Menopause

The Australian nursing and midwifery workforce is predominately female. It is also ageing, which means that many will be going through menopause.

Menopause can affect your health greatly, which in turn can affect your experiences at work and the rest of your life. Here is some information on menopause and what you can do to offset its effects.

If you would like to chat to someone you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.
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Our workforce
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As at June 2016, 89% of registered nurses and midwives were female, and 11% were male.

The average age of a registered nurse or midwife in Australia is 44 years of age, with 37% of registrants aged between 45 and 60 years.

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When does menopause occur?
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Menopause naturally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years of age, with the average age of onset occurring at 50 years.

Perimenopause, which is also referred to as menopausal transition, may occur over five to 10 years before the final menstrual period. Perimenopausal signs and symptoms may include irregular periods, or a change in flow, hot flushes, night sweats, body aches and painful breasts. A woman is considered to be post-menopausal when she has had no periods for 12 months. 

Early menopause occurs between 40 to 45 years of age. This can occur due to a natural loss of ovarian function, surgical removal of ovaries and some cancer treatments.

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Symptoms of menopause
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The symptoms outlined below will not occur for every woman, and not all symptoms may be experienced. Research suggests that 60% of women report experiencing mild symptoms usually lasting four to eight years. A further 20% report no symptoms, and 20% of women report severe symptoms (Col et al., 2009).

The physical and psychological symptoms of perimenopause and menopause may include:

Physical symptoms

  • hot flushes and night sweats
  • body aches and joint pains
  • osteoporosis
  • muscle tension
  • dry skin 
  • itchy skin
  • headaches or migraines
  • dizziness and vertigo
  • digestive problems
  • heart palpitations
  • sleeping difficulties 
  • fatigue
  • loss of libido
  • vaginal dryness
  • urinary frequency
  • unwanted hair growth
  • thinning of scalp and pubic hair
  • tingling extremities
  • bloating, and 
  • breast tenderness or pain.

Psychological symptoms

Lower levels of oestrogen also reduce or lower the level of serotonin. Serotonin is an important neurochemical that regulates mood, emotions and sleep. Symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • forgetfulness, and
  • trouble concentrating or ability to make decisions.
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What can I do next?
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You may want to know about menopause and managing it. The Australian Menopause Society has a range of information sheets that can get you started.

Looking after your general health can help offset some of the effects of menopause, so why not read some of our articles on staying healthy:

Our service provides free and confidential support 24/7, to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

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References
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Col, N. F., Guthrie, J. R., Politi, M., & Dennerstein, L. (2009). Duration of vasomotor symptoms in middle-aged women: a longitudinal study. Menopause, 16(3), 453-457.

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