Not all womenwant treatment to relieve symptoms of the menopause , but treatments are available if you find the symptoms particularly troublesome.
The main treatment for menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) , althoughother treatments are also available for some of the symptoms.
HRT involves taking oestrogen to replace the decline in your body's own levels around the time of the menopause. This can relieve many of the associated symptoms.
HRT has been out of favour since the early 2000s because of a link with breast cancer, but new guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say that HRT is effective and should be offered to women with menopausal symptoms, after discussing the risks and benefits.
There are two main types of HRT:
HRT is available as tablets, skin patches, a gel to rub into the skinor implants.
HRT is extremely effective at relieving menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes and night sweats, but there are anumber of side effects, including breast tenderness, headaches and vaginal bleeding. It'salso associated with an increased risk of blood clots and breast cancer in some women.
HRT is not advisable for some women, such as those who have had certain types of breast cancer or are at high risk of getting breast cancer.
Your GP can give you more information about the risks and benefits of HRT to help you decide whether or not you want to take it.
Ifyou experience hot flushes and night sweats as a result of the menopause, simple measures may sometimes help, such as:
If the flushes and sweats are frequent or severe, your GP may suggest taking HRT.
If HRT isn't suitable for you, or you would prefer not to have it, your GP may recommend other medications that can help, such as clonidine (a high blood pressure medicine)or certain antidepressants .
These medications cancause unpleasant side effects, so it's important to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before starting treatment.
Some women experience mood swings, low mood and anxiety around the time of the menopause.
Self-help measures such as getting plenty of rest, taking regular exercise and doing relaxing activities such as yoga and tai chi may help. Medication and other treatments are also available, including HRT and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) .
CBT isa type of talking therapy that can improve low mood and feelings of anxiety. Your GP may be able to refer you for CBT on the NHS, or recommend self-help options such as online CBT courses. If HRT isn't effective, you might be offered a testosterone supplement.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone, but it can help to restore sex drive in menopausal women. Its not currently licensed for use in women, although it can be prescribed by a doctor if they think it might help.
Possible side effects of testosterone supplements include acne and unwanted hair growth .
However, side effects are very rare.
You can also use over-the-counter vaginal moisturisers or lubricants in addition to, or instead of, vaginal oestrogen.
and sex after the menopause .
Women who have been through the menopause are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis (weak bones) as a result of the lower level of oestrogen in the body.
You can reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis by:
and preventing osteoporosis .
Prematuremenopause, also known as premature ovarian insufficiency, is when a woman experiences the menopause before the age of40.
The two main treatmentsfor early menopause are HRT and the combined contraceptive pill ,as they both contain oestrogen and progestogen.
These treatmentscan help to relievetroublesome menopausal symptoms and reduce the risk of problems such as osteoporosis.
Your doctor will normally recommend continuingtreatment until at least around the time of natural menopause (45 to 55 years of age).
If you're having treatment for your menopausal symptoms,you'll need to return to your GP for a follow-up review after three months,and once a year after that.
During your reviews, your GP may:
Many women will need treatment for a few years, untilmost of theirmenopausal symptoms have passed.
The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. Read more about the symptoms, causes and treatments.
Find out about the different symptoms of the menopause, including hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido, a change in monthly periods and vaginal dryness.
Read about the main treatments for symptoms of the menopause, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the alternatives.