Most women become menopausal naturally between the ages of 45 and 55 years according to Australasian Menopause Society. Women can also experience early menopause due to health conditions or after surgery.
Menopause affects every woman differently. Some women deal with hot flushes, urinary problems insomnia, aching joints and muscles and mood changes, among other symptoms.
There are treatments available for the women who have symptoms which are troublesome and/or prolonged. But some experts argue over-medicalisation could be contributing to negative experiences.
Martha Hickey is the Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University of Melbourne and warns that we are over-medicalising this inevitable transition in women and creating self-fulfilling expectations based on fear.
“It’s a natural progression of life. And really what we’ve discovered is that if you give women who go through menopause potent sex steroids for decades and decades… breast cancer risk is increased,” Professor Hickey told ABC Radio National.
For more information about the increased breast cancer risk, read Type and timing of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence
Professor Hickey highlighted that most women don’t want to take treatment for menopause unless they’ve got severe symptoms. So it’s more about ‘what are the options in case I need them.
While there are many treatment options available, according to Jean Hailes for Women’s Health some of the non-medical treatments include complementary medicine, therapies and over-the-counter products.
Women are encouraged to speak with their GP who will consider the person’s individual situation and explain the different treatment options available.