Dr Sarah Gray
GP and Women’s Health Specialist, St Erme Medical
Received honorarium from Viatris
Every woman is an individual and symptoms of the menopause can vary hugely in duration and severity. It is important to understand your own symptoms in order to seek the best support.
Q: For women who are in their 40s, what should they be aware of when thinking about the perimenopause?
Women are born with all the eggs that they ever have; most will never develop. They dwindle over time but the decline in numbers and quality accelerates during the 40’s. At some point in time women will appreciate that there is a change in their body. They have become perimenopausal. This lasts until a year after their last period when they are then deemed to be postmenopausal. The last menstrual bleed normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. It will occur before the age of 40 in about 1% of women.
Perimenopause is all about the remaining eggs which need to be driven harder to work. This tends to shorten the gap between periods. It also increases the natural hormonal roller coaster effect. Women who always had some changes in mood before a period or hormonal headaches will often find that these get worse. They may start to experience the classical menopausal symptoms of hot flushes and sleep disturbance in the days before bleeding that then resolve.
Q: “Can I take what happened to my mum during menopause as a guide for me?”
Following on from above the rate at which eggs are lost tends to follow a family pattern as there are genetic influences. It holds true that the best indicator of age at last period is how old your mum was: even in today’s technological age.
Perimenopause is all about the remaining eggs which need to be driven harder to work.
Symptoms are best described as the response to dropping levels of oestrogen which is the key female hormone in this respect. Oestrogen receptors are found in many body tissues and some will be very sensitive to its loss. Temperature regulation is organised deep in the brain stem. The area of the brain involved has many different influences, but oestrogen is key.
Despite this 25% of women have few or no flushes. They are still menopausal they are just less sensitive to the changes resulting from it. This level of sensitivity also may be genetically determined.
Q: Where can I seek support?
The Menopause and Me website has tailored information about all stages of the menopause, understanding the changes to the body and treatment options.
If you feel you are struggling with any aspect of your menopause journey, ask your healthcare professional for advice and help. You are not alone. Whatever the symptoms, help is available for you.
NON-2022-3948 | March 2022
Menopauseandme.co.uk is a website owned and managed by Viatris.