Dr Radhika Vohra GP and Menopause Specialist
All women who reach their 50’s will go through the menopause when their periods stop.
Many cultures perceive this as a relief and wave goodbye to menstruation. However, the menopause does not pass silently, and most women will have short-term and long-term consequences.
The short-term are commonly: hot flushes, night sweats, tiredness, body aches, anxiety and palpitations. In total the menopause has over 50 recorded symptoms. What has been noticed is different ethnic backgrounds display symptoms to a different extent and this can make recognising menopause more challenging for the women themselves and for the medical practitioners that look after them. Not only this, oestrogen balance is dependent on diet, lifestyle and medical history and for many women the disruption of perimenopause can be disastrous limiting personal life, work and social interactions.
For example, woman from South Asia, whose diet maybe more plant based, tend to suffer from fewer hot flushes, night sweats and skin changes from lack of oestrogen. However, they commonly have more body aches, palpitations and urinary symptoms from the change in oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This often leads to menopause and HRT being considered much later as a cause and sometimes over investigation or reluctance to treatment. Recognising cultural variations is really important in this ethnic group of women as they carry significant longterm risks from menopause.
There is now convincing evidence to show that a woman’s risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and dementia increases during perimenopause and after menopause. South Asian women already have a higher risk of these diseases due to genetic and lifestyle tendencies. Therefore, the early explanation of menopause symptoms, reassurance and treatment with HRT is even more important for South Asian women. It is really important that women can feel more empowered to understand the massive impact menopause will have on their life so they can increase not only their lifespan but also their quality of life.