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29 April 2021 Jewish News

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Some women will need treatment for ›››››››

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Credit: British Menopause Society

s the menopause a natural phenomenon or a disease needing treatment? This is a question I get asked a lot. Women are born with a limited number of eggs, which will, at some time, come to an end. The majority of women in the UK will have reached this stage between the ages of 45 and 52. However, this can also happen in women before or after they reach this age. Once the function of ovaries come to an end, women stop having periods. They can no longer fall pregnant (although contraception is still recommended until the age of 55) and they will have a reduction in hormone production, especially oestrogen. The ovaries are also responsible for releasing a small amount of the male hormone testosterone. Lack of oestrogen can cause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, which may sound trivial in themselves but in many women cause disturbed sleep. Lack of sleep can then lead to irritability, anger, depression, memory loss and what is commonly known as ‘brain fog’. The other very common symptoms are general fatigue, bone pain and sexual dysfunction, such as loss of desire (due to reduction of testosterone levels) and pain during sex. These symptoms can be transient in some women, lasting only a few months. But in around 30 percent of women, they can last for many years. Lack of oestrogen can also affect our

MENOPAUSE ›››››››

general health. We know that our bones are reliant on oestrogen and women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis after the menopause. Osteoporosis is a major cause of fractures in elderly women, leading to hospitalisation, immobility and frailty. Oestrogen also has a protective effect on the heart, and heart disease is more common in women after the menopause; heart attacks in women are rarer below the age of 50. Therefore, long-term health can suffer with the lack of oestrogen. Females born now have a long life expectancy of 85 years. According to the Office for National Statistics, we have a 35 percent chance of living to the age of 90 (meaning 40 years after menopause in an oestrogen deficient state). Women are now a major part of our economy, with 60 percent in paid employment. By the age of 50, women are often responsible for their family, most with children in their teens or young adults. Some women are carers for their elderly parents. With all the responsibilities that women have in society, menopause can have a debilitating effect. Lack of sleep means that functioning the next day with all the different roles will be very difficult. Therefore, although menopause is a natural phenomenon, in some women, this becomes a condition needing treatment. The solutions on offer are firstly through some lifestyle changes. Improving our

diets, maintaining a healthy weight and eating foods rich in natural fruits and vegetables, especially soya products, can help due to a natural type of plant oestrogen present in them. However, other women need to have oestrogen replacement, often in the form of gels or patches, together with progesterone to protect the uterus from the effects of oestrogen stimulation. This will help stop the symptoms of menopause,

such as hot flushes, night sweats and, in some women, also help with loss of libido. In the long term, oestrogen replacement will protect the bones from osteoporosis and also prevent heart disease. Of course, no treatment is without risks and, like anything else, there is a very small increase risk of breast cancer if HRT is taken for a long period of time, and this risk varies depending on which type of HRT is necessary. However, the risks are greatest after five years of HRT use. This risk/ benefit analysis should be discussed in detail with your GP or specialist before making the decision to try HRT. More information can be found on www.menopausematters.co.uk

›››››››››››››››› Moneli Golara is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Barnet Hospital Royal Free Foundation NHS Trust. PA Amanda Jolly: 020 3327 6350

Remote consultations now availale To oo please call 020 8108 3560

Also availale at   Hendon Hospital Private onsultations Private P Physiotherapy

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