October is World Menopause Month and if you are not sure whether you are pre/peri or post menopause this handy guide can help. Wherever you live in the world, you are likely to share common symptoms with fellow menopause sufferers. If you experience the menopause suddenly, as a result of hysterectomy for instance, then your symptoms may be worse rather than gradual as with a natural menopause.
Symptoms will usually last between two and five years before disappearing,although they can last longer and more post-menopausal women are now reporting symptoms such as hot flushes and mood changes.
Key sign 1. Changes in your menstrual cycle may mean lighter, fewer, periods or heavier bleeding which may be linked to fibroids or endometriosis. Progesterone helps regulate the oestrogen dominance that is often at the root of such bleeding.
Key sign 2. Hot flushes and night sweats are the most frequently seen symptoms and they can start in your face, neck or chest, before spreading upwards and downwards. The skin on your face, neck and chest may become red and patchy, and you may also feel a change in your heart rate. It may become very rapid, or it may be irregular and stronger than usual (palpitations).
Key sign 3. Loss of libido (sex drive) the good news is that 51% of the 60 and over age group have sex at least once a week and 34% of the 60+ age group are having sex 2-3 times a week. However, many women do experience a loss of interest at this time and libido is a tricky one to get right. Progesterone can increase sex drive in women, so that can make a difference.
Key sign 4. Vaginal dryness and pain as well as itching and discomfort are often related to low libido. These symptoms combined are known as vaginal atrophy and about a third of women experience this and it is often treated with oestrogen cream or gels from the doctor. Please note they should be used at a time of day when your partner won’t come into contact with it as men can absorb oestrogen in this way. Most vaginal lubricants contain a lot of glycerin, which is ultimately drying but some women find that aloe vera gel works well and others like coconut oil or you can use Serenity or 20-1 vaginally and this often is enough to help discomfort.
Key sign 5. Mood changes such as depression, anxiety or tiredness are experienced by many women. As progesterone is a natural mood enhancer this will help, but for severe symptoms a combination cream such as 20-1 is recommended by US bioidentical expert Dr Jeffrey Dach.
Key sign 6. Sleeping problems such as insomnia are linked to stress, night sweats and anxiety. Lack of sleep can also make you irritable and lead to ‘brain fog’ where you have problems with your short-term memory and ability to concentrate.