Don’t Sweat the Menopause

Ladies, if you are feeling tired, irritable forgetful and it seems like somebody has lit a fire in you -  but not in a good way -  then you could be feeling the effects of menopause.

What is Menopause

Menopause happens when a woman reaches the end of her reproductive life. This usually happens in the early fifties but could happen a few years earlier or later.  Your body stops producing the hormones oestrogen and progesterone that regulate your menstrual cycle.  This causes your periods to stop (yaay!) but also can come with some unwanted side effects such as:
  • Hot flashes and sweats (especially at night)
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Weight gain (particularly around the belly area)
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Dry hair and vaginal dryness

Menopause can also affect bones, causing them to become more brittle and prone to fractures. This is a condition called Osteoporosis.

How to deal with menopause

Menopause is a natural part of life and many women are able to go through the process with mild symptoms.  But for some, the short term memory loss, fatigue and turning into a tropical rain forest at unexpected moments can really affect daily life.  But don’t worry, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms either naturally, or with a little help from your doctor.

Natural Remedies

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Eat smaller, more regular meals
  • Consume more plant based foods, particularly soy which contains phyto-oestrogens and flavonoids which can help with symptoms
  • Take regular exercise – we all should do this anyway but it does really help with hot flashes and fatigue.
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Your GP can prescribe hormones in pill or patch form, which will put your body back to a pre-menopausal state.  HRT is particularly important for women who begin menopause before the age of 45 or those who have had a hysterectomy before 45 and no longer produce their own oestrogen and progesterone. 

Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy

  • Bone density protection – you will be less likely to develop osteoporosis
  • Quality of life – no more of those awful symptoms
  • Skin and hair should improve

Treatment is covered by all Medical Aids

It is worth pointing out that menopausal management is a Prescribed Minimum Benefit condition.  This means that your medical aid must pay for the diagnosis and treatment of your menopausal condition regardless of the plan that you are on (even a Hospital Plan!).  If you use a designated doctor and pharmacy, then you should not have to pay a cent for your treatment and medication.

Drawbacks of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Like all medication HRT does have risks.  Women who have a family history of certain types of breast cancer should not have HRT and neither should women who are at risk of stroke.  Your doctor will advise you on this.

Periods will restart – if the idea of never having periods again sounds like heaven, you may want to avoid HRT as the introduction of hormones will kick your menstrual cycle back into gear. They will probably be lighter than your normal periods but you will still have that monthly inconvenience.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided by the SPAR Group Ltd for general information purposes only. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.