ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2006) 12 S37

The menopause

K Abernethy

Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, United Kingdom.

The menopause is an inevitable event and one which is physiologically normal in women. It marks the end of the reproductive phase and is marked by changes in hormone levels and a cessation of menstrual periods. The menopause transition describes the time leading up to a woman’s final period, along with endocrinological, biological and clinical features of the approaching menopause. Removal of both ovaries leads to a sudden surgical menopause. In the UK, the average age of natural menopause is 51 years. When the menopause occurs before the age of 40 years, it is described as premature and requires different management, particularly in the long term.

The time around the last period is often accompanied by symptoms, some of which may be quite disturbing. Hot flushes, the commonest, occur in around 75% of UK women and can last many years in some cases. Other common symptoms include night sweats and vaginal dryness. Women often report psychological disturbance at this time too, citing poor memory, loss of concentration, low mood and lack of confidence.

The menopause also marks the beginning of a time of accelerated bone loss in women, which in some, may lead to osteoporosis and subsequent fracture, later in life. Prevention of bone loss at the time of the menopause remains an important topic for discussion and in young women in particular, therapeutic intervention may be advised.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) remains the most effective treatment to relieve symptoms, but it not free from risk or side effects.

This aim of this presentation is to increase awareness of women’s needs around the time of menopause and consider ways of improving health at and beyond the menopause itself.

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