Feeling dreadful thanks to your hormones? You’re not alone. In the UK, the average age of menopause is 51, and the symptoms are thanks to the changing hormone levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. And seeing as you have receptors for these hormones all over your body, unfortunately, you’ll get symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause from head to toe, too.
You may be having physical symptoms, such as hot flushes and sweats, but also insomnia, joint pains, headaches, palpitations and itchy skin. Psychological symptoms include low mood and depression, anxiety, mood swings and irritability, as well as what is called ‘the menopausal brain fog’ – difficulties with memory and concentration. Your sex life can also be affected, leading to loss of libido, or painful sex.
And that’s not all. Menopause is considered a long-term oestrogen deficiency state and, over time, this increases your risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis – where bones become thinner and more prone to fracture.
This is where Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) comes in – it’s the first line of treatment for menopausal symptoms. It does as the name suggests and replaces the hormones which have depleted. You can start HRT before your periods stop and during the perimenopause. There’s no official stopping time – you can continue to take HRT for as long as you need, if the benefits continue to outweigh any risks.
The positive impact of HRT on controlling symptoms should not be underestimated, as many women report that it helps them get their lives and ‘themselves’ back. HRT also decreases your risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, as well as decreasing your risk of conditions, such as osteoporosis, in the future.
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