Menopause, also known as 'the change of life', is the final menstrual (monthly) period in a woman's life. Symptoms of menopause include no bleeding (period) for twelve months. Other symptoms may include hot flushes or night sweats, aches and pains, crawling or itching sensations on the skin, forgetfulness, irritability and reduced sex drive (libido). The decrease in female hormones may lead to a higher risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Symptoms may be managed with lifestyle changes, hormone therapy and natural therapies. Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, the average being around 50.

As you approach menopause, the production of hormones (for example oestrogen) by the ovaries starts to slow down. You may notice changes in your menstrual cycle for example cycles may become longer, shorter or totally irregular, Bleeding may become lighter or bleeding may become unpredictable and heavy (seek advice from your doctor).Eventually your hormone levels will fall to a point where menstruation (periods) will cease altogether and the menopause is reached.

Healthy Diet
Suggestions for managing menopause symptoms through diet include choosing a wide variety of foods, including plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals, whole grains and small portions of lean meat, fish or chicken several times a week, increase fluids and eat low fat dairy foods with high calcium content and decrease caffeine and limit alcohol (aim for 1–2 standard glasses or less per day).

Regular exercise is important. At least 30–45 minutes on most days of the week will maintain your heart health and improve your general health, keep your bones healthy and prevent bone loss through osteoporosis, help maintain good balance and reduce the risk of injury from falls, provide a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing, possibly help improve hot flushes.

Understand your body’s changes
It is important to understand the changes your body is going through during menopause. There are many different sources of information available.

Avoid smoking
It’s important to avoid smoking because of the associated risk of osteoporosis, coronary heart disease and lung cancer (which may soon exceed breast cancer as the leading cause of death in women).

Think positive
Some women experience mood changes such as mild depression and irritability. These symptoms are often related to physical changes such as hot flushes, night sweats and poor sleeping. It’s important to keep a positive outlook. Consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any significant or persistent changes in mood.

Regular Pap tests and breast checks
You should have Two-yearly Pap tests and A two-yearly mammogram – this is a free, Australia-wide service for women over 40.

Hormone replacement therapy (also known as hormone therapy)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) effectively reduces many of the unpleasant effects of symptoms of the menopause and may be appropriate for short-term use in women with moderate to severe menopausal symptoms. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of hormone therapy with your doctor.


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