Women’s Health: Menopausal signsPosted on: 27 August 2010 by Mark O'haire
It’s common knowledge that as we get older we suffer more from ill health and for many women, the symptoms of the menopause can easily be confused with other ailments.
When women reach menopausal age, most will often be worried about their health and even describe feeling ill. For some, the first sign that a change is happening maybe tiredness and a realisation that physical activity is becoming a great effort. Heavy periods may be a problem and some women may become anaemic, so for those women going to the doctor with no other obvious symptoms, a blood test to check for anaemia may be necessary.
However, most women do not just have one problem when they seek help. They may have hot flushes, night sweats and poor sleep, as well as mood swings and general aches and pains. For those women in their late 40’s and older they may feel it is the menopause looming and seek a definitive answer from their doctor.
You may be offered a blood test, but the problem with diagnosing the menopause is that because of the fluctuation in hormones and irregular bleeds, one blood test could show that the menopause has started, but a normal result may also be likely and because of this possibility of varied results some health professionals could miss the perimenopause and the patient may continue to suffer.
Other investigations may come back normal and the woman could be left to get on with the ill feeling which can have a knock on affect on the women and loss of confidence in the health professional.
Be aware of the signs
Be aware about your body and know what signs to look for. These are some of the health issues seen before, during and after the time of the menopause.
Headaches & migraine
Some women get these all their lives before a period but it can become a constant problem as menopause approaches. The decline in hormones can cause this and treatment is difficult. Various pain killers are used including migraine preparations, if you wish to try a natural alternative try Arkopharma’s 100% essential oil roll-on Migrastick. In some cases HRT may also be an option for treatment.
Skin conditions such as Rosacea and Acne can be a problem as the oestrogen declines. Problematic skin often surprises older women who may not have had these problems in adolescence, but the cause is the same, fluctuating hormones. Your health care professional may be able to help with this so don’t feel embarrassed to seek treatment.
Generally skin can take a knock with the menopause. Dry skin can be itchy, look dull and for those who suffer from eczema it can be worse during this time. The best treatment is to moisturise the skin with a good moisturiser, use it all over, not forgetting the feet. There are specialist creams such as the Phyto Soya Age Minimising Cream that is specifically formulated and is worth a try.
Tender breasts can be distressing, this is a common problem before periods but also during the menopause. Try taking a high dose of Evening Primrose, this helps most people.
Change of shape with thickening round the middle affects most menopausal women and some gain quite a lot of weight which can lead to ill health. Heart attacks, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, breast cancer and high blood pressure are just some of the health concerns women face. It’s boring but true that changes in eating habits and regular exercise are the only ways to maintain your weight.
Risk of Osteoporosis
There is an increased risk that Osteoporosis (brittle bones) can happen when your periods stop as bone density decreases post menopause. If you have exercised in earlier life your bones are more likely to be strong but thin, small boned women are at greater risk. A family history of brittle bones, smoking, lack of exercise and high alcohol intake also increase your risk of osteoporosis.
A calcium rich diet and weight baring exercise will help. If you have any worries speak to your health professional and increase soya in your diet. HRT is the most effective preventative way to protect your bones and worth considering if you are at high risk from osteoporosis.
Stress, anxiety & depression
Stress, anxiety and depression are a feature of menopause and start well before your last period. Women who have suffered from PMS and or Post Natal Depressions are more at risk of mental health hormone related illness at this time. Exercise, good diet, Omega 3 oils and walnuts can help - Phyto Soya Ultra & Omega 3 contains omega and this addition helps those with mild to moderate symptoms. However in severe cases the oestrogen part of HRT is known to have a considerable affect on mood and is used as HRT alone or combined with some specific antidepressants known as SSRIs.
Vaginal dryness & water infections
You could be more prone to water infections due to vaginal dryness. The most effective treatment for this is oestrogen cream or pessaries. These can be used by almost any woman including those who have had breast cancer, since the absorption around the body is very low if used as prescribed by a health professional. Increasing soya and red clover in the diet has some effect, but not in those cases that are getting discomfort or recurrent urine infections, so do talk to your health care professional.
To sum up remember the important thing is to keep yourself healthy all through life. There are times in your life when this is even more important because as we age we get more vulnerable and menopause is one of those times. This is not the time to eat, drink and sit around, remember we can live a long time after our menopause so aim to enjoy it and not just tolerate illness when there is something you could do about it before it is too late.
Pat Jones, a primary care practitioner, qualified as a State Registered Nurse in 1968 and has been a specialist in the menopause for over 15 years following her training at Coventry University. Pat currently works as a nurse prescriber within her local GP surgery where she advises on family planning and the menopause, running two busy clinics.
In addition Pat, a British Menopause Society member, delivers talks to thousands of women to help them manage the symptoms of menopause and offers private consultations. Pat recommends women try various methods to manage their menopausal symptoms. For some, this includes phytoestrogen supplements and soya-rich diets. For others, HRT may be a more suitable option.
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