Menopause management in Singapore
The menopause is the time when a woman stops having periods, and she’s no longer able to get pregnant. It’s common to have symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and mood changes when you go through the menopause.
The age at which women go through the menopause varies but it’s usually between 40 and 58.
Symptoms of the menopause can include the following.
- Irregular periods – you may get your periods more or less often, before they stop completely.
- Hot flushes and night sweats – during a hot flush, your head, face and neck can become very hot for several minutes. At the same time, you may have heart palpitations and feel anxious or irritable. Hot flushes can be followed by chills. When flushes happen during the night, they’re known as night sweats.
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) – you may find it hard to sleep because of the night sweats. This lack of sleep may cause you to feel tired during the day.
- Changes in your mood (eg, feeling irritable, depressed or anxious) – lack of sleep can make these symptoms worse, and can also cause difficulty in concentrating, and poor memory.
- Vaginal symptoms (eg, dryness and pain during sex) – these symptoms are due to your vagina becoming fragile and thinner. You may also have some itching and irritation.
- Loss of interest in sex (reduced libido) – the hormonal changes of the menopause can affect your sex drive. You may also have less interest in sex if you have vaginal symptoms that make you uncomfortable (eg, vaginal dryness or pain).
- Urinary problems – these symptoms include repeated urinary tract infections, leaking urine and needing to go to the toilet more often.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
If you’re finding it hard to manage your symptoms, your GP may suggest you try hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT can help some symptoms of the menopause, such as night sweats and hot flushes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. It can also help reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Most symptoms improve within three months of starting HRT.
HRT works by helping to restore your blood levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. The therapy can be oestrogen alone or a combination of oestrogen and progesterone. HRT comes in tablets, patches, skin gels and nasal sprays, as well as vaginal rings.
You may have heard of some potential risks associated with taking HRT. These include increased risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. These risks are greater for women aged over 60, and are more of a concern if you have taken HRT for a long time. Nowadays, your doctor is likely to prescribe HRT only for short-term relief of symptoms. For women under the age of 60 who take HRT for only a short time, the benefits usually outweigh any potential risks. However, it’s important that you discuss this with your doctor.