As the hormonal changes of the menopause affect every woman differently, each woman needs to work out how best to manage these changes. While we are all unique, attention to diet and lifestyle at this life stage is important for us all since the later effects of the menopause and oestrogen deficiency can be helped by adopting as healthy a lifestyle as possible.
Dr Heather Currie, founder of Menopause Matters and an associate specialist gynaecologist and obstetrician at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, says: “Management should be tailored to each individual, with attention given to improving diet and lifestyle. Replacing declining oestrogen in the body with Hormone Replacement Therapy is also an option.”
If HRT is taken after a hysterectomy, usually oestrogen alone is required. If HRT is taken when the womb (uterus) is still present, then estrogen is taken with a progesterone, which prevents estrogenic stimulation and thickening of the womb lining. Oestrogen can be taken by a daily tablet, twice weekly or weekly patch, weekly patch, daily gel or implant. People respond differently to different types, routes and doses of estrogen and sometimes several adjustments of therapy are required. If possible, any type should be tried for three months before deciding whether a change is required.
“It’s also worth considering alternative therapies or techniques, or prescribed non-hormonal options,” says Dr Currie. “NICE recommends that HRT should be offered for treating menopausal symptoms and is the most effective treatment. However, it’s up to each woman to decide if she feels that treatment is necessary.”