Menopause

The menopause is a term used to describe the ceasing of menstruation or periods in women. This does not occur suddenly, unless of cause it follows on from a Total Hysterectomy where the ovaries are removed. In this instance there is a sudden fall in Oestrogen levels, one of the female hormones produced by the ovaries.

Oestrogen is responsible for initiating the bodies change at puberty, so when it falls the changes revert back to almost pre-pubic states. Control of female hormones and many other hormonal pathways is organized and controlled by an area of the brain called the Hypothalamus.

Coupled with the stopping of periods are gradual changes (often the menopause is called the change), which begin before periods stop and can continue for many years afterwards.

Hot flushes, mood changes, tiredness, forgetfulness, irritability and a change in the mucous lining of the vagina (drier), can lead to an overwhelming feeling of depression and emotional instability. It must be remembered that these changes have occurred as a result in a drop in the level of oestrogen and can be corrected by oestrogen uptake either in the form of HRT patches or pills.

In some women these changes are so minimal that they go unnoticed and are not troublesome. Others will suffer more and find it difficult to achieve the right hormonal balance synthetically. It must be stated that there is now a huge variety of Hormone Replacement Therapy on the market along with many alternative health remedies, which are well worth trying.

Osteoporosis and Heart disease are two of the areas most affected by the drop in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen aids the calcium uptake by the bones and helps to protect the heart against disease. It is important if there is a family history of either Osteoporosis or Heart disease, that advice is taken as to either the use of HRT or other preventative medicine to help in these two areas.

Further information can be obtained from the National Osteoporosis Society 01761 471771 and The Amarant Trust 02074 901644, who can advise specifically on the menopause and HRT.

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