Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
Menopause is a natural stage in the life cycle of a woman. However the experience of menopause is as diverse as women themselves.
For some the transition passes with little interruption to everyday life. For others it is a major disruption to their lifestyles, career and sense of well being. The symptoms impacting their physical, psychological and mental health become debilitating and life-changing.
Hormonoe Replacement Therapy (HRT) is positioned as the best solution for women who are experiencing such life impacting symptoms. Credited with being the best antidote to symptoms such as the dreaded hot flushes and night sweats. It is also effective in the reduction of insomnia, joint aches, muscle pains and vaginal dryness. It is suggested it may also improve psychological well being during this time which I think is hardly surprising if it manages to control the previously mentioned symptoms. I would consider that a logical outcome, you would have to feel better if those symptoms are reduced or removed.
As with many things in life the timing of starting the HRT plays a big part in your personal experience with the treatment. It is suggested it is best to start in the years before the commencement of menopause (peri menopause), before your 60th birthday or within ten years of the commencement of your menopause. For the women who go into menopause early take HRT until at lease the natural age of menopause. So if you started at 45 your would need to take it at least until you are 51 (the average age of menopause commencement).
According to the advocates for HRT there are other benefits to engaging in this therapy. Including the prevention of osteoporosis fractures, reduction of the risk of heart disease and there is some inconclusive information at the possible delay or prevention of dementia.
HRT is not for everybody as they consider the potential risks related to this therapy greater than the symptoms of their menopause. The studies show there are increased risks of blood clots, bowel cancer, breast cancer and uterine cancer. These risk although small can be further reduced by the management of your medication regime. Doctors will not recommend HRT for women who have a history of breast cancer, blood clots, heart disease or stroke, or who have endometrial cancer or unexplained vaginal bleeding.
HRT delivery is available through several options which gives women the flexibility of choosing what best suits their lifestyle and personal preferences. There are skin patches, intra-uterine devices (IUD), gels, creams and tablets.
The essential step before commencing HRT is to see your Doctor have a physical and candid discussion regarding the suitability of HRT for your individual menopausal experience.
If you prefer a more natural approach to the management of your menopause there are many choices out there. These can be used as either a complementary treatment or an exclusive treatment depending on your individual circumstance. If you are using mixed modalities it is important that you let the practitioners know what treatment plans you are following.
Possible approaches are:
-Meditation and relaxation therapies
-Traditional Chinese medicine
Counselling also has a part to play in this major life transition. Some women experience real grief over the end of their fertility and need support to process the emotions in relation to this.
So why write about menopause?? I think it is really important to know that you have choices and the right to ask as many questions you need to until you feel comfortable in choosing your preferred support through this life transition. It may be the end of a particular cycle of your life but it is also rich with beginnings and you want to be in your optimum health so you can enjoy what life has to offer.
All images in this article are sourced from http://photobucket.com/images/menopause