What is Menopause?

A women’s ‘change of life’ occurs when menstruation ends. This means her ovaries stop producing eggs, so she can no longer have children.

In the UK women on average reach their menopause at 52 but it can happen earlier or later. Generally, the menopause doesn’t mean an immediate end to periods, but rather it’s more gradual with periods becoming further apart before they cease entirely.

What are the Symptoms of Menopause?

Every woman's menopause experience is unique to them and can manifest itself in the following symptoms.

  • An irregular pattern of your period.
  • Hot flushes & night sweats.
  • Loss of libido.
  • Tiredness.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Palpitations.
  • Urinary tract infections.
  • Headaches.
  • Mood changes.
  • Discomfort during sex.
  • Sometimes anxiety or depression.

What causes the menopause?

As a woman gets older levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen to begin to decrease causing the ovaries to stop producing an egg each month (ovulation). The menopause is a natural part of ageing.

How can you treat menopause?

Given that the menopause is completely natural, it is more a case of the change being managed rather than treated. Where menopausal symptoms are mild this can be done without seeking further help. However, if symptoms are severe treatments are available. Options include hormone replacement therapy (HRT), tibolone, and clonidine.

How can you treat Menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

HRT is available on prescription. It comes as a gel, cream, tablet, implant or patch and works by replacing oestrogen thereby reducing common menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and urinary tract infections such as cystitis.

In the long-term, it can also lessen the risk of osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones ). HRT can be: oestrogen-only HRT, combined HRT (which includes oestrogen and progestogen) for women who are starting to experience menopausal symptoms but who still get periods, and continuous HRT for post-menopausal women.

How can you treat Menopause with Tibolone?

Tibolone (also known as Livial) is similar to HRT. The difference is it uses a synthetic hormone that acts in the same way as HRT. Taken as a tablet once a day, it can help relieve the symptoms of hot flushes and mood changes while restoring your libido.

Tibolone is only suitable for women who had their last period more than a year ago, also known as the post-menopause. 

How can you treat Menopause with Clonidine?

Clonidine is sometimes prescribed to reduce hot flushes and night sweats. A prescription medication, it does not affect hormone levels. 

If you believe you can benefit from Hormone replacement therapy, Tibolone or Clonidine, you will need to speak with your doctor to get a prescription. 

How can you treat Vaginal Dryness caused by Menopause?

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause. This can cause your vagina to feel sore or itchy and can result in sex becoming uncomfortable or even painful. Vaginal dryness can also result you need to pee more often than usual or increase your risk in getting urinary tract infections. 

A vaginal lubricant can be prescribed to combat vaginal dryness and make sex more pleasurable.

At Chemist Direct, we stock a range of over-the-counter products to help treat Vaginal Dryness. Among this collection of vaginal moisturiser brands that are specially formulated to help treat vaginal dryness such as Sylk and Replen.

How can you treat Menopause with Alternative Remedies & Self-Care?

Regular exercise and relaxation methods (such as yoga) may be helpful in reducing hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia. It’s also worth avoiding triggers such as caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol and cigarettes.

Many women take supplements to help menopausal symptoms. The jury is still out as to which are effective, but popular choices for hot flushes include sage and flaxseed oil; ginseng for improved sleep, ginkgo biloba for circulation and calcium and vitamin D to improve bone health.