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What is menopause?

Menopause refers to the day a woman’s periods stop due to falling estrogen levels. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. Most women have some awareness of what menopause is and of some of the more common symptoms, such as hot flushes, sweats and “brain fog”, but few are aware of the diverse range of symptoms, the physical and psychological impact that these symptoms can have, and importantly, the long-term effects of the menopause itself. 

What is menopause

Many women are confused and scared by the onset of unexplained symptoms, many of which they’ve never experienced before, and so don’t link them to the menopause. In addition, most women are unaware of the significance of the long-term effects of menopause-related estrogen deficiency, which include cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, poor mental health, bladder and sexual dysfunction, and more.

At NewWoman Health, we aim to educate and help women fully understand the effects of menopause and specifically the impact of estrogen loss on their bodies in the short and long term.  This will help them make important decisions about treatment and lifestyle changes with the ultimate goal of optimising the quality and longevity of their lives. 

Understanding the menopause and its short and long term implications can help women turn this transitional phase of their lives into a time of opportunity. The decisions they take at the start of menopause in terms of support (treatment and/or lifestyle decisions) can significantly improve their quality and potential longevity of life.  This guide will explain what menopause is, why women go through it, how to recognise its onset, and how NewWoman Health can help.

Why does menopause happen?

When does menopause start?

The term “menopause” refers to a woman’s last period, however, it is often used to describe the individual changes and symptoms that women go through in the period leading up to and after they stop having periods. Menopause happens when eggs are no longer released from the ovaries (when ovulation stops) and menstrual cycles cease.

At birth, a baby girl’s ovaries contain all the eggs they will ever have. The ovaries also produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone which help to control menstrual periods and the release of eggs, as well as testosterone, which is essential for many biological functions in women.

As women get older, ovarian function declines, and falling levels of these hormones stimulate the processes that lead to the menopause transition. A key aspect of menopause is declining levels of estrogen levels may have a significant impact on women’s well-being and short- and long-term health.

Therefore, knowing how to recognise the onset of the menopause transition is crucial to making the changes necessary to lessen its impact and maintain or improve and optimise quality of life.

Going through menopause: the first signs

The types of menopausal symptoms experienced can vary significantly between women, as can the severity of symptoms. Some women may be affected relatively mildly whilst others may experience debilitating symptoms that significantly impact their overall well-being and ability to manage their day-to-day lives.

Common symptoms that indicate the onset of menopause include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Brain “fog”
  • A racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Weight gain
  • Increased abdominal fat deposition
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  • Changes in libido (sex drive)

The importance of recognising menopause symptoms early

Recognising the symptoms of menopause early is vital in order that women can ensure they understand its potential impact and start to take steps to review  their health and lifestyle so that they  enter this next phase of their lives in the best shape they can. 

A better understanding of menopause means the ability to make informed decisions to optimise lifestyle, and overall quality of life and, potentially, improve longevity.

Impact of menopause on long-term health 

What is menopause

We believe the menopause transition is a time of opportunity – if women impacted by menopause fully understand the effects of estrogen loss on their bodies in the short and longer term, they can make important decisions about whether and what treatment to seek and what changes to make to optimise their health. 

Many women are unaware of the important role that estrogen plays in the functioning of body systems, or that estrogen receptors are present on almost all cells, not just in the reproductive and genital organs, but also in the brain, cardiovascular system, bones, joints and skin, to name a few.

So it is not surprising that menopausal women experience diverse symptoms, ranging from cognitive challenges, such as brain fog, to dry eyes and heart palpitations. 

Likewise, many women do not fully appreciate the protective effects of estrogen. Prior to menopause, women have lower rates of cardiovascular disease than men, and are protected from conditions such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. However, this changes after menopause as estrogen levels decline, and conditions such as cardiovascular disease, for example, begin to occur as, or more, frequently than in men. Clinical studies show that estrogen, when given as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), to women under the age of 60 or within 10 years of menopause onset, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Menopause may also be associated with an increased risk of obesity (see NICE guidelines NG23, 2015). However, HRT alone may not be sufficient to reduce these risks, so addressing lifestyle is also important, including attention to diet and exercise, as well as mental health.

NewWoman Health was created to support women to transition through menopause . We will provide a range of medical and lifestyle experts, all with specialised menopause knowledge, who can provide personalised 1:1 consultations with women to deliver pragmatic and tailored plans to fit their individual lifestyles. 

Many women are not aware of the long-term consequences of estrogen decline which include:

  • Cardiovascular/heart disease 
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Osteoporosis (bone thinning)
  • Muscle loss
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Weight gain
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction including bladder problems and incontinence
  • Mouth and gum problems
  • Loss of sex drive and sexual difficulty
  • Vulvovaginal atrophy (thinning of the vaginal walls)

Socio-economic impact of menopause

According to UK Government analysis, menopausal women are the fastest growing workforce demographic, with women over age 50 making up approximately 13%, from ONS data. 

However, for many, the point at which they have the opportunity to step into critical senior management roles coincides with the onset of menopause – typically between the ages of 45 and 55. 

Around 75% of women experience at least some menopausal symptoms and a reported 25% experience severe symptoms, including depression and anxiety, and poor memory and concentration which may have profound effects on their performance at work.

Worryingly, according to the 2016 Wellbeing of Women survey, one in four menopausal women considers leaving their job because of the severity of their symptoms and negative workplace experiences, for example, in the financial services industry, equating to more than 130,000 women dealing with the menopause transition at any one time.

Understanding these wider societal impacts of menopause will help to ensure that employers create an environment in which women can discuss their challenges at work, and ensure that women are supported to continue their careers.

How to get menopause support and specialist help

NewWomen Health was created to educate, advise, treat and support women approaching, during, and following menopause. We offer a range of medical and lifestyle interventions that help women to manage or minimise their menopause symptoms and improve their quality and potential longevity of life in an aspirational and uplifting way.

These include 1:1 online digital health consultations:

  • Personalised medical consultations
  • Personalised one-to-one fitness and well-being advice
  • Work and life coaching
  • Psychosexual counselling
  • Skin health advice
  • One-to-one nutritional advice
  • Weight management support
  • Women’s (pelvic) health physiotherapy

Book your online consultation today

If you are ready to take the next step forward in learning about menopause and taking control of your future, book an appointment and consultation with one of our team today.

Our doctors and experts are ready and waiting to support you, giving you reassurance and a pragmatic, tailored plan to optimise your life.

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You are not alone. As a local example, in Manchester over 46% of council employees are female and over 40 years old. In a CIPD survey (2019) over 30% of women said they were unable to work because of menopausal symptoms.

Only 25% said they could tell their manager the real reason for their absence. The Council account for nearly 7% of all employment in Manchester. They implemented a new Menopause policy in March 2022. CIPD survey | Manchester Council Menopause Policy | CIPD Manchester

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