The “change of life” (menopause) is a natural phase for women during which the body's hormone balance changes. Increasingly, the ovaries produce less sex hormones as a result of the natural ageing process and related hormonal adjustments. The menopause is therefore a physiological adjustment process and not an illness. Worldwide, an estimated 25 million women enter this phase of life every year. However, the way they experience the symptoms and complaints related to the menopause varies considerably.
Sex-hormone production declines
Women typically go through the menopause between their late forties and mid-fifties. During this phase, ovary activity gradually slows down and stops. The production of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone declines. As a result, menstruation stops, marking the end of fertility.
The first sign that the menopause is beginning is increasing irregularity of menstrual periods. Several years before and until a year after their last menstrual period (menopause) women go through the perimenopause. This is when the real "change" takes place. It is followed by the postmenopause, which covers a period of about ten to fifteen years. The age at which a woman experiences her final menstrual period can vary. The average age is 51.
A wide range of symptoms
The decline in hormone production can lead to various different symptoms which, in some cases, can have a very adverse effect on a menopausal woman's quality of life. It is estimated that around one third of women experience no problems, one third have average menopausal symptoms, and one third suffer severe complaints.
The women affected suffer from hot flashes and night-time sweating. Many also experience other symptoms such as insomnia, loss of energy and libido, mood swings or irritability. The reduced estrogen production can also lead to vaginal dryness, a weak bladder or pain during sexual intercourse.
Serious health risks
Above all, however, there is a risk of serious health problems. The estrogen deficiency causes a loss of bone mass (osteoporosis), and in later years this can lead to bone fractures with severe consequences. Furthermore, studies have shown that women in the postmenopausal phase – i.e. more than a year after their last menstrual period – increasingly suffer from high blood pressure – a common, but controllable risk factor of heart attack and stroke.
Menopausal hormone therapy as a solution
Menopausal complaints are not pleasant – but no one needs to feel helpless in this situation. As a general rule, women affected should monitor their weight, make sure they get regular exercise, stop smoking, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption. But a healthy lifestyle is not everything. A holistic therapy can also involve customized medication, for example a menopausal hormone therapy that suits a woman's individual needs – as offered by Bayer. It represents the most effective and most thoroughly tested therapy for menopausal complaints.
However, a hormone treatment must suit the specific needs of the woman concerned. Numerous studies have demonstrated positive results: menopausal hormone therapy eases hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, and complaints caused by dry mucous membranes. The woman's quality of life improves. Furthermore, menopausal hormone therapy offers protection against osteoporosis in ageing women.
Basically, menopausal replacement therapy supplies the body with sex hormones it can no longer produce in sufficient quantities – in the form of a drug. Bayer offers a, low-dose combination product with natural estrogen and the progestin drospirenone. Drospirenone's properties are very similar to those of natural progesterone. The product relieves not only menopausal complaints such as hot flashes and sweating, but also protects against postmenopausal osteoporosis by increasing bone density. Its unique feature is that drospirenone can prevent the fluid retention and resultant weight gain caused by the estrogen component. Clinical studies have furthermore proven a positive, antihypertensive effect in women with high blood pressure. In the U.S., the product is marketed with a lower drospirenone dose for which the blood-pressure-lowering effect has not been demonstrated.
Advice for patients
Each body reacts differently to medicines. Therefore it is impossible to tell which medicine works best for you. Please consult your physician.