Frequently asked questions about the menopause
Print out these 10 frequently asked questions and answers about the menopause to discuss with your GP.
1. Can the menopause cause a woman's voice to change?
The majority of women do not experience a voice change during the menopause, although this may be a problem for some.
2. What can I do about the facial hair I've developed as a result of the menopause?
Although many women do not experience any additional facial hair growth, it can be a problem for some. There are a number of hair removal options available to you, including waxing, depilatories (liquids or creams that remove body hair), and laser hair removal. Check with your doctor or a qualified beautician to determine the right hair removal method for you and to ensure that it will not harm your skin.
3. Now that I've begun the menopause, do I still have to be concerned about birth control?
You will know for certain that you have experienced the menopause when you have not had your period for a complete year. Until you have gone for a year without a period, you should still use birth control if you do not want to become pregnant. You should continue throughout life to practise safe sex techniques, including the use of latex condoms, to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
4. My hot flushes aren’t as intense as the ones my friends describe. They’re actually more "warm" than "hot". Is this normal?
While hot flushes are very common in the perimenopause (the time leading up to and around the start of the menopause), not all women experience them, and not all flushes are of the same intensity. Hot flushes can be as mild as a light blush or severe enough to wake you from a sound sleep and associated with perspiration (called night sweats). Most hot flushes last from 30 seconds to five minutes. They usually disappear within a few years after the menopause but in some women continue for decades.
5. I'm perimenopausal and have been told that I should be taking very-low-dose birth control pills. Why?
Compared with regular birth control pills, the lower dose of oestrogen in very-low-dose pills may be safer for perimenopausal women - the perimenopause begins several years before your final period. While regular birth control pills contain 30 to 50 micrograms of oestrogen, these low dose pills contain only 20 micrograms.
6. What are some other benefits of very-low-dose birth control pills?
In addition to preventing pregnancy, the pills can regulate heavy or irregular menstrual periods and may provide protection from ovarian and uterine cancer. The pills may also help prevent bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. However, women with a history of breast cancer, blood clots, or heart disease, or women who smoke, should not take these pills.