Menopause marks the end of menstrual cycles. It’s part of being a woman but experiences can vary greatly.
What has been your experience?
For me, it turned out to be a non-event and a mis-diagnosis.
Having female friends and through my mother, I was aware of some symptoms of menopause. In my mother’s case, I didn’t know her menopausal sypmtoms for what they were until years later.
My mother had 2 significant symptoms – mood swings and rashes. In those days, women don’t visit the doctor for such symptoms – people attributed it to ageing, she ate something wrong, etc. It was a challenging period for the family but fortunately it didn’t last too long. Phew!
The common thing I hear about menopause is having hot flushes.
When it was to my turn, I thought nothing about the hot flushes – a sign of menopause, and hopefully it would pass.
Then other symptoms became apparent – anxiety, heart palpitations, trembling hands and muscle weakness, and losing weight. By the way, losing weight seemed a bonus to me — who doesn’t want to lose weight while still eating the same or more? Truth be told, I had concerns of gaining weight as I aged.
With such symptoms, I was advised to visit a gynaecologist. I did and I was prescribed hormone replacement therapy.
I did this for a month or so – it helped with some of the symptoms, but my muscle weakness became more obvious. Exercises I could do before became challenging, and there was no explanation because I didn’t stop exercising.
I went back to the gynaecologist about my muscle weakness. She said that the symptom had nothing to do with menopause and advised me to seek another opinion.
I did visit a GP, and was advised to take a blood test for my thyroid function.
Lo and behold, I had thyroid problems and I was immediately put on medication. I was diagnosed with hyperthyrodism with symptoms of :
- heart palpitations
- trembling hands
- muscle weakness
- increase sensitivity to heat
- unexplained weight loss
The thyroid is a gland situated in the front of the neck. It’s main function is to produce hormones, crucial to the control of various bodily functions. For example, one of the hormones controls the body’s metabolism. If it is too little, it slows down the metabolism (hypothyroidism) and vice versa. Hence this small gland can affect the quality of life.
As I was going through menopause at the same time, the symptoms were more apparent. It could have been easy to simply diagnose all the symptoms to be just as menopause.
On hindsight, could the gynaecologist have asked more questions and referred me to a GP first to rule out thyroid dysfunction, before prescribing hormone replacement therapy?
Thyroid disorder is common in women aged 20-50, who are 5 times more likely than men to develop either hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid) or hypothyroidism (under active thyroid).
Once I started on the thyroid medication, I stopped the hormone replacement therapy.
For someone who has hypothyroidism (under active thyroid), the symptoms are:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Muscle weakness
Some may attribute the symptoms to menopause, ageing, stress from work — but thyroid disorders if left untreated, can give rise to complications:
- Increase risk of heart diseases
- Increase risk of developing pregnancy complications
- Eye problems
My advice is get a blood test done for thyroid function. It’s less expensive to rule this out first before seeing a gynaecologist for menopausal symptoms and correction.
For more information on integrated lifestyle based health, visit www.vitalay.earth
Contributed by LayYong, Wellness Entrepreneur
Conditions & Treatments: Thyroid Disorders www.singhealth.com.sg
Photo credit: Unsplash, OnHealth.com