Going through menopause is usually a difficult time for women and there are a lot of physical changes that take place. So often we hear about the hot flushes, sleepless nights and lowered libido. But is it really that bad and what actually happens? Specialist Clinics of Australia owner and clinical director Dr Garry Cussell debunks the top five myths of menopause and sheds light on how to make this time of transition as easy and as possible.
1. It only happens when you reach around 50
Whilst the average age that women hit menopause is 51 to 52 years old, it can in fact happen to women in their 40s (early menopause) or even younger (premature menopause). “Surgery or medical treatments that affect hormones such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can bring on early menopause or premature menopause. Genetic factors also play a role in determining the age a woman will hit menopause but every woman has her own moment,” says Dr Cussell.
2. The symptoms are untreatable without surgery or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Lack of estrogen can cause symptoms such as itchiness, decreased lubrication, and pain during sexual intercourse and incontinence of urine. These symptoms generally appear a few years after the onset of menopause and affect up to 50% of post-menopausal women. “Many women believe that the only way to treat these symptoms is with invasive surgery or Hormone Replacement Therapy but these days there are a lot of safe alternatives out there.” GynaeLase is a quick, non-invasive and relatively painless laser procedure that relieves these symptoms without surgery or HRT. It encourages renewed functional activity in the treated sections of tissue through a special heat effect. Optimum results are usually achieved after three treatments as the process of collagen neogenesis takes time to develop, with the effect of tissue tightening and collagen build-up increasing after each treatment.
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3. Sexual activity becomes non-stimulating or uncomfortable
Laxity and atrophy can be bothersome conditions and impact on happiness and sexual function. “Even the healthiest of women will experience the natural process of laxity, and this can be exacerbated by child birth or weight gain. GynaeLase helps treat these symptoms and the vast majority of patients at Specialist Clinics of Australia who have undergone the treatment have reported improved sexual activity.”
4. You will experience hot flushes
Although hot flushes are one of the most common symptoms experienced by women going through menopause, not all women get them. It’s still not clear exactly what actually causes hot flushes but it’s estimated that four out of five postmenopausal women will experience them. The usual treatment for these is using oestrogen tablets and patches, however these have potential side effects and there are alternative treatments.
5. You’ll gain weight
Decreased oestrogen levels can impact on your body’s metabolic rate but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll gain weight post-menopause. “Keeping a balanced diet and exercising regularly will help you manage your weight. If you notice a sudden change in your weight, despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle, talk to your doctor.”
What was your experience of menopause like? How old were you when it started?