Every women will reach menopause, the time that marks the end of their menstrual cycles. All women experience menopause differently. In Singapore, most women reach menopause around the age of 49. This can be a difficult period for the women as they experience physical and emotional fluctuations caused by changes in hormones. However there are ways one can cope with and alleviate these symptoms.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Menopause is a natural biological process. During this transition, different women may experience varying degrees of symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweat
- Irritability and mood swings
- Body aches
- Vaginal dryness
Cessation of menstrual periods for a year marks the diagnosis of menopause.
Stages of menopause
The process evolves gradually over 3 stages.
The first stage, perimenopausal shift, is often indicated by a shift to irregular cycles of prolonging interval and lighter menstrual flow. Women may have occasional episodes of hot flushes, insomnia or vaginal dryness.
The 2nd stage, menopause, is marked by cessation of period for a year.
The 3rd stage, post-menopausal years, are those following menopause. Many of the symptoms may ease for most women and one should gradually regain normal energy and well-being.
What can we do about these symptoms?
Most women are able to cope with the symptoms and would not require treatment. In some, simple lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help to manage the symptoms and improve one’s health.
- Hot Flushes: Simple measures such as regular hydration and dressing in light layers can help to alleviate hot flushes.
- Insomnia: Avoiding triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and practising relaxation techniques may help to improve sleep.
- Vaginal Discomfort: Staying sexually active can help with discomfort.
Is there treatment for menopause?
Most women would not need treatment for menopause. However, for a small group of women with severe menopausal symptoms, medical treatment can be useful.
Hormonal replacement therapy is the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. You can apply estrogen vaginal cream directly to the vagina to relieve vaginal dryness. The lowest, most effective dosage is often provided to relieve the symptoms and avoid complications. Estrogen also helps to prevent bone loss.
Alternative medicine has also been promoted to help in the management of menopausal symptoms. For example, the herb black cohosh has been popular amongst women. Acupuncture may also have transient benefit in helping to reduce hot flushes.
Do you need to see a doctor?
Generally, most women cope well with their transition into menopause. However, please seek medical advice if you notice the following:
- Frequent and irregular menstrual periods, especially with increasing menstrual flow and pain.
- Severe symptoms that disrupt your work, relationships or family.
- Severe depression with suicidal thoughts and rapid weight loss
Menopause is an inevitable part of being a woman. Keeping a healthy lifestyle and healthy body will certainly help you transit this period well.
Dr Ng Ying Woo is a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology with advanced laparoscopic skills. He believes in holistic care for his patients and has vast experience in performing surgeries and deliveries. Dr Ng is passionate about offering the best surgical solutions for management of gynaecological conditions.