Menopause is when a woman stops having periods as she reaches the end of her natural reproductive life. This is not usually abrupt, but a gradual process during which women experience perimenopause before reaching post-menopause. The average age of menopause in Ireland is 51. However, this varies widely and 1 in 100 women experience premature ovarian insufficiency (menopause occurring before the age of 40 years).
Oestrogen depletion associated with menopause causes irregular periods and has many other effects on the body. The most common symptoms are hot flushes and night sweats. Other symptoms include mood changes, memory and concentration loss, vaginal dryness, a lack of interest in sex, headaches, and joint and muscle stiffness. Quality of life may be severely affected.
Most women (8 out of 10) experience some symptoms, typically lasting about 4 years after the last period, but continuing for up to 12 years in about 10% of women. Prolonged lack of oestrogen affects the bones and cardiovascular system and postmenopausal women are at increased risk of a number of long-term conditions, such as osteoporosis (NICE Guidelines 2015).
We offer an individualised approach when dealing with diagnosis, assessment and management of the menopause. We provide both lifestyle advice and prescribe pharmaceutical options such as HRT where appropriate. We also offer cardiovascular risk assessment and assess bone health and arrange onward referral for DXA (bone density) scanning.