Coming up to a certain birthday? At the age of 50, the average British woman is just a year off her menopause - the average age that periods stop is 51. So whether, you're coming up to 45 or 50, a health check could be a brilliant opportunity to ensure you're as fighting fit as possible, and not been felled by the symptoms of menopause.
The menopause can be a time of freedom and renewed purpose, but for many women, there are certain health challenges.
Although the menopause literally refers to the event of a woman's last period, the symptoms associated with the 'change' often start in the 40s and can go on for many years.
These include, struggling with insomnia, forgetfulness, low mood, weight gain, issues with vaginal dryness and of course, hot flushes. As oestrogen depletes in the body, the risk of osteoporosis rises.
When does the menopause happen?
As 51 is the average age of a woman's last period, menopause expert Miss Tania Adib, says it's a good idea that women take the opportunity certain birthdays to ensure their health is in good working order: "Women tend to look after everyone but themselves. So, birthdays are an excellent opportunity to take a pause and really look at one’s health and find out whether there are solutions to niggling issues caused by hormonal changes."
Of course, if you are feeling certain symptoms in your late 30s and early 40s and you suspect the menopause, then might a good time to get a health check and a blood test to monior hormone levels.
Why get a health screening during the menopause?
- 80% of breast cancers occur in women who are over the age of 50
- Ovarian cancer risk heightens as we age
- A health screening will identify ovarian cancer risk
Bone health and the menopause
Professor David Reid, Medical Director of Twenty-five Harley Street and one of the UK’s foremost experts on osteoporosis says the only way to tell whether a woman is at risk of osteoporosis is to have the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX) and a DEXA scan to give a precisely accurate measurement of bone density.
He adds: "Once we know if someone is at risk of osteoporosis, we can treat it, or if detected early enough, help women avoid it completely.”
Which health check?
Your thorough check-up will include:
- Blood Pressure
- Height, weight, full examination
- Urine analysis
- Lung health
- Cardiovascular risk score
- Bone fracture risk assessment (FRAX)
- Well Women/Well Man
- The Essential Blood Ultravit Test + HBA1C Diabetes test
- Abdominal and Pelvic USS
- CA125 and HE4 tests for ovarian cancer
- Bowel Cancer Screen
- CT or MRI colonography
- Plus 30 minute follow up consultation
In addition to the health check, you may wish to have our laboratory run a Female Hormone test, which will check for Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising Hormones (LH), as well as Oestradiol, Testosterone and Sex Gormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) as well as Free Testosterone Index (cal).
Falling oestradiol levels cause the gonadotrophins, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) to rise significantly, particularly FSH. Increased FSH levels are the most reliable indication of menopause.
Is HRT safe?
The current thinking on HRT is that for most women, the benefits outweight the risks.1 For most women HRT is one of the most effective ways of dealing with menopausal symptoms, including issues with low bone density. Miss Adib says: “There has been much debate regarding the safety of HRT, but the evidence is clear that if started around the time of the menopause, it can ensure good long-term bone health as well as having many other positive effects such as treating hot flushes, sweats, low mood, low energy and vaginal dryness.”
HRT can be taken in many different forms such as gels, patches and tablets. The exact type is tailored to each woman’s needs to provide a completely integrated treatment.
Alternatives to HRT
HRT isn’t the only option for menopausal symptoms. Miss Adib says: “In my clinic I use HRT, but also advise on other methods for controlling menopausal symptoms, including herbs, diet and mindfulness.”
“There are so many alternatives that can really help with symptoms and most importantly, long term health. What is vital, is to talk to a menopause specialist who will look at your individual case and help you make an informed decision about what treatment option is best for you.”
However, when taking herbal medications, it is always important go to a registered and qualified practitioner. Always tell your GP or gynaecologist when taking herbs and supplements as some of them are very powerful and have contraindications with other medications.