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Menopause Q&A with Dr Rosemary Leonard

Dr Rosemary Leonard is a GP and one of the UK’s leading experts in women’s health.

Menopause = ? written on a piece of paper

Dr Rosemary Leonard answers some of your questions.

Q. I am 52 and have started to suffer really badly from night sweats. It’s driving me mad as it has been going on for some months now. What can I do?

A. Hot flushes and night sweats are some of the most common manifestations of the menopause and are caused by a sudden drop in oestrogen levels. Night sweats can be more annoying than hot flushes as they disrupt sleep. Avoid tea or coffee in the evening as they can bring on night sweats or make them worse. Wear lightweight cotton or silk in bed to help keep you cool. Make sure your bed linen is polyester free and keep spare cotton sheets close to your bed in case you need to change them in the night.

Q. Since experiencing my first menopausal symptoms last year, I’ve been feeling very low and lethargic. Can you suggest anything?

A. Research has linked declining oestrogen levels with low mood and depression in menopause. Other contributing factors can include disturbed sleeping patterns, hot flushes, anxiety and even role changes in midlife. Low mood  shouldn’t be dismissed as a ‘normal’ part of the menopause though and there are numerous ways to combat it. Begin by trying to exercise a bit more – walking and swimming are a good start. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet and cut down on alcohol and caffeine as these can exacerbate hot flushes and mood changes. A natural remedy containing St John’s Wort and Black Cohosh can be effective at managing these symptoms of the menopause.

Q. I am 55 and although I sailed through the menopause relatively symptom-free, in the last six months sex has become painful – what can I do?

A. Relative oestrogen deficiency can sometimes produce vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal lining, which reduces arousal during sex and can make penetration painful. But the menopause needn’t mean an end to your sex life and many women experience a better sex life post menopause. I suggest trying a lubricating cream such as KY-jelly to help any vaginal dryness you may have. And don’t forget that 50 is the new 30, so go enjoy yourself!

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