Menopause is a natural transition in every woman’s life and the term is generally used to encompass the whole of a long-lasting process that altogether relates to the end of a woman’s fertility, also known as the ‘change in life’. This change is perfectly normal and a healthy body will constantly adjust to change. However, in today’s world, environmental toxins, poor nutrition, the fact that even a good diet is often lacking in essential minerals, plus the stress of juggling work and domestic life, mean that the body cannot always rebalance itself.
When a woman enters menopause she steps out of the primary child-bearing role that was scripted for her by her hormones. However, there is still a vital, health-enhancing role for her reproductive hormones that now has nothing to do with reproduction and everything to do with maintaining good health. Hormone receptors are found on almost every organ in the body and are essential for our health and wellbeing.
Symptoms of the menopause transition, or premenopause, can begin as early as the age of 35, although most women become aware of the transition in their mid to late forties. Often the timing of this phase is closely comparable to the time when a woman’s mother went through the same transition. However, the length of time and severity of menopause-related symptoms for any individual woman cannot be predicted, and every menopause is unique.
Premenopause and perimenopause
The term “perimenopause” literally means “around the menopause” and refers to the time when the effects of hormonal change become evident through to their disappearance after menstruation has ceased for good. The term is often used interchangeably with “premenopause”, though strictly speaking this relates simply to the time before menopause itself. They refer to the menopausal transition phase when the levels of reproductive hormones become more variable and the effects of these fluctuations are significant. Premenopause can last for 10 years or more, ending one year after the last menstrual cycle – which is the official date of menopause.
Common symptoms during this phase can include:
- Mood swings
- Anger and irritability
- Memory loss
- Hot flushes
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
- Weight gain
- Fluid retention
- Breast tenderness
- Aches and painful joints
- Frequent headaches
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
The term “postmenopausal” describes women who have not experienced any menstrual flow for a minimum of a year, and whose ovaries have become inactive.
A woman’s reproductive hormone levels continue to drop and fluctuate for some time into postmenopause, accompanied by symptoms that may take several years to disappear.
Symptoms are similar to those leading up to menopause, but with more consistency in:
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- Changes in mood, such as feeling tired, irritable, depressed or anxious
- Difficulty concentrating or poor memory
- Changes to the vagina, such as dryness, discomfort, itching and pain during sex
- Loss of interest in sex (loss of libido)
- Urinary problems – such as recurrent urinary tract infections, loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence)
- Joint aches and pains.
How do we treat all stages of the menopause?
As a woman moves through each phase of menopause, hormone levels can fluctuate significantly. Vital hormones, such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone remain important for bones, vaginal and urethral tissues, skin, brain function and cardiovascular health. Balancing and replenishing these hormones remains important for the maintenance of a woman’s health, energy, mood and brain function.
The Marion Gluck Clinic is a pioneer in personalised medicine and care. One size does not fit all, and a thorough consultation, together with appropriate tests, will enable a bespoke treatment path to be developed for the individual’s needs.
As every woman is unique, so are her hormones. Every woman has her ‘own’ menopause and thus every hormone solution is specifically designed for her.