There have been lots of very interesting questions coming in this week.
It is great to see that women are really beginning to step forward and get the help they need around menopause issues.
So, let’s get down to business!
Dear Dr Sarah
I had a hysterectomy in my early 40’s but I had kept my ovaries so I didn’t go into the menopause straight away. I started the menopause when I was 50 and I have been taking Estrofem 2mg tables for the past 9-10 years. I have been told over the years to stop taking HRT due to the risk of breast cancer so I stopped taking HRT about 15 months ago.
I was really hoping the menopause was over for me but I couldn’t believe how hard it still is!
My hands are crippled with pain. I feel more 90 than 60 years of age. I still suffer from night sweats and hot flushes during the day.
I am awake every night trying to dry myself with a towel and use a fan in the bedroom trying to cool down.
If you can offer any advice, help or guidance it would be so much appreciated.
I’m sorry to hear you are going through such a difficult time. You raise some interesting issues with your question.
Firstly, around breast cancer risk. There is NO increased breast cancer risk if you are only taking oestrogen treatment without any progesterone. (If you had not had a hysterectomy, you would need progesterone).
There is a very minimal increased breast cancer risk if you take both oestrogen and progesterone, similar to being on the birth control pill once you are over the age of 50. But there are the positives; you feel better so make better food, alcohol and exercise choices, and you have the bone and heart health protective effects of HRT.
Secondly how long does menopause last? It varies hugely but for some it can drag on into your 60s. You may still need a very low dose of hormone or some other treatments to control your symptoms.
Ideally, we would have started your HRT under the age of 60 but there can be exceptions, especially if your symptoms are really affecting your wellbeing as you describe.
So, it is really important to chat to a doctor to figure out the best options for you.
I am 53-years-old and my periods stopped about two years ago. I had some hot flushes but they seem to have passed. The big problem now is dryness and constant itch around my vagina. I find sex really uncomfortable and it is making me avoid it. This is having an effect on my relationship and I don’t want it to go on like this.
Would appreciate any advice,
This is a common problem that can happen from perimenopause right on into your later decades. It happens because you do not have the oestrogen hormone to keep the vaginal skin healthy so it gets dried out, thinner and less lubricated. Good news though! A topical oestrogen cream or gel that you just put down around the vaginal area should sort it out for you. This restores the vaginal skin health and should sort out your problem. If you are not having other menopausal symptoms you may not need full HRT.
For more resources on menopause issues visit: www.completewomenshealth.ie
If you have a question for Dr Sarah email email@example.com.