Menopause: A time to pamper yourself

Most women look forward to menopause with some trepidation. In Western societies this stage is not very well received although, with the increase in life expectancy, a woman will live about a third of her life after menopause. Information and knowledge are key to living it to the fullest.

Much of what happens to a woman at this stage is not only due to menopause, but also to her age, her environment, her partner… Perimenopausal women can prepare themselves to prevent pathologies linked to hormonal deficiency and overcome this phase by improving their quality of life in the years to come.

In contrast to the uneasiness with which Western women experience menopause, in other societies women of this age deserve great social recognition. And in fact, around the world, data indicates that most women achieve their greatest social or professional success at this point in their lives.


What is menopause?

Bust the false myths! The facts are clear.

Menopause is:

  • The definitive cessation of ovarian function.
  • One more stage in the life of every woman.
  • A phase that all women go through.
  • The origin of certain changes and, possibly, of some disorders.
  • An informed woman with healthy habits will enjoy a better quality of life.

Menopause is not:

  • A disease.
  • It does not mean old age.
  • Not all women suffer the same symptoms or with the same intensity.
  • 15% do not suffer any discomfort.
  • It does not mean loss of femininity.


Menopause: How, When and Why

Menopause is the end of the fertile stage, a consequence of the natural aging of the ovaries and the cessation of their reproductive and hormonal function. In this process of loss of fertility, possible hormonal disorders that affect the functioning of the body may occur.

In addition to the natural menopause described above, there may also be artificial menopause, caused by the removal of the ovaries, by chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment, or by abnormal functioning of the ovaries.

Menopause is considered early if it occurs before the age of 45, and late if it occurs after the age of 55.

Climacteric: Climacteric is the period of gradual transition from the fertile to the non-reproductive state. It is divided into three phases:

  • Perimenopause: Stage prior to the cessation of menstruation. Cycle alterations and diverse symptoms appear.
  • Menopause: Definitive cessation of menstruation.
  • Postmenopause: Alterations due to hormonal deficit.


Diagnosis and treatment of menopause

For the diagnosis of menopause, the physician takes into account the symptoms, the woman’s age and a gynecological examination.

A blood test that determines the concentration of different female sex hormones, such as FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and estradiol, can also help diagnose menopause. In the climacteric period, hormone levels show a typical evolution: estradiol decreases and FSH increases.

As a general rule, certain lifestyle habits such as smoking cessation, adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D in the diet, regular exercise and avoiding excessive weight loss are recommended.

It would be advisable for any woman reaching menopause to see a specialist to evaluate the advisability of initiating hormone replacement therapy.

  • Symptoms

All women go through menopause, but not all suffer the same symptoms or with the same intensity. In fact, 15% of women suffer no discomfort at all.

To alleviate these symptoms there are several treatments that the gynecologist can recommend and prescribe according to the characteristics of each woman. Information and healthy habits (diet, exercise, sleep) are always the best basis to live and overcome this stage positively.

Throughout the climacteric period, hormonal deficits can cause short-term, medium-term and long-term symptoms.


Hormonal Treatment: what we know today

  • Get up to date: Preventing, improving and treating climacteric symptoms

Estrogen deficiency is the main cause of the multiple alterations suffered by women during the climacteric period. Hormonal treatment (HT) consists of providing the woman with a supplement of these hormones. Thanks to HT, the minimum hormone levels are restored, allowing a good quality of life to be maintained during the postmenopausal years.

  • Types of treatment:
  • Estrogen-only treatment for women who have had to have their uterus removed.
  • Treatment with estrogens and gestagens for women who continue to keep their uterus.
  • Classification of estrogens:
  • Endogenous: those produced by the female body, such as estradiol, estrone and estriol.
  • Exogenous: those we administer as drugs. We must differentiate between natural, conjugated and synthetic.
  • Present and future treatment

In recent years, the positive effect of estrogen treatments on cognitive ability and dementia prevention has been highlighted. This is a territory yet to be explored and will continue to be investigated. However, the medical consensus also warns of some risks:

  • Not all women can receive HT treatments.
  • The dose prescription should be as low as possible.
  • The duration of treatment should be limited and never exceed 5 years (excluding cases of early menopause), as it may increase the relative risk of breast cancer.
  • Reduces symptoms and improves quality of life
  • Avoids suffocation.
  • Relieves dry skin and mucous membranes.
  • Limits the loss of calcium from the bones.


Preventive care during menopause

If we adopt preventive measures from childhood and adolescence, such as following a correct diet and ingesting the right amount of calcium, we will delay the loss of bone mass. During menopause, we should reinforce healthy habits.

  • Correct diet: varied, rich in calcium and balanced in proteins, sodium, phosphorus… limiting the consumption of coffee, colas, alcohol, fats and carbohydrates.
  • Sunbathe about 15 minutes a day: ultraviolet light transforms dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D, which helps assimilate calcium ingested in the diet.
  • Moderate physical exercise: physical inactivity reduces bone mass formation. If the woman practices some exercise according to her age and general condition, she will achieve a better balance between bone formation and bone resorption.
  • Eliminate tobacco: tobacco contributes to the loss of bone mass, accelerates menopause due to its action on the central nervous system and affects the ovaries, causing them to age prematurely.


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