Menopause is a physiological phenomenon where there is transition in a woman's life from being fertile to infertile. This is a natural and inevitable change that affects all women. Menopause occurs when a women has no period or her monthly cycle for 12 consecutive months and can no longer become pregnant naturally. It usually begins between the ages of 45 and 55, but can develop before or after this age range too.
The symptoms of menopause can continue for four years after the actual menopause. There are multiple factors that contribute to menopause, depending on the genetics of the individual and their ovarian health.
The term ‘menopausal transition’ can be used synonymously with the term ‘peri-menopause’
Some people experience premenopause as a time when their hormones begin to change in preparation for menopause. It can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Perimenopause strikes many women in their mid-40s. Other women skip perimenopause and enter menopause suddenly.
Statistically, it is said that only 1% of women attain menopause at the age of 40, and 5% of women have their menopause between the ages of 45 and 50, which is termed "early menopause." The body begins to undergo several changes in response to lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH).
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Every woman has her own unique symptoms that appear suddenly over a short period of time. The symptoms are dependent on lifestyle practices like smoking and drinking and also depend on the impact on the health of the ovary. The most common early signs seen in perimenopause are:
- Less frequent menstruation
- Heavier or lighter periods than you normally experience
- Vasomotor symptoms (VMS), including hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing
- An estimated 75 percent of women experience hot flashes with menopause.
Other common symptoms of menopause include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Reduced libido, or sex drive
- Dry skin, mouth, and eyes
- Increased urination
- Sore or tender breasts
- Racing heart
- Painful intercourse
- Slower metabolic function
- Osteoporosis, or weaker bones with reduced mass and strength
- Mood or sudden emotional changes
- Cataracts and
- Oral guml Disease
- Urinary incontinence
Perimenopause vs. menopause vs. postmenopause
During perimenopause, menstrual periods become irregular. Your periods may be late, or you may completely skip one or more periods. Menstrual flow may also become heavier or lighter. Menopause is defined as a lack of menstruation for one full year. Postmenopause refers to the years after menopause has occurred.
How is it treated and diagnosed?
Usually, your doctor will treat you after running the blood tests. This will help them calculate your hormone levels, usually based on follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These hormones help regulate the development, growth, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes of the body. The blood test will scan for FSH and a form of estrogen called estradiol. Consistently elevated FSH blood levels combined with a lack of menstruation for one consecutive year is usually confirmation of menopause.
You may need treatment if your symptoms are severe and affecting the quality of your life. Hormone therapy may be an effective treatment for women under the age of 60 or within 10 years of menopause onset. This will help with the reduction or management of hot flashes, night sweats, flushing, vaginal atrophy, and osteoporosis. Other medications may be used to treat more specific menopause symptoms, like hair loss and vaginal dryness.
Health and lifestyle changes for menopause
Minor to moderate menopause symptoms can be reduced naturally in several ways. Here are some at-home suggestions for menopause treatment.
Keeping cool and feeling at ease
Wear loose, layered clothing, particularly at night and during warm or unpredictable weather. You can control heat flashes by doing this. You can reduce your night sweats by keeping your bedroom cold and staying away from thick blankets. Consider placing a waterproof sheet below your comforter to shield your mattress if you frequently get night sweats. You can also carry a portable fan to help cool you down if you’re feeling flushed.
Keeping fit while controlling your weight
For assistance in maintaining weight, cut your daily calorie consumption by 400 to 600. Additionally, it's crucial to engage in 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. This can assist and enhance your overall health
Expressing your needs
Discuss any emotions with a near and dear one or a therapist. For them to understand your requirements, you should also try meditation and other relaxing techniques like yoga to get control of your physical & mental stregths.
Taking care of sleep problems
Use over-the-counter sleeping pills to treat your insomnia temporarily, or talk to your doctor about using natural sleep aids. Reduce alcohol consumption and quit smoking, as both cause breathing symptoms to get worse. Your chance of developing health issues may increase if you drink heavily during menopause.
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