While hormone treatment alleviates many menopause symptoms, Davis said longer-term research into the safety of the popular hormone treatment, progesterone, was needed.
Davis prescribes hormone treatment only to women with severe menopause symptoms, and outlines the “very small” risk of breast cancer from the treatment.
“I have a very honest conversation with them and women will make a choice about their quality of life,” she said.
Like many key moments in their lives, twins Demi and Voula Papadoiliopoulos had their last period on the same day.
“It was Christmas Day 2016 and we were in New York,” Demi said.
“Then in April, we started experiencing hot flushes, night sweats, body aches, joint aches.”
This was coupled with insomnia, changes to their once-muscular bodies and a loss of libido.
“I felt dead inside,” Demi said.
Voula added: “We would be sitting on the couch and experience a hot flush at the same time.”
The 53-year-old twins, who live in Bentleigh in Melbourne’s south-east, initially tried to treat their symptoms with Chinese medicine and consulted a naturopath. They had read about the potential risks of hormone replacement therapy and were worried.
But in 2019, after extensive research and ongoing symptoms, the twins sought out Davis and she prescribed them hormone treatment. They said most of their symptoms disappeared within a week.
They would like to see more awareness around the symptoms of menopause and treatment.
While some people experience severe symptoms, others have no noticeable symptoms.
The average age of women with menopause in Western countries is about 50 years old. Peri-menopause – the period leading up to this – can be accompanied by irregular periods, hot flushes and mood changes.
Sarah White, chief executive of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, said many women used the term menopause to also refer to peri-menopause.
She said many women often linked every single problem they experienced in their late 40s and 50s to menopause.
“There is a lot more work to be done to define exactly what menopause symptoms are,” she said.
“A lot of consumers talk about brain fog. Is that because your hormones are fluctuating or is that because you are caring for school-aged kids, plus your elderly parents, plus you have work on? That mental load that women predominantly bear at that point in their life.”
White welcomed discussions about new ways of defining menopause.
“We wouldn’t have been having these conversations five years ago.”
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