Find out how menopause may affect your life and what The Canberra Menopause Centre can do for you.
Based at SHFPACT, The Canberra Menopause Centre is a dedicated service for those seeking information, support and medical management of menopause symptoms. Menopause is the stage of life when periods cease. This occurs when the ovaries are no longer producing eggs, and is a natural life event. Menopause has three stages: perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.
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The perimenopause, or menopause transition, is the time from the first onset of symptoms to 12 months after the last menstrual period. The menopause transition can vary in length depending on the individual, but symptoms can occur 1-3 years before the last period.
WHEN DOES MENOPAUSE OCCUR?
Menopause occurs at different ages, but most menstruation usually stops between the ages of 45 and 55. Premature menopause occurs the last menstrual period occurs before the age of 40. This may happen naturally, or it may be brought about by medical treatments affecting the ovaries such as surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
WHAT SOMEONE MAY EXPERIENCE DURING MENOPAUSE TRANSITION
For some the menopause transition has little impact on their lives, however, many do experience symptoms, and some may experience symptoms severe enough to affect their health and well-being, and to disrupt their lives. For a number of people the symptoms of the postmenopausal phase, such as hot flushes, can continue for the first couple of years after menopause, and for a few, hot flushes and night sweats may persist well into the 60’s.
Menopause can mean a new lease of life, free from concerns about periods, premenstrual syndrome, or the risk of pregnancy. However, some may find it a difficult time, and may feel anxious about reaching this stage in their life, or mourn the loss of their fertility and youth. For almost all who go through it menopause is a time of significant change.
During perimenopause periods commonly change. They may end suddenly, but more often become irregular, or heavier and longer before eventually stopping.
Other effects possible include:
HOT FLUSHES OR SWEATS
Hot flushes may be associated with sweating, palpitations, and a sudden ‘wave of heat’, especially around the neck and face, or a ‘crawling’ feeling under the skin. Sweating may be more noticeable at night which can disturb sleep.
The lining of the vagina becomes thinner and less elastic, and there may be less vaginal lubrication. This may cause intercourse to be uncomfortable or less enjoyable.
There can be body changes during perimenopause and after menopause such as dry skin, increased facial hair, joint pain, and loss of breast tissue.
EMOTIONAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGES
These may include symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood swings, tiredness, lower sex drive, and poor concentration or memory.
Emotional symptoms might also be due to life stresses which commonly occur around the same time as menopause such as caring for children, young adult children leaving home, caring for ageing parents, the death of a parent, and changes in employment, health, or relationships.
LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF MENOPAUSE
Before menopause women* are less likely than men* to suffer from heart disease or strokes. The rates of these conditions increase for women after menopause, and by the age of 65, the rates in men and women are equal. Almost 50% of women die from cardiovascular disease.
Osteoporosis is characterised by thinning of the bones, leading to a greater chance of a fracture occurring, particularly in the hip, spine, and wrist. Loss of oestrogen after the menopause is the major cause of osteoporosis. Factors that may increase a someone’s risk of osteoporosis include:
- Early menopause, a thin build, anorexia, excessive exercise.
- Family history of osteoporosis.
- Long-term use of cortisone, anticonvulsants, some antacids, and diuretics.
- Lifestyle factors such as smoking, high intake of alcohol or caffeine, a diet low in calcium, and lack of exercise.
SEXUALITY AFTER MENOPAUSE?
Interest in and feelings about sex sometimes change in midlife. Generally, if sex has been important and enjoyable in a person’s younger years, it will continue to be in their middle and later years. The quality of someone’s relationship will also affect their feelings about sex. Sexuality involves more than just intercourse. It is enhanced when partners feel good about themselves and feel loved and loving.
If physical changes such as vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal walls lead to discomfort during sex, then vaginal lubricants, oestrogen cream or pessaries, HRT, or alternative therapies may be useful.
INFORMATION & SUPPORT
It can be can beneficial for someone undergoing menopause to have an understanding what is happening to their bodies. Discussing menopause with others can also be helpful. Partners and other family members will find it easier to be supportive if they also understand what happens during menopause. The Canberra Menopause Centre run special menopause information and workplace sessions.
DIET & EXERCISE
Regular exercise and a healthy diet are helpful in maintaining or improving overall health and feelings of well-being. A diet that is low in fat, sugar and salt, but high in calcium and fibre may also help prevent osteoporosis and heart disease, and maintain a healthy weight.
Relaxation and exercise helps maintain physical and mental health so it may be useful to learn relaxation techniques, to do things that they enjoy, and try to make time for themselves.
It may be helpful if, within reason, someone can anticipate and minimise situations that may trigger hot flushes. These may include smoking, the types of food eaten and reducing a high intake of caffeine or alcohol. Layering clothing so top ones can easily be removed when necessary is also useful.
Professional help may include assessment, information, counselling, medical treatments and/or alternative therapies. Medical treatments include hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is the most effective treatment for symptoms related to the hormonal changes of menopause. It is also beneficial for bone health and may decrease mortality from cardiovascular disease. The Canberra Menopause Centre can provide information to assist individuals in deciding which therapy is best for them.
THE CANBERRA MENOPAUSE CENTRE
The Canberra Menopause Centre is a dedicated service for those seeking information, support, and medical management of menopause. It is staffed by experienced female doctors who have a special interest in this area.
WHAT A CONSULTATION MAY INCLUDE:
- Information and discussion of how menopause symptoms may affect you: for example hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, mood changes, and sexual difficulties.
- Information regarding beneficial lifestyle choices to improve cardiovascular health, and bone health.
- Assessment and treatment of menopausal symptoms.
- The current understanding of the role of complementary and alternative therapies.
- Information about, and prescription of, hormone replacement therapy, and non- hormonal prescription treatments for menopause symptoms.
- Information about, and prescription of, contraception for peri-menopausal clients.
- Assessment and management of mood symptoms including pharmacological and non-pharmacological options.
- With your consent, we can liaise with your treating GP regarding the outcome of your consultation.
- Follow up to assess the effectiveness of your individual treatment plan.
MAKING AN APPOINTMENT
Anyone can make an appointment to come and see us.
You may self-refer to the service or request a referral by your treating GP. We request that you complete a medical information questionnaire prior to attending the initial doctor’s appointment. To ensure that our doctors with a special interest in menopause have the opportunity to discuss your concerns, we offer longer appointments.
Health information produced by SHFPACT that describes gendered health needs and issues is not intended to exclude trans and gender diverse people. Please seek advice from your health professional regarding health risks that relate to the interaction of biological sex, and other therapeutic intervention including hormonal medication.