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The menopause is characterised when a woman's menstrual cycle ends. As periods stop, the hormones in the female body change and can cause unpleasant symptoms.
To treat these symptoms, there are a number of treatments to return the balance of hormones.
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The menopause is an inevitable condition which usually affects women between the ages of 45 and 55. On average, in the UK, women reach the menopause at the age of 51.
It is caused by a gradual drop in the female sex hormone oestrogen. This hormone is responsible for influencing female characteristics and regulating the reproductive cycle. As the levels of this hormone taper, a number of significant changes occur.
Ovulation and periods gradually decrease in frequency. Periods cease completely between the ages of 50 and 55.
If you suspect you are menopausal, arrange an appointment to see your GP.
Your doctor will ask you when your last period was, the symptoms you are experiencing, how often these symptoms occur and their severity. From the information you provide, your doctor can provide advice on managing your symptoms and suggest a number of possible treatments.
While explaining the symptoms you are experiencing is usually enough to determine a diagnosis, your doctor may request you to undergo testing to ensure there is not an underlying cause to your symptoms. Possible tests may include:
There are also home test kits, such as the SelfCheck Menopause Test Kit, which look for the hormonal changes in your urine.
The severity of symptoms and their impact differ between women.
Common symptoms of the menopause include:
If you are experiencing symptoms of the menopause which interfere with your lifestyle, speak to your GP about possible treatments available.
Depending on which stage of the menopause you are going through, whether you have had all or part of your womb removed, and how much your symptoms interfere with your life. You should discuss the options with your doctor to determine the right course of treatment for you.
Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) can be used to increase the levels of the hormones lost during the menopause - particularly oestrogen. The two main types of HRT are combined HRT and oestrogen-only HRT.
Combined HRT are usually prescribed for menopausal women who still have their womb. This treatment contains an oestrogen and a progestogen. The oestrogen in this medicine replaces that which is lost during the menopause. If uncontested, however, the oestrogen can increase the thickness of the endometrium which may increase the risk of endometrial cancer. To counteract this, a progestogen is added.
Oestrogen-only HRT are usually recommended for those who have undergone a hysterectomy - a surgery to remove the womb.
There are a variety of different formulations available, each requiring a different regimen.
Moreover, potential risks should be evaluated on a case by case basis. You should consult your doctor for personal, professional advice on which treatment is most suitable for you.
During your treatment for the menopause with HRT, your doctor will schedule follow-up appointments to ensure your treatment is still effective and discuss when your treatment can be stopped.
Speak to your doctor if you notice any changes while taking HRT.
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