Menopause

Menopause

Menopause occurs when a woman’s period stops. It doesn’t stop straight away but instead becomes less frequent. It is generally considered menopause occurs when a woman hasn’t had her period in over a year.

Click here for more advice from our health experts & frequently asked questions about menopause.

Contraception

Contraception

There are a variety of contraception
options available but you should pick the one that best suits your situation and lifestyle.

Click here for more advice from our health experts and frequently asked questions about contraceptives.

Thrush

Thrush

Thrush is caused by a fungus called candida that is normally harmless. Thrush is a condition that is caused by the overgrowth of yeast in the genital area and cause it to be itchy and uncomfortable. Although it can be transmitted through sex, it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.


Click here for more advice from our health experts and frequently asked questions about thrush.

BV (Bacterial Vaginosis)

BV (Bacterial Vaginosis)

BV, also known as Bacterial vaginosis, occurs when there is an increase in certain bacteria in the vagina, causing unusual discharge. It is not considered a sexually transmitted disease but it can increase your risk of getting an STI such as chlamydia.


Click here for more advice from our health experts and frequently asked questions about BV.

Frequently Asked Questions about Menopause

  • What is menopause?

    Menopause occurs when a woman’s period stops. It doesn’t stop straight away but instead becomes less frequent. It is generally considered menopause occurs when a woman hasn’t had her period in over a year.

  • What causes menopause?

    Generally, menopause affects woman over the age of 45 but in some cases it can happen earlier:

    • Medical conditions including Down's syndrome, Turner's syndrome, Addison's disease, enzyme deficiencies and hypothyroidism.
    • Medical treatments and procedure such as a hysterectomy or chemotherapy.
    • Infections such as malaria, varicella and shigella in rare cases.
  • What are the symptoms of menopause?

    • Hot flushes and night sweats
    • Sleep disturbance
    • Vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort
    • Recurring lower urinary tract infections, such as cystitis
    • Brain fog- problems concentrating
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of confidence
    •  Feeling anxious
    • Skin can become dull and dry
  • Menopause treatments

    If your menopausal symptoms are affecting your daily life and stopping you from completing tasks, then there are treatment options for you to consider.

    Treatments include:

    • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)– taking oestrogen to replace the decreasing levels in your body can help to relive symptoms associated with menopause. HRT is available in various forms including tablets, patches and a gel. Although this treatment is effective it also has side effects and it is not advisable for some women who have had breast cancer. It is recommended you discuss this with your GP to ensure suitability.
    • Vaginal oestrogen– this will help to alleviate vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex. It is put inside the vagina in the form of a pessary, cream or vaginal ring and can be used alongside HRT. Over the counter lubricants and moisturisers are also available to lesson vaginal dryness.
    • Anti-depressants– these can be taken to help manage mood swings, low moods and feelings of anxiety which affect many women during the menopause.

    If you are feeling more anxious than usual, you can also take measures to make yourself feel better, making sure that you get plenty of rest, take regular exercise and doing other relaxing activities like yoga could help to improve your mood. It’s also important that you remember that you’re not alone, your feelings are valid and there are a lot of women who are going through the same thing as you.

    Before deciding on a treatment you should talk to your GP about which option would suit you best, as they can talk you through the side effects and benefits of each one.

  • Can you still bleed after Menopause?

    If you are over 45 and haven’t had a period in over a year then you have more than likely gone through the menopause. If after this time you notice any bleeding from your vagina you should visit your GP.

    Even if it:

    • has only happened once
    • it was a small amount of blood, spotting or discharge
    • you don’t have any other symptoms
    • you’re not sure if it’s blood

    Postmenopausal bleeding is usually nothing to worry about; however it can be a sign of inflammation in your vagina or womb, non-cancerous polyps or less commonly cancer.

    Our trained colleagues and Pharmacists  are here to help and offer advice to help support you through menopause so feel free to make an appointment with your local Lloyds pharmacy.

  • Menopause supplements

    If you’re experiencing the menopause you may consider some menopause vitamins and supplements such as Vitabiotics Menopace Plus and Cleanmarine Menomin.

    After the menopause, oestrogen levels fall which can affect bone density. This is why women who go through early menopause are at an increased risk of osteoporosis.

    Some women may therefore be recommended to take a Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is important for healthy bones because it helps your body absorb calcium. It can be tricky to get enough vitamin D from the foods we eat. That’s why you may want to consider taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D, particularly during autumn and winter.

    If you are struggling with sleep there are some magnesium vitamins such as Solgar Magnesium Citrate that might help and we offer a range of vitamins and supplements that can help with joint pain such as Revive Active Joint Complex.

    Dry Skin and hair care solutions

    • Menopause, can bring with it some noticeable changes to your skin and hair. As hormone levels plummet, your skin can become dry, slack, and thin. You may notice more hair on your face and less on your scalp. With the right care, you can lessen these effects. adopting a skin-care routine that you can stick to on a daily-basis and

    witching to a well-balanced diet.

    1.  Two skincare top tips include 1) Wash your face with fragrance-free cleanser that is safe for your dry and sensitized skin.

         2.  Apply moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid, humectants (e.g. glycerin) generously on face and body whenever you feel dry (at least twice a day).

    Try to give skin more moisture with a heavier cream. The Neovadiol range from Vichy laboratories are one option to consider with the day cream, serum and revitalising night cream developed specifically for women going through menopause and should help keep your skin intensely hydrated, soft and comfortable through the day and compensate for moisture loss.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Contraception

  • Condoms

    Condoms work by preventing the man’s sperm from meeting the woman’s fertile egg. They also protect you and your partner against STIs. You can find condoms in your local LloydsPharmacy.

  • Combined pill

    The combined oral contraceptive pill is often just called "the pill". It contains artificial versions of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which are produced naturally in the ovaries.

    If sperm reaches an egg (ovum), pregnancy can happen. Contraception tries to stop this happening usually by keeping the egg and sperm apart or by stopping the release of an egg (ovulation).

    • When taken correctly, the pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This means that fewer than 1 in 100 who use the combined pill as contraception will get pregnant in 1 year.
    • The usual way to take the pill is to take 1 every day for 21 days, then stop for 7 days, and during this week you have a bleed like a period. You start taking the pill again after 7 days. Some pills can be taken continuously without a break. Check with a doctor or nurse.
    • You need to take the pill at around the same time every day. You could get pregnant if you do not do this, or if you miss a pill, or vomit or have severe diarrhoea.
    • Some medicines may make the pill less effective. Check with your doctor if you're taking any other tablets.
    • If you have heavy periods or painful periods, PMS (premenstrual syndrome) or endometriosis the combined pill may help.
    • Minor side effects include mood swings, nausea, breast tenderness and headaches – these usually settle down in a few months. There's a very low risk of serious side effects, such as blood clots and cervical cancer.
    • There is no evidence that the pill will make you gain weight.
    • The combined pill is not suitable if you are over 35 and smoke, or if you have certain medical conditions.
    • The pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so use a condom as well.
  • Mini pill

    The difference between the combined pill and the mini pill is the mini pill only contains one hormone, progestogen. This makes it suitable for woman who can't take the combined pill, are overweight, or have a history of blood clots or high blood pressure.

    The most common side effect is irregular bleeding, which should settle within 3 months.

    The pill is 99% effective when taken correctly every time. You take a pill every day at the same time, with no break between packs of pills.  It’s important to remember they don’t protect you against STIs.

  • Injectable

    Another option is an injectable artificial version of the female hormone, progesterone, which is done every 12 weeks. You can get this injection from your local GP or nurse.

    The injection is 99% effective when taken correctly every time. It’s important to remember they don’t protect you against STIs.

  • IUD Copper coil

    For those women who don’t want to rely on taking the pill every month or an injection every 12 weeks, another option is the copper coil. The coil is a small device inserted into womb and can last 5-10 years. Its works by damaging the sperm and egg.

    The IUD Copper coil releases copper to stop you getting pregnant, and protects against pregnancy for between 5 and 10 years. It's sometimes called a "coil" or "copper coil".

    Some side effects can include heavy periods. It can only be inserted by a specially trained doctor.

    The coil is 99% effective. It’s important to remember they don’t protect you against STIs.

  • Implant

    The implant is a small device inserted into your upper arm that releases the artificial version of the female hormone progesterone and can last up to 3 years.

    Some side effects can include irregular periods. It can only be inserted by a specially trained doctor. The implant is then inserted under your skin – it only takes a few minutes to put in and feels like having an injection. You won’t need any stitches after your implant has been fitted.

    The implant is 99% effective. It’s important to remember they don’t protect you against STIs.

  • The patch

    The patch is a plaster that contains the artificial version of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen. The plaster is worn for 3 weeks and needs to be replaced once a week. You don't need to think about it every day, and it's still effective if you're sick (vomit) or have diarrhoea. It's a good idea to change the position of each new patch to help reduce the chance of skin irritation

    The patch is 99% effective when taken correctly every time. It’s important to remember they don’t protect you against STIs.

  • Vaginal ring

    The vaginal ring contains the artificial version of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen. One ring provides contraception for a month.  You leave it in for 21 days, then remove it and have a 7-day ring-free break. You're protected against pregnancy during the ring-free break. You then put a new ring in for another 21 days. You can insert the ring yourself or have it inserted by your doctor.

    The ring is 99% effective when taken correctly every time. It’s important to remember they don’t protect you against STIs.

  • Diaphragm

    The diaphragm is placed high into the vagina, at the neck of the womb and acts as a barrier. The diaphragm must stay in place for six hours after sex but mustn’t stay in longer than 24 hours. You can get the diaphragm from your GP or local family planning clinic.

    The diaphragm is 92-96% effective when used correctly every time. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t protect you against STIs.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Thrush 

  • What is thrush?

    Thrush is caused by a fungus called candida that is normally harmless. Thrush is a condition that is caused by the overgrowth of yeast in the genital area and cause it to be itchy and uncomfortable. Although it can be transmitted through sex, it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.

    Thrush tends to grow in warm, moist conditions and develops if the balance of bacteria changes.

  • What causes thrush?

    You can get thrush from:

    • Antibiotics
    • Chemotherapy treatments.
    • Tight clothing.
    • Poorly controlled diabetes
  • What are the symptoms of thrush?

    • White vaginal discharge (like cottage cheese), which does not usually smell
    • Itching and irritation around the vagina
    • Soreness and stinging during sex or when you pee
  • How can you treat thrush?

    Our highly trained colleagues are here to offer support and advice on the best way to treat your thrush, which can include cream or vaginal tablets.

  • What can you do to ease discomfort and prevent thrush returning?

    Do

    • Use water and emollient instead of soap to wash the affected area.
    • Dry properly after washing.
    • Wear cotton underwear.
    • Take showers instead of baths.
    • Avoid sex until thrush has cleared up – if you do have sex, use a condom to help stop it spreading.

    It’s important to note antifungal creams can damage condoms and diaphragms. This means your contraception might not work.

    Don’t

    • Do not use soaps or shower gels.
    • Do not use douches or deodorants on your vagina.
    • Do not wear tight underwear or tights.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about BV (bacterial vaginosis)

  • What is BV?

    BV, also known as bacterial vaginosis, occurs when there is an increase in certain bacteria in the vagina, causing unusual discharge. It is not considered a sexually transmitted disease but it can increase your risk of getting an STI such as chlamydia.

  • What causes BV?

    Bacterial vaginosis is caused by a change in the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina.

    What causes this to happen is not fully known, but you're more likely to get it if:

    • You're sexually active (but women who have not had sex can also get BV).
    • You have had a change of partner.
    • You have an IUD (contraception device).
    • You use perfumed products in or around your vagina.

    You're more likely to get an STI if you have BV. This may be because BV makes your vagina less acidic and reduces your natural defences against infection.

  • What are the symptoms of BV?

    • The most common symptom of bacterial vaginosis is unusual vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy smell, particularly after sex.
    • You may notice a change to the colour and consistency of your discharge, such as becoming greyish-white and thin and watery.
    • But 50% of women with bacterial vaginosis do not have any symptoms.
    • Bacterial vaginosis does not usually cause any soreness or itching.
  • How can you treat BV?

    BV needs to be treated with antibiotics so you will need to visit your GP. If you have a same-sex partner, they may also need treatment.

    Our highly trained colleagues are here to offer support and advice so call in and chat with our pharmacists today.

For information on health and wellbeing from the HSE please visit www.sexualwellbeing.ie