On Sunday 18th October is World Menopause Day. Menopause begins one year after a woman’s final period. The menopause is characterised by vasomotor symptoms, most commonly hot flushes and night sweats.1 Up to four in every five women experience these on a daily basis.1 But what is even more worrying is that menopause has a profound psychological impact on sufferers.1,2 One in four women with the menopause are concerned about their ability to cope with life; almost half say they feel depressed, and a third of women say they suffer with anxiety.2 The situation is made worse by a general lack of understanding and support – a view held by approximately two thirds of women.2
Perimenopause is the term used to describe the years before menopause, when the ovaries stop producing eggs and the levels of our body’s sex hormones (oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone) fluctuate and start to fall.
The average age of menopause in the UK is 51 years. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/#:~:text=The%20menopause%20is%20a%20natural,before%2040%20years%20of%20age.
But did you know there are other types of menopause?
§ Early menopause is when the last period occurs before the age of 45. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/early-menopause/. . It is sometimes called premature ovarian failure, or primary ovarian insufficiency because ovaries stop producing normal levels of certain hormones, particularly oestrogen. The cause of premature ovarian failure is often unknown, but in some women it may be caused by:
o chromosome abnormalities, such as in women with Turner syndrome
o autoimmune diseases, where the immune system starts attacking body tissues
o premature ovarian failure can sometimes run in families. This might be the case if any of your relatives went through the menopause at a very young age (20s or early 30s)
§ Chemical menopause is the onset of menopause because of specific medications, including chemotherapy drugs. In some cases, chemical menopause is reversible, and periods resume after treatment stops. https://www.patientslikeme.com/conditions/chemical-menopause
§ Surgical menopause is when a total or radical hysterectomy that removes the ovaries had been undertaken. A woman will experience the menopause immediately after the operation, regardless of age. If a hysterectomy leaves 1 or both of the ovaries intact, there's a chance that they may experience the menopause within 5 years of having the operation. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hysterectomy/considerations/#:~:text=Surgical%20menopause,known%20as%20a%20surgical%20menopause
Further information on the menopause, available treatments, and support can be found at:
References and further reading
1. Gracia CR, Freeman EW. Onset of the Menopause Transition: The Earliest Signs and Symptoms. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am 2018; 45(4): 585-597.
2. Menopause Support. Available at: https://menopausesupport.co.uk/?page_id=60
3: Cramer H, Peng W, Lauche R. Yoga for menopausal symptoms-A systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas 2018; 109: 13-25.
4: Jorge MP, Santaella DF, Pontes IM, Shiramizu VK, Nascimento EB, Cabral A, et al. Yoga practice decreases menopause symptoms and improves quality of life: A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med 2016; 26: 128-135.
5: Buchanan DT, Landis CA, Hohensee C, Guthrie KA, Otte JL, Paudel M, et al. Effects of yoga and aerobic exercise on actigraphic sleep parameters in menopausal women with hot flashes. J Clin Sleep Med 2017; 13(1): 11-18.
6: Crowe BM, Van Puymbroeck M. Enhancing problem- and emotion-focused coping in menopausal women through yoga. Int J Yoga Therap 2019. doi: 10.17761/2019-00020. [Epub ahead of print].
7: Shepherd-Banigan M, Goldstein KM, Coeytaux RR, McDuffie JR, Goode AP, Kosinski AS, et al. Improving vasomotor symptoms; psychological symptoms; and health-related quality of life in peri- or post-menopausal women through yoga: An umbrella systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med 2017; 34: 156-164.
8. Koch AK, Rabsilber S, Lauche R, Kümmel S, Dobos G, Langhorst J, et al. The effects of yoga and self-esteem on menopausal symptoms and quality of life in breast cancer survivors-A secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial. Maturitas 2017; 105: 95-99.
9. Jorge MP, Santaella DF, Pontes IM, Shiramizu VK, Nascimento EB, Cabral A, et al. Hatha Yoga practice decreases menopause symptoms and improves quality of life: A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med 2016; 26: 128-135.