9 facts to know about… MENOPAUSE

Leading menopause specialist and founder of the Balance app, Dr Louise Newson, shares some surprising facts to help navigate the menopause maze…

9 facts to know about... MENOPAUSE

by Hope Brotherton |

1 If you’re over 45, you don’t need tests for HRT

‘Many women don’t know that if you’re over 45, have irregular periods and other typical symptoms, you can ask a health professional to diagnose your menopause and prescribe HRT without the need for tests.’

2 Misdiagnosis is sadly common

‘Many women are being misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and even long Covid, as clinicians are not thinking about female hormones.

‘Also, too many women are being misdiagnosed with depression and anxiety when their psychological symptoms relate to the perimenopause and menopause.

‘When you visit your GP, go with evidence-based information about your menopause or peri-menopause, so that you receive the right treatment for you.’

3 You can ask to be referred

‘If your treatment isn’t helping, don’t be afraid to push for a referral to a menopause clinic. Be clear about your reasons, keep a record of your symptoms, download the Health Report on the Balance app and show these to your GP.’

Dr Louise Newson

4 You might need testosterone

‘As well as regulating our sex drive, testosterone helps to regulate our mood, memory and concentration. Not all women will need testosterone, but do talk to your GP if HRT alone is not helping with these symptoms.

‘Testosterone is usually given as a cream or gel, or occasionally as an implant. It’s currently not licensed to women in the UK, so you might find your GP is reluctant to prescribe it.

‘However, there’s plenty of evidence which shows that testosterone for women can be both safe and effective and it is prescribed by many menopause experts.’

5 HRT lowers your risk of serious diseases

‘The menopause is a long-term hormone deficiency, with long-term health risks, and HRT reduces these risks.

‘Research shows the risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart problems, stroke or vascular dementia reduces by 50 per cent when taking HRT.

‘In addition, studies show HRT can also reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, depression, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer as well as other cancers.’

6 There are dozens of types of HRT available

‘HRT is a flexible treatment and by talking to your doctor about your symptoms, age, medical history and personal choice, you can be prescribed the type which is safest and best for you.

‘The most common type of oestrogen in HRT is 17 beta-estradiol. This is derived from yam plants, a root vegetable, and is known as a ‘body-identical oestrogen’ as it has the same molecular structure as oestrogen produced in our bodies.

‘Oestrogen is available via a skin patch, gel or spray — it’s absorbed through the skin, bypassing the liver and leading to fewer side effects.

‘Oestrogen is also available as an oral tablet, though this is less commonly used as there’s a small risk of clot associated with it. The progesterone part of HRT can be taken as an oral tablet or the Mirena coil.’

7 Black or Asian women may be at greater risk

‘Even though research shows that women from Black or

Asian backgrounds are more likely to suffer from

menopause symptoms, there just isn’t enough support out there.

‘Yet for these women it’s even more important — some women from Black and Asian backgrounds are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes — two conditions the menopause puts women at risk of.

‘My advice is not to suffer in silence — if something doesn’t feel right, visit your doctor.’

8 The post-menopausal years bring positivity

‘With the right treatment, a healthy diet and regular exercise you can really enjoy and thrive in your post-menopause years.

‘Most women will see symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats subside post-menopause and your mood, energy levels and sex drive should all improve.

‘However, one symptom that can persist is vaginal dryness, so carry on with treatment for this symptom long-term.’

9 There’s no cut-off date for HRT

‘As long as you feel you’re getting the benefits then you can carry on taking it. I’ve had patients in their 90s still taking HRT, and it will continue to safeguard against long-term health risks like osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.’

Edited by Stephanie May

● Visit balance-menopause.com or download Louise’s free Balance app at balance-app.com

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