Menopause & Perimenopause

Menopause & Perimenopause

What is the menopause?

The menopause is the natural stopping of a woman’s menstrual cycle, marking the end of her ability to get pregnant. It’s a natural part of ageing – although sometimes can be triggered by surgery or disease – and usually happens between 45 and 55 years of age. Menopause is confirmed when a woman hasn’t had her period for 12 consecutive months.

With age, ovaries stop producing eggs and therefore hormone (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) levels decrease causing a change in menstrual cycles. Physical changes can also occur due to the change in hormone levels.

I can advise on all areas of menopausal health and am known for my supportive, warm yet thorough approach. I am rigorous in my understanding and application of science and thorough in my assessment of each patient’s situation. No stone is left unturned. I have a particular interest in:

  • Menopause and sleep disturbance
  • Menopause and mental health
  • Menopause support in the workplace

What is the perimenopause?

What is the perimenopause?

The time leading up to the menopause is called the perimenopause. The average length of perimenopause is 4 years however for some, this stage can last a few months or up to 10 years.

During the perimenopause – which commonly affects those in their 40’s but can be earlier –women still have periods and can still get pregnant. Within the last 1-2 years of this transition, the drop in oestrogen speeds up and many women will experience menopause symptoms.

What are the common symptoms?

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Everyone’s experience is unique, although most women – around 8 in 10 – will experience at least some symptoms. For many, these symptoms can have a significant impact on their lives. The most common include:

  • Hot flushes – an estimated 75% of women experience hot flushes. They are usually short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest.
  • Night sweats & disrupted sleep – hot flushes that occur during the night and affect sleep, ultimately impacting mood and irritability.
  • Reduced sex drive – loss of libido can be impacted by tiredness, anxiety or pain and dryness of the vagina.
  • Vaginal dryness – changes of the vagina include dryness, itching or pain. This can particularly be felt during sex.
  • Mood changes – low mood, anxiety or depression can be heightened during menopause. Many women are prescribed antidepressants which have no or little impact.

As a practicing NHS GP, I am well-placed to identify symptoms caused by the menopause (or other underlying conditions) and can help to advise on further investigations or treatment needed.

I recognise that symptoms can also affect the ability to perform at work – with 1 in 10 women considering giving up work due to menopause – so can also discuss this, along with lifestyle measures to help with symptom control, during the appointment.

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