The average age of menopause is 51 years however women may experience symptoms before or after then. Menopause indicates the waning fertility of a woman as oestrogen drops and the natural child-bearing years come to an end. There is no need to ‘treat’ menopause unless patients experience troublesome symptoms. It is a natural stage of a woman’s life. Nevertheless, many women in Singapore and beyond (it’s not just the hot weather!) do seek tests and treatment if they experience concerning symptoms.
When does menopause begin?
Menopause occurs on average at age 51 years of age, but can occur anytime between 45 and 55. The term premenopause or perimenopause refers to the phase of life that precedes menopause.
If you are over the age of 45 and have the usual symptoms of menopause, you do not usually need any tests to diagnose menopause. If you are younger than 45 and have symptoms, it is advisable to see your doctor for a check. Early menopause may run in the family but sometimes an underlying medical condition may be the cause.
What are the first signs of menopause?
In the time leading up to menopause, the physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being of women can be impacted by the hormonal changes that come with menopause. The severity and duration of the symptoms experienced can vary greatly among individuals. While some women may experience few or no symptoms, others may face severe symptoms that interfere with their daily activities and overall quality of life, such as:
- Changes in timing of menstruation – this is often the first sign. Menopausal symptoms often start before periods stop. You can experience a change in flow and your periods will become less frequent, before stopping altogether. You should see your doctor if your periods become heavy or more frequent.
- Hot flushes – hot flushes affect three out of four women. Hot flushes can come on suddenly at any time of day, spreading throughout your face, chest and body.
- Night sweats – some women find they wake up drenched in sweat and have to change their bedsheets during the night because of heavy sweating.
- Problems sleeping – changing hormone levels can affect your body clock or make it more difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. This can happen especially if you have other conditions that affect your sleep – for example, pain, night sweats or if you have consumed alcohol or caffeine before bed.
- Pain in your joins – studies have shown that the hormonal changes of menopause can cause some women to feel pain in their joints.
- Tiredness – many women report an increase in fatigue during this time. The problems in sleeping may also contribute to these feelings of fatigue.
- Anxiety or mood changes – most of us feel anxious at times, but you might find that things that you can usually cope with make you feel overwhelmed with anxiety. You might also feel upset, sad or angry in situations that would not have bothered you before.
- Brain fog – this is a collective term for symptoms such as memory slips, poor concentration, difficulty absorbing information and a feeling your brain is ‘woolly’.
- Loss in sexual desire – it is common to lose interest in and pleasure from sex around the time of the menopause; feeling tired, having a low mood and experiencing night sweats can all be contributing factors. There is also a hormonal reason why your libido may feel rock- bottom. Women have testosterone, as well as men, and this hormone can influence our sex-drive. Testosterone levels tend to decline in women during the menopause which may lead to less interest in sex.
- Worsening migraines – If you suffer from migraines, you may find they become more severe and closer together.
- Dry vagina – some women feel discomfort in their vagina, especially during sex. This is a common symptom caused by a decrease in moisture produced by the lining of the vagina.
- Overactive bladder or discomfort – women can also find they have bladder changes during menopause. If you have this symptom, you might find you need to urinate more often, you can’t “hold on” or your bladder might feel full and uncomfortable.
Navigate menopause with treatments from Osler Health
Your menopause is not an illness or medical condition: it is a completely normal life event for women. However, this means that the troublesome symptoms it can bring are all too often under recognised, undervalued and not taken seriously.
At Osler Health, we have doctors who have cared for many women through menopause and are known for their knowledge and holistic approach to menopause treatments and care. Speaking to a doctor who can access a network of allied health specialist care is important. Dr June Tan Sheren is a member of the Australasian Menopause Society and Dr Tash Mirando is a member of the British Menopause Society.
Our clinic in Singapore provides a warm and welcoming environment, with male and female doctors available to support your needs. From routine check-ups and screenings to more specialised care, our team of international doctors can help you navigate menopause. Our doctors can be your partner in wellness: schedule an appointment with us today.