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Treating menopause symptoms

Managing menopauseMenopause affects everyone differently. Most women will experience some of the wide range of symptoms. In some, they are mild, while for others they are quite severe. Your symptoms can last for a few months or several years.

You can manage many symptoms through lifestyle changes and self-help techniques, but you may need some help from your GP if your symptoms are more severe or if you're concerned about any symptoms.

Self-care for menopause

You may be able to reduce the effects of menopause on your body by:

For hot flushes, you can:

Make sure you get enough sun so you get enough daily Vitamin D to help keep your bones strong.

Try using relaxation techniques to help minimise stress and anxiety. There are also many good techniques for improving your sleep habits. Not getting enough sleep is not only unpleasant, it can also affect your quality of life, increase your risk of accidents, and reduce your concentration and memory.

For vaginal dryness, you can try using a lubricant, or your doctor may prescribe an estrogen-based vaginal cream.

Some people find complementary therapies such as acupuncture, vitamins, and herbal remedies are helpful, but there is limited research to say whether or not they work.

You may find this short video about some of the options for managing your symptoms (including complementary therapies) useful.

Remember that you still need contraception:

Menopause hormone therapy

As you go through menopause, your ovaries produce less of the hormone estrogen. This is what causes most of the symptoms of menopause. Menopause hormone therapy (MHT), which used to be called hormone replacement therapy (HRT), replaces some of those hormones.

MHT may be an option for you if you:

Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of MHT with you so you can decide if it's right for you.

There are two types of MHT: estrogen-only MHT and combined MHT, which includes estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen-only MHT

Estrogen-only (no progesterone) MHT is suitable if you've had a hysterectomy and no longer have a uterus (womb). This means you do not need progesterone to protect the lining of your uterus. It's available as a tablet or a patch.

Combined MHT

Combined MHT includes estrogen and progestogen. If you still have a uterus, you need to take combined MHT because taking estrogen only can increase your risk of getting cancer of the uterus.

This short video explains the different types of MHT and the different ways of taking it.

Taking MHT

If troublesome symptoms of menopause are affecting your everyday life, you can probably take MHT safely. The benefits of MHT should outweigh the risks. Discuss this with your doctor.

It's not suitable if you have:

This short video explains the safety and risks of MHT.

The length of time it's safe to take MHT depends on your particular situation and how bad your symptoms are. Many women need to take it for a few years. Generally, it's considered safe for five years.

However, if you still have troublesome symptoms you might need to take it for longer than five years. Your doctor may suggest stopping or reducing your dose to see if your symptoms have settled down. They may also suggest changing to a different preparation which is safe to use long-term.

Managing menopause symptoms, and the risks and benefits of treatments, can be a confusing subject. Talk to your GP about any concerns. Read more about lifestyle and behavioural modifications for menopausal symptoms.

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On the next page: Bleeding after menopause

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2021.

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Review key: HIMNP-12236