Menopause

I have the coil – how do I know if I’m menopausal?

A change in period regularity, ultimately resulting in your periods stopping, is an inevitable part of the menopause. However, when you have a hormone-containing coil, your bleeding pattern is no longer controlled by your own hormones and therefore it cannot be used to help in the diagnosis of menopause.

However, as with any other woman, there are other symptoms that can suggest your natural hormones are changing. Vasomotor symptoms are the most common – these are things such as hot flushes and night sweats. These affect around 70% of women. Other general symptoms can include sleep issues, generalised aches and pains and headaches. Women often describe psychological symptoms too, such as memory and concentration problems – the classic ‘brain fog’! – and can also have issues around mood change. There are also more physical problems noted due to the hormonal changes such as vaginal dryness, itching and bladder problems.

If you have a hormone-containing coil, are over 45 years and develop these symptoms, it is highly likely this is due to the peri-menopause. Blood tests are not needed as they are often very misleading as they fluctuate a lot. If the symptoms are affecting you significantly, HRT could be an option – and if you have the Mirena coil it can even be used as part of your HRT.

If you are under 45 years and have these symptoms I would suggest going to see your GP as this is considered early for the menopause and blood tests can sometimes be helpful in deciding if you are menopausal. However, interpretation of the results can still be difficult, and diagnosis is generally based on the symptoms you have. Of note, if you are under 40 then I strongly recommend seeing your GP as this could represent premature ovarian insufficiency – HRT is highly recommended for these women.

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