Supporting Women Through Menopause
14 January 2022
Menopause is still a taboo subject that women find sensitive to talk about openly. But the reality is, everyone regardless of gender need to know what menopause is to support women who are going through that phase mentally and emotionally.
Menopause is when a woman’s menstrual cycle stops and is diagnosed in those who have not menstruated for 12 consecutive months. Among the early signs of menopause are hot flushes, vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse and decreased sexual desire, said Dr Thangesweran Ayakannu, Consultant Obstetric and Gynaecologist, Oncology Gynaecologist and Robotic Surgeon at Sunway Medical Centre.
Besides this, women also experience mood swing, trouble sleeping, dry skin, thinning hair, weight gain, slow metabolism and urinary tract infections.
Menopause happens when a woman is between 45 and 55 years old, and first signs will be experienced in their mid to late 40s. The average age women go through menopause is between 50 and 51 years.
However, there is a possibility for younger women to experience menopause early.
“Premature menopause occurs before the age of 40 due to ovaries failing to ovulate regularly, causing hormones to not be produced. However only 1% of women under the age of 40 experience this. It usually occurs due to isolated cases such as the usage of drugs for medical purposes.
“The reasons why premature menopause occurs is due to ovarian removal surgery, uterine removal surgery, side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, autoimmune diseases and so on,” Dr Thangesweran said.
Perhaps many are still unaware but menopause is one of the most difficult phases in a woman’s life due to mental, physical and health changes. Menopausal symptoms can have profound effects on her lifestyle.
“Menopause is a natural physiological change that occurs with the ageing process. Many women wonder how long their symptoms will last and generally, it can last between 5 and 10 years. However, it differs for every woman and symptoms experienced also varies between one to another. For example, hot flushes usually occur 1 to 2 years but can last for 10 years or more for some,” Dr Thangesweran explained.
He encourages women who experience severe menopausal symptoms to seek help. He also believes it is important for family members to help them cope.
“It is important to communicate, learn and understand about menopause. The best way to know the needs of your wife or family member is to talk to her and ask her how you can help get through that phase,” he said, adding that adopting a healthy lifestyle can help slow down the menopausal process.