Facts

On average, menopause starts around the age of 51, although it can occur as early as the age of 30 and as late as the age of 60.
Around 1% of women experience menopause before they turn 40.
Menopause begins with the absence of menstrual bleeding for 12 consecutive months.
Menopause symptoms last from the onset of menopause to death.
On average, menopausal women gain around five pounds over the three year period.

Symptoms

Irregular periods that eventually stop altogether
Hot flushes
Night sweats
Vaginal dryness, discomfort or pain during sex
Reduced libido
Sleeping issues
Having trouble concentrating and remembering
Mood changes
Recurrent urinary tract infections
Bone density loss
Reduced muscle mass
Heart palpitations

Wrinkles 'down there' by Dr Heather Currie


Writes: Dr HEATHER CURRIE, MB BS, FRCOG, MRCGP, DRCOG, MRCGP. Associate Specialist Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Dumfries. Managing Director of Menopause Matters Limited.

You may not like it when wrinkles start to appear on your face because they are a sign of getting older, but you should love wrinkles in your vagina because it’s their disappearance that’s a sign of ageing.

While you put moisturiser on your face to try to keep the wrinkles at bay, it’s possible that vaginal moisturisers could maintain the desirable wrinkles for longer. They are called rugae, and they show that the tissue of the vagina is still elastic and well lubricated – with advancing age, this tissue becomes thinner, smoother and drier.

Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) but under-treated because so many women don’t want to talk about it so they don’t seek help from a medical professional.

Certainly, vaginal moisturisers can be helpful in relieving problems associated with dryness, including sensations of burning or itching and pain, especially during sex. Often women don’t realise their symptoms are caused by dryness.

Vaginal dryness is the easiest of all symptoms to treat and incredibly common, but can have the greatest impact and severity. Flushes and sweats get better over time, but urogenital symptoms get worse, so treatment is important.

There is a lot of work going on to encourage doctors and nurses to talk to patients about GSM. The first guideline introduced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has helped but there is still a lack of awareness.

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