Perimenopausal And Menopausal Care

Menopause is a normal phase of a woman’s life. Menopause is defined as the period in time when the ovaries cease functioning and menstrual periods have stopped for at least one year. Although menopause can occur anytime between 45 to 55 years of age, the average age of menopause is 51.

The production of hormones in a woman’s body begins to decline several years before menopause sets in. This period of time is referred to as “perimenopausal” and this is the time when the symptoms like menstrual irregularities, hot flashes, dry skin, decreased libido, joint aches, mood swings, insomnia etc may be commonly experienced. These symptoms may last for several months or years after menopause before resolving spontaneously.

In the past, menopause was often treated as an illness and hormone replacement therapy was considered as the “cure”. The modern women today should understand the changes that are happening to their bodies are physiological. They do not need a cure but may need symptomatic relief from their menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

Menopausal women should also consider the impact of menopause on their risk of chronic disease and their long-term health as menopause increases the risk of contracting heart disease or osteoporosis, which continue after menopause is completed.

Diagnosis
Menopause usually is diagnosed by reviewing a woman’s medical history, symptoms and ruling out other causes for the symptoms. In most cases, hormone tests are not necessary. If there is a question about hormone levels, a blood test can be performed to measure the amount of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in the blood. Other tests also may be done to ensure that a particular symptom is a result of menopause and not some other underlying causes.

Treatment
Most treatments are aimed at treating symptoms rather than altering menopause, which is a natural and healthy condition for most women. Treatments may include:

• Lifestyle changes
• Non-prescription medication like phyto-oestrogens which are oestrogen like compounds found naturally in certain plants (beans), fruits and herbs
• Prescription therapies like hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)
• Treatments for specific symptoms such as lubricants for vaginal dryness or anti-depressants for emotional changes
• Preventive medication or supplements for chronic post-menopausal conditions such as osteoporosis

Incorporated in 2005, Singapore Medical Group (SMG) is a private specialist and primary healthcare provider with a network of more than 20 medical specialties. The Group is committed to its promise of providing patient centred medical care and experience to every individual. SMG has more than 27 clinics and a growing network of SMG Associates clinics all across the island.