying about pregnancy and periods. Weight gain is another major concern. Middle age spread is often linked to the hormonal changes at this time of life, but as yet there is no conclusive proof. Those extra inches could just be part of getting older and being less active.

Does the menopause signal the end is near? Absolutely not. The truth is that you’ve still got as much as half your life to go and many women who’ve completed the menopause look back on it as a passageway to a new positive phase of life. Most report that they now feel more confident, empowered, and energized than ever before.

Remember that if you have any concerns about the menopause or its symptoms, talk to your GP as there are plenty of options available, and there is no need to suffer in silence.

Read the video transcript

Dr Pixie presents an exclusive guide to the menopause. In the guide she discusses why it occurs, what treatment options are available if the symptoms are severe, as well as examining some of the common myths surrounding this natural stage of a woman’s life.

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I have been able to occasionally stabe pff a hot flash by IMMEDIATELY drinking ice water when i feel it coming on. This cools down the core, and core temp is the issue. Also avoid hot meals for dinner as the heat introduced to your core can trigger a flash. Eat a salad instead...abd youll lose weight as a bonus. Once i lost extra weight the hot flashes decreased by about 80%





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hi Iam 61yers Ihave had hot flushes bad ones I have been on H.R.T 3 times each time Ihad to have a break from it .it help a bit not with the flushes but it made me feel better more energy I am told now I can not go on HRT any more . my flushes are still bad I have to take a cloth out with me to dry off .this has been going on for 15years now will it ever end





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i had early menopause and have been taking hrt for many years i am 60 in june and my doctor wants me to come off i am worried about withdrawals and "shrivelling up"(maybe over imaginative) any natural suppliment i can take





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I started menopause at 39. I've been on hrt 5 yrs. doctor advised to come off as risks increase after 5 yrs but still struggle with hot flashes. Been taking evorel sequi and was wondering what is the lowest dose can take so can continue with hrt.





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My girlfriend (age 58) is in menopause and now finds that sexual intercourse is "difficult and uncomfortable" and could we "not do that anymore?" Now what? I still have a strong libido and I feel she has put me in a difficult position. Is there anything she can do to make sex easier?





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hi i started going threw the menopause at 39 i am now 47, i have gained alot of weight, about 3 stone,i am 5ft 4 and was about 9 stone before i have always been in a size 10 or 12, even after having my children, i have tried diets and exercise and cant seem to shift it, its all on my bum and belly, top half is fine as i am pear shaped, is there any one how can give me any tips on how to lose this weight, i am active as well





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I had a total hysterectomy at the age of 29 I am now 54 my gp implanted 17 100mg implants in a 2 year span I was overdosed and had to go cold turkey from this overdose and have suffered from then up to now with hot flushes night sweats no sex drive mood swings. Will I ever stop getting these symptoms





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Hi I am 46 and I have been suffering with the menopause and for about six years now. I have noticed that my depression has got worse, since it started, also people have noticed that my personalty has changed,my sex drive has completely gone,mood swings are really bad, My periods are non existent, I don't know if I could be pregnant or not from one month to the next. I have suffered with anaemia all my life and have always felt cold, but now I am boiling hot all the time and suffer with hot flushes day and night, which is one of the things i can't cope with amongst other things going wrong with my body right now. I can't take the tablets as the side effects are to bad, and they make my depression worse. I don't know what to do and my doctor isn't helping he just keeps throwing tablets at me, that I'm not going to take.





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I had the same problem. I took hormone therapy and immediately gained 30#. I decided to tuff it out and now at 71 I am finally getting relief. MY doctor said she knew a women who suffered menopause symptoms until she was 84. She too did not have HRP. I did have uterus removed without removing overies to help with some of the symptoms, but that only lasted a few years. Overies also produce hormones. All I can say is that I did try the weekly patch that did finally help, but with weight gain a major problem for other things, I had to quit that. Good luck. Talk to another doctor that specializes in this. There may be better/newer meds on the market these days.

Have you had thyroid tests?





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Hi i am 41 and have had the marena coil for 4 years and had 3/4 days of spotting every month. I have missed my spotting completley this month, have no appetight ,feel sick every evening ,have sore boobs and a complete loss of labido along with being rally moody. Is this a sign i could be premenapausal, or could my coil be wearing off.Help!





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Could you be pregnant? Missed bleeding, sore boobs, nausea, mood swings? Only times I had these symptoms all at once I was pregnant.


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