Menopause is a natural part of ageing in women.
It is caused by the ovaries producing less of the hormone oestrogen resulting in periods stopping. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years, and the average age in the UK is 51. Menopause occurring under 40 years of age is called ‘premature menopause’ and affects about 1% of women.
Most women will experience at least some symptoms of menopause.
However, the good news is that some simple lifestyle changes can usually help. If not, your GP can offer treatment, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Over the years there have been a number of studies published about the potential risks of taking HRT. However, more recent evidence suggests that the risks of HRT are small and are usually outweighed by the benefits.
If you cannot take HRT, or it does not help, your GP may be able to refer you to a menopause specialist.
Most women do not need any tests to confirm that they are menopausal, but a blood test may be helpful if you are under 45 years of age when you start having symptoms.
If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, and have already tried some simple lifestyle changes, it may be helpful to speak to a GP. However, before booking an appointment at the surgery, we would like you to have completed the following simple steps to facilitate your consultation:-
Step 1: Watch Dr Sophie’s video on Menopause & HRT
Step 2: Read the NHS A-Z topic ‘Menopause’
Step 3: Read the NHS A-Z topic ‘Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)’
Step 4: Read the Women’s Health Concern factsheet ‘Breast cancer risk factors’
Please pay close attention to the section titled ‘Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)’
Step 5: View the Women’s Health Concern ‘Understanding the risks of breast cancer’ Patient Decision Aid
Step 6: Complete the ‘Greene Climacteric Scale’ – a menopause symptom checker
Step 7: Provide up to date height, weight and blood pressure (BP) measurements
Most high street chemists now have machines which will be able to record all three for you. If not, one of our healthcare assistants (HCA’s) can help (by appointment).
Step 8: Book your GP appointment
Once you have completed the steps above, please book a routine appointment with a GP who will be able to discuss your symptoms, review your Greene Climacteric scale score, look at your height/weight and BP readings and discuss your options with you.