Menopause / Perimenopause

Menopause is defined as the final menstrual period. It occurs when there has been a change in a woman's reproductive hormones and the ovaries no longer release any eggs.

Menopause can occur naturally and at the expected age, prematurely or early.

Perimenopause is the stage before natural menopause, and is when the ovaries are running out of eggs. It is often the time when women begin to experience the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, vaginal changes and mood swings.

Hot flushes and night sweats

Hot flushes and night sweats can range from mild to quite severe. Some women find these symptoms disturb their sleep – they may even need to change the sheets during the night because of heavy sweating. Almost all women experience hot flushes and sweats, but these are not always troublesome.

Problems sleeping

Some women have problems sleeping even if they don’t have hot flushes and night sweats.

Changing hormone levels can affect your body clock or make it more difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. This can happen especially if you have other conditions that affect your sleep – for example, pain, snoring or if you have consumed alcohol or caffeine before bed.

Pain in your joints and tiredness

Studies have shown that the hormonal changes of menopause can cause some women to feel pain in their joints or make them feel more tired than usual.

Anxiety or mood changes

Most of us feel anxious at times, but you might find that things that you can usually cope with make you feel overwhelmed with anxiety. You might also feel upset, sad or angry in situations that would not have bothered you before.

These increases in anxiety and mood changes can be caused by hormonal changes.

Dry vagina

Some women feel discomfort in their vagina, especially during sex. This is a common symptom caused by a decrease in moisture produced by the lining of the vagina.

Overactive bladder or discomfort

Women can also find they have bladder changes during menopause. If you have this symptom, you might find you need to urinate more often, you can’t “hold on” or your bladder might feel full and uncomfortable.

Understanding menopause and developing a strategy to manage your symptoms can improve your health and lifestyle considerably. Even if you are not wanting medical management, talking to a doctor about your symptoms and being educated on why this is happening, can make the process a little easier to understand. It is also important to ensure there are no other underlying problems that may be the cause of your symptoms. Our doctors can usually figure this out through a comprehensive assessment and simple investigations.

Management and treatment of menopausal symptoms depend on each individual woman, stage of life, relationships and general level of health and wellbeing. Healthy living, natural and complementary therapies, menopause hormone therapy, or MHT (formerly called hormone replacement therapy, or HRT) and some prescription medications can help relieve menopausal symptoms.

It is important to not just put up with the symptoms of menopause. Our doctors have a special interest in menopause and can help you on your journey.