Menopause is a condition that will happen to every woman at some point in their lives. It occurs when ovulation and oestrogen production stops, marking the end of menstruation. Most women undergo menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 years, although it can sometimes happen earlier.
For many women, menopause can bring a range of unwelcome symptoms, such as hot flushes, sleep disturbance, night sweats, loss of libido, and vaginal dryness. While there are a number of ways to manage these symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is perhaps the most commonly known solution.
But HRT is not necessarily a cure-all option. Its effects vary depending on a variety of factors such as the type of hormone used, the form in which it’s given, and the body’s reaction to it. Therefore while it may work for some women, for others HRT is ineffective. After all, every woman’s body is different, so there’s never going to be a ‘magic pill’ that is right for everyone.
Additionally, many women choose not to take HRT due to the potential side effects of the treatment. For while it may reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, bowel cancer and heart disease, HRT may increase the chances of developing blood clots, endometrial cancer or breast cancer – particularly for women who are already at increased risk.
Non-HRT treatment options for menopausal symptoms
Menopause is a different experience for each woman, and a range of non-hormonal options are available to help manage its symptoms as shown below:
Hot flushes, night sweats and mood problems
Regular exercise and a diet full of nutritious food lower the risk for many health problems associated with ageing, and menopausal symptoms are no exception. Not only does a healthy and active lifestyle improve quality of life, it also may help reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep disturbance, and mood issues including depression and irritability.
Other lifestyle factors that may help deal with these menopausal symptoms include:
- Not smoking
- Reducing consumption of alcohol
- Wearing cotton clothes that aren’t too tight on the body
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Practicing good sleep hygiene
During menopause, the loss of oestrogen causes changes in the tissues of the vagina, vulva and bladder. This can cause problems such as vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, and irritation of the sensitive tissues in the area.
Some ways these symptoms may be managed include:
- Vaginal lubricants
- Vaginal moisturisers
- Black cohosh pessaries
- Flaxseed added to food (2 tbsp per day)
- Vaginal oestrogen creams or tablets
- Vaginal laser therapy such as the MonaLisa Touch
As with HRT treatments, these are not cure-all solutions. Additionally, some women are medically unsuitable to use HRT. For instance, vaginal oestrogen may not be suitable for women post-breast cancer, DVT or stroke. While black cohosh may increase the possible risk of liver damage.
Before beginning any treatment for symptoms of menopause, visit a gynaecologist for a professional assessment and treatment plan suited to your individual needs.
Treating vaginal atrophy with the MonaLisa Touch
The MonaLisa Touch is a non-surgical treatment that is used to counteract the effects of vaginal atrophy and restore the health of the vagina. During the simple 5 minute procedure, an intra-vaginal device delivers a precise amount of laser therapy to stimulate regeneration of vaginal tissue and structure.
It results in new collagen formation, and restoration of the pH balance of vaginal mucosa, reversing the symptoms of vaginal dryness and atrophy. It can result in improvement in the hydration and elasticity of their vagina in as little as 30-40 days.
The MonaLisa Touch requires 3 x 5-minute sessions spaced at monthly intervals. It has a high success rate, is painless, and requires no down time from regular activities.
Where to get further advice
Northside Gynaecology is an all-women practice offering treatment for menopausal symptoms, including the Mona Lisa touch, in Brisbane, Queensland. Our practice is located at three convenient locations in Kedron, North Lakes and Caboolture.