Menopause & Consulting Your Doctor

For some women, the symptoms of the menopause come and go without any real problems, but this is not always the case. Although it is normal to experience symptoms in the run-up to the menopause, during the perimenopause, in some cases, symptoms may be more severe than others and it may be necessary to seek medical advice.

If you get to the point when your symptoms are affecting your day to day life, the menopause is really getting you down or it's stopping you from living normally or your symptoms are very severe, it is a good idea to see your GP. Some women find gong to their GP about the menopause embarrassing, but your GP is there to help and they can provide treatments and advice, which could have a very positive effect. If you would rather see a female GP than a male doctor, specify this preference when you call to make an appointment.

Period problems

It is normal to undergo abnormal and irregular periods when you are approaching menopause, due to declining levels of oestrogen in your body; however, period problems can be worrying and if you are not sure whether your periods are 'normal', see your GP. It is also a good idea to book an appointment if you experience the following symptoms:

  • menorrhagia (heavy bleeding)
  • long periods (longer than 7 days)
  • severe cramps and abdominal pain

Hot flushes

Hot flushes are the most common physiological sign of the menopause and there are treatments and self-help tips that may work if you find that you have very regular hot flushes or you sweat profusely. If you get to the stage where you are missing out on social engagements or worrying about going to work because of hot flushes or sweating, don't suffer in silence: see your GP. One thing that may be recommended may be keeping a diary to see when you have hot flushes and what triggers them; your diary can help your GP to determine if you are having more hot flushes than is considered 'normal' and also what seems to be bringing them on. Possible treatment options for hot flushes include medication and self-help tips, such as avoiding food triggers and keeping your bedroom cool.

Vaginal symptoms and loss of libido

Anything related to your genitals or sex life can be awkward to discuss with a doctor, but it's important that you get the advice and treatment you need if you are experiencing symptoms such as vaginal dryness, pain when you have sex or a lack of interest in sex. Your GP can provide treatments and also offer advice, which may help to ease symptoms and make you feel more confident and optimistic. Although it can be embarrassing talk to your GP, it is worth remembering that they will probably have been through the same conversations with many patients beforehand and they are there solely to help you. These are recognised symptoms of the menopause, which affect many women, so there's nothing to feel embarrassed about.

The NHS estimates that around 10 per cent of women receive some kind of treatment for menopausal symptoms.

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