What is the menopause or perimenopause?
The menopause means the periods have stopped. Perimenopause (“peri” meaning around ) can start for years before this point and is when the ovaries start to produce less oestrogen. During this period, many woman may not be aware of these changes. Others may be aware of some changes with themselves but put it down to the other life stresses and strains that they are under.
Many women during their 40s and 50s are juggling children, a job, elderly parents and much more so tiredness, stress, headaches, low libido may all seem reasonable for these reasons.
It is important to note that the perimenopause or menopause will occur in every woman, the average age is 51 in the UK and every woman’s experience will be different. The life expectancy of women in the UK is 82. So this means a woman will spend more than a third of her lifetime in the oestrogen deficient state!
Why consider HRT
Oestrogen is a hormone that is needed in every fibre of a woman’s body incl hair, skin, joints, heart, brain and much more. When the “change” starts to occur which may in her early 40s, the changes may be subtle and may NOT necessarily involve changes to the periods.
It may start with brain fog or anxiety or sleeplessness or much more.
Taking HRT and the right regime is a conversation that needs to be had with the woman and her GP. All women are different and what suits one patient may not suit another. Once started, regular review will be needed to get the right regime as HRT is not a “one size fits all”.
The conversation about menopause and HRT is, thankfully, occurring in the press, media and amongst woman themselves! Some men are even getting in on the conversation!!
But what types of HRT are there? Bioidentical? Body-identical? Gels patches or tablets? Guidance with this decision needs time and experience.
Many clinics offer women “bio-identical” hormones BUT there is no scientific evidence to support their use. Instead body-identical hormones have a wealth of scientific evidence to support their use.
At Private GP Services, we have GPs with a special interest in the menopause and HRT. They can help guide you through what it all means and what is on offer.
The crux of the matter is that for most women under the age of 60, the potential benefits of HRT outweigh the risks of HRT.
Did you know that scientific evidence shows that HRT reduces the risk of dementia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer and osteoporosis. And yet all we hear about are the risks.
Elephant in the room; breast cancer
The Million Women study showed that there is more risk of breast cancer to women under 60 if they are:
- Drink more than 2 units of alcohol a day
It also showed that for women using oestrogen only patches or gel, there was NO increased risk of breast cancer.
Why choose HRT
- Control hot flushes, night sweats
- Improve insomnia, brain fog, migraines, aches and pains, low mood, anxiety, libido and much more
- Improve symptoms of a dry vagina, recurrent cystitis, weak pelvic floor
Myth; HRT does not make you gain weight, the menopause does that
Myth; HRT will make me have clots. Using oestrogen as a patch or gel is without this risk
The information above comes from the Million Women Study and NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidance.
Check out Dr Louise Newson’s website here
Menopause matters here.
Women’s Health Concern factsheet here.
Dr Sibel Peck