What is it?
Menopause is the time at which menstruation ceases. The last menses occurs at an average age of 50, but it can range from as early as 37 to as late as 55 years of age.
Symptoms: Menses may stop abruptly or gradually become less frequent and less heavy over a period of months.
- Hot flushes in the upper chest which spread to the face and neck.
- Night sweats, Palpitations, Depression, Fatigue, Vaginal dryness, Insomnia
- A sensation of an ice cold feeling along the entire length of the spine
Causes: The ageing process. Menopause is a natural stage of life and it does not signify and disease or disorder.
Possible complications: Psychological and/or physical changes which may require medical attention.
Treatment in the home: Since ovulation may still occur in the transition period to menopause, contraception should be practiced until menses has ceased completely for 12 to 18 months. If overweight, reduce to your ideal weight. Have regular blood pressure, breast and pelvic examinations. Exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet. The latter should include an adequate intake of calcium.
When to consult a doctor: If symptoms are severe, prolonged bleeding, if spotting blood appears between menses. If menses returns more than six months after it has stopped.
What the doctor may do: Take a clinical history and do a physical examination, example the nature and causes of menopause, discuss the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy, prescribe hormone replacement therapy in the form of tables to be taken daily; or skin patches to be applied twice weekly; or injections every few months. If you have not had a hysterectomy, prescribe a combination of two hormones (oestrogen and progesterone).This means that menses will continue, or if it has already ceased, it may return. Ask you to return for regular check-ups to assess the efficacy of the treatment and to detect any complications that may occur.