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CAUSES AND RISK FACTORSBack to top
DIAGNOSISBack to top
There are multiple interventions that may help to manage and alleviate menopausal symptoms, including a number of simple lifestyle measures:
HEALTHY DIETBack to top
A healthy diet rich in nutrients is important for the menopausal transition, and can also assist with decreasing hot flushes, improving mood, preventing osteoporosis and reducing blood pressure. Additionally, metabolism slows with age, which means women need to have a balanced diet and participate in more physical activity to avoid weight gain.
Include plenty of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, cereals and whole grains to your daily diet, along with good sources of protein such as lean meats and fish. Calcium-rich foods are also important, as are those rich in phytoestrogens such as legumes, soybeans and whole grains.
Be sure to stay hydrated, regularly drinking water throughout the day.
Cut down on caffeine intake (coffee, tea, cola drinks, energy drinks etc.) as this can trigger flushes in some women.
Aim for regular alcohol-free days and limit your intake to a maximum of two standard glasses per day, as alcohol can also trigger hot flushes.
REGULAR EXERCISEBack to top
Regular exercise plays an important role in bone health, muscle tone, cardiovascular health, energy, mood and overall wellbeing. Ideally aim for 30 minutes of moderate level exercise every day. Vigorous weight-bearing exercise (such as weights, walking or jogging) is associated with reduced bone loss. Aerobic exercise, which raises the heart rate, is beneficial for heart health; and flexibility exercises are useful in maintaining muscle tone and keeping joints mobile.
STRESS MANAGEMENTBack to top
Managing stress levels can benefit general health and also help with symptoms of menopause, particularly psychological and cognitive symptoms. Activities such as yoga, relaxation, mindfulness and regular exercise are good examples of stress management strategies.
SMOKING CESSATIONBack to top
SYMPTOMSBack to top
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Loss of libido
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Muscle and joint pain
- Irregular menstruation
- Breast pain
- Mood swings
DIAGNOSISBack to top
In approximately 75% of women, menopause is fairly apparent and diagnoses is made clinically on the absence of menses and the appearance of symptoms. If menopause needs to be confirmed, for example in younger women, blood tests measuring the levels of certain hormones, namely oestrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) (which stimulates the ovaries to produce oestrogen and progesterone) may be conducted.
MAKE SEX MORE COMFORTABLEBack to top
If dryness and thinning of the vaginal lining has made sex uncomfortable, a water based lubricant may be helpful. Local hormone replacement (in the form of a cream or pessary placed in the vagina) can also assist and may be recommended by your doctor.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT)Back to top
HRT can help relieve the symptoms of menopause but the decision to use HRT should be guided by a health professional and be based on your individual needs with consideration of your medical history, risks and benefits. It is important that all women using HRT be reviewed once a year by their doctor.
COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINESBack to top
Complementary medicines commonly used by women during menopause include phytoestrogen supplements, black cohosh, natural progesterone, wild yam creams and other herbal medicines. Due to the great variations in products and limited evidence for the use of some of these remedies, it is important to discuss your options with a qualified health practitioner.
• Kumar, P. and Clark, M. (2009) Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine. Ninth Edition. Edenburgh: Saunders Elsevier. • Martini, H. M. (2004) Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology . Illustrated Sixth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc., as Benjamin Cummings. • Stedman, T. L. (2008) Stedman’s Medical Dictionary for the Health Professionals and Nursing . Illustrated Sixth Edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. • Drewe, J. et al., (2013) The effect of cimicifuga racemosa extracts Ze 450 in the treatment of climacteric complaints- an observational study. Phytomedicine. • Lopatka, L. et al., (2007) Black cohosh in the treatment of menopausal symptoms- results of an observational study with Cimifemin uno. Journal of Menopause. • Schellenberg, R. et al., (2012) Dose-Dependent Effects of the Cimicifuga racemosa extract Ze 450 in the Treatment of Climacteric Complaints : A Randomized Placebo- Controlled Study. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine doi: 10.1155 / 2012 / 260301.
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Vaginal dryness, also known as ‘vaginal atrophy’, is a common condition, affecting as many as half of all women after their menopause.3 The hormone oestrogen, which is produced by the ovaries, helps to keep the vagina moist and maintain the thickness of the vaginal lining.5 After menopause, vaginal dryness and other symptoms that affect the…