In Australia, “most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, the average [age] being 51”1. You begin approaching menopause when the eggs that you’re born with begin to run low and your sex hormone production slows down. These hormones usually control menstruation and once they fall below a certain level your menstrual cycle will stop completely – you’ll have reached menopause.
Sometimes the lead-up to menopause can go completely unnoticed, however, there are some tell-tail signs that it is occurring. Hot flashes (80% of women) and memory and concentration difficulties (62% of women)2 are most commonly reported in the lead-up to menopause. Other common symptoms are:
Although the direct symptoms of menopause are physical, such a big transition often affects mental health as well, with some women experiencing symptoms such as:
These are all only potential symptoms, some women may go through the whole transition completely unaware and unaffected.
Menopause can’t be “cured” because it isn’t an illness, it’s a natural process. However, the transition and symptoms can be managed and your discomfort reduced with a bit of care. Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise can help alleviate many of the physical discomforts associated with menopause and have a “flow-on” effect to your mental health.
Diet – Anecdotal evidence suggests that increasing soy-based products in your diet may help ease hot flashes and night sweats. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and spicy food and drink may also reduce hot flashes because they can act as “triggers”. It may also be wise to speak to your doctor or pharmacist if calcium and/or vitamin D supplements are required.
Exercise – Maintaining physical activity is important regardless of your place in life and menopause is no exception. Exercising may ease your sleeping difficulties but make sure to be careful and plan activities so as not to irritate your other symptoms.
Each woman’s experience of menopause is slightly different, in some cases symptoms can go totally unnoticed while other cases are so severe they need treatment. Whatever the case, however severe your symptoms seem to be, you should speak to your local UFS Pharmacist, they can provide you with the information you need to treat your symptoms. A conversation with these professionals can be invaluable, and could even help you to decide, for example, whether you need to eat more greens or undergo Hormone Replacement Therapy.
A friendly reminder to the partners:
“Please don’t make a fuss looking for a solution, I just need someone to listen.”
“Please be flexible, I may need to make changes.”
“You’re not the problem, so please don’t be upset if I stay in the guest bedroom, I’m sweating!”
“Please don’t forget the little things – good morning smiles, a goodbye kiss, an offer to cook, all the support you can give does help.”
1 BetterHealth Channel, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/menopause
2 The Women’s, www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/menopause-information/menopause-an-overview/