By Aly Dilks, Advanced nurse practitioner with a specialist interest in menopause
Menopause is a normal result of the ageing process and not an illness or a disease and every woman will go through it at some point, whether they notice it or not. Natural hormonal decline is inevitable.
Some women can have very few symptoms during their menopausal years, and their periods just stop. Other women suffer a variety of mental and physical challenges, many of which can be very debilitating, having a negative effect upon their quality of life.
In turn this can have an impact on relationships with their partner, family and work colleagues.
Many women confuse their symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, forgetfulness, poor sleep and worsening migraines, with working too hard and busy lifestyles. However the real cause of these life-changing effects could be falling hormone levels.
Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), to supplement these falling hormones, has many health benefits as well as reducing the symptoms associated with the menopause. These include protecting you against osteoporosis and heart disease.
“I see so many ladies in my clinic who are struggling with poor memory and are afraid that they have dementia. We have oestrogen receptors in our brain and once we become menopausal and levels of circulating oestrogen fall, many women suffer from brain fog and poor memory. Being prescribed HRT does not only prevent this but can also protect you from developing vascular dementia. I see so many ladies in high powered jobs who are struggling in the workplace. Being prescribed HRT can reverse this and enable them to function in their full capacity.” – simplymenopausal.co.uk
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones, meaning that even after a low impact fall, they can break easily.
Bone is a living tissue that regenerates throughout our lives, and up to the age of 30, we generally build more bone than we lose. As we then get older, our bone tissue starts to naturally decline.
Oestrogen aids absorption and retention of calcium, which helps to maintain strong healthy bones.
As oestrogen level declines during the menopause bone breakdown rate is more rapid than build-up, and ultimately the bones become much weaker.
Replacing the lost oestrogen by taking HRT can help to maintain bone mass and strength.
Cardiovascular disease refers to the conditions that affect our heart and blood vessels such as heart attacks, angina, stroke and vascular dementia.
Oestrogen protects arteries by preventing the build-up of fatty plaques which could cause the arteries to harden and narrow, and therefore prevent enough blood and oxygen reaching our vital organs.
Heart disease risk rises for everyone as they age, but for women symptoms can become more evident after the onset of menopause. Menopause does not cause cardiovascular diseases. However, certain risk factors increase around the time of menopause and can be reduced by taking HRT. In addition women should take care of their heart through regular exercise & good nutrition, and by eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking.
There are so many women who are suffering unnecessarily due to a lack of knowledge and understanding around the symptoms of menopause and the benefits of HRT.