Menopause: An issue women do not want to talk about

Menopause is an age-old issue but it has become one of the most important problems in society.

In most countries, research shows that the average age for women's natural menopause is about 50 years old.

According to current life expectancy, postmenopausal women will live for another 30 years, that is to say, the postmenopausal period could account for one-third of a woman's life.

Worldwide, 467 million women were age 50 or more in 1990. By 2030, this number will reach one billion and 200 million.

In China, there are about 160 million postmenopausal women, and 120 million menopausal women are bothered by perimenopausal syndrome every year because of estrogen deficiency.

Women in this phase of life may suffer from many complaints, including those with menopause-specific symptoms and non-specific ones.

Starting from the perimenopausal period, menstrual disorders, vasomotor symptoms and neuropsychiatric symptoms would hit most women, followed by gradually obvious atrophy of the urogenital tract.

Chronic diseases that plague the elderly, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and senile dementia in the later menopause period are also related to long-term estrogen deficiency. All of these will surely influence a woman's quality of life.

However, the general reaction to this among the public and general medical workers still rests on superficial impressions, such as so-called "physiological phenomenon" and "endure to get through it".

Chinese menopausal women instinctively reject all kinds of hormones, though much effort is being made to improve this situation.

The application of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has encountered great resistance.

Very few Chinese women reported previous or current use of HRT, much lower than other countries from a previously published study.

This may come from a variety of reasons: traditional opinions, worrying about the side-effects of HRT and a lack of awareness.

In recent years, the debates about the effects and side effects of HRT remain; the clinical benefits of HRT in relieving climacteric symptoms and offering women an improved quality of life are well documented.

The effective treatment to vasomotor symptoms and urogenital atrophy is still hormone therapy, according to the International Menopause Society's guidelines in 2013.

Hormone therapy can also improve other problems related to menopause, such as joint and muscle pain and sleep disorders.

The Women's Health Initiative has showed that an application of HRT before the age of 60 would mean female mortality rates would fall by 30 per cent.

But like others medical issues, HRT has clear-defined indications, contraindications and conditions of use with caution.

A menopause woman should go to see a doctor to decide whether she can use HRT or not.

After receiving the drug administration, follow-up visits are also very important. This is the only way to make the therapeutic method safer and to benefit more Chinese women.