Menopause affects women in different ways. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and some women have no symptoms at all.
Is menopause the same for all women?
No. Menopause is a highly individual experience. Symptoms vary from mild to severe although some women have no symptoms at all.
In some women the symptoms last for less than one or two years, but other women have them longer.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
The main symptoms of menopause are hot flushes and night sweats. Severe hot flushes and night sweats can disrupt sleep causing tiredness and irritability. Hot flushes and night sweats can start even when a woman is still having periods. Eventually though, periods get less frequent and stop.
Other symptoms of menopause may include:
- poor sleep pattern due to night sweats
- vaginal dryness
- painful intercourse
- itchy skin.
Other period changes such as bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex or very heavy periods are not part of menopause and need to be investigated.
Some symptoms may be related to stress or other factors, rather than menopause.
Although a number of psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, forgetfulness and loss of interest in sex are often blamed on menopause, there is no evidence these are especially part of menopause.
These symptoms can occur in both men and women, and people of all ages.
Is there a link between menopause and osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition where bone tissue is lost or destroyed more quickly than the body can replace it. As a result bone density lessens, the skeleton becomes weakened and there is increased chance of fracture.
Osteoporosis is not directly a symptom of menopause but when a woman's oestrogen level drops at menopause, she can lose bone strength which can increase the risk of fractures later in life.This is more likely in Pākehā and Asian women than in Māori or Pacific women.
Routine bone density screening is not recommended at menopause, unless you have risk factors such as a personal or family history of fracture with minimal trauma.
Recent research suggests it is not appropriate for older women to take calcium supplements to reduce the risk of hip fractures.
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