All About Menopause

Atrayee De
April 24, 2017
Views : 1134
All About Menopause

We are all aging and it is a natural thing. I, mean I too am a woman and it's eventually going to happen to me as well, so I wanted to help all by jotting some essential aspects of this part of our lives. Menopause marks the time in a woman's life when her menstruation actually stops, and she is no longer fertile that is not able to become pregnant. The menopause is a normal part of the life; it is not a disease or even a condition. Even though it is the time of the woman's last period, the symptoms may begin many years earlier. Also, some of the women may experience symptoms for months or years even afterward. In India the average age for the menopause is around 51. Perimenopause is the 3-5-year period before the menopause when a woman's estrogenic levels actually begin to drop.

Here are some key points about menopause:

  1. Menopause marks the end of a woman's fertility
  2. Symptoms of menopause include the following :
    • night sweats,
    • hot flashes,
    • mood fluctuations, and
    • cognitive changes
  3. There are a number of medical treatments and home remedies that can help with symptoms

Symptoms of menopause

Women going through the menopause may experience problems with focusing and learning. Menopause is confirmed when a woman actually has not had a menstrual period for 1 year. However, the symptoms and the signs of menopause generally appear well before that period of 1-year period is over. They may include the following:

Irregular periods

This is usually one of the first symptoms; and is a part of the menstrual pattern changes. Some women may experience a period for every 2-3 weeks, while others will not have one for the months at a time.

Lower fertility

During the premenopausal stage of a woman's life, her estrogen levels will actually drop significantly, lowering her chances of actually becoming pregnant.

Vaginal dryness

This may be accompanied by the itching and/or with the discomfort. It tends to happen during the period of perimenopause. Some of the women may experience dyspareunia (pain during sex). The term "vaginal atrophy" refers to a sort of an inflammation of the vagina as a result of the thinning and the shrinking of the tissues, as well as the decreased lubrication, caused by a lack of the estrogen.

Hot flashes

A sudden feeling of the heat in the upper body. It may start in the face, or in the neck, or chest, it then spreads upwards or even downwards (depending on where it started). The skin may often redden and become patchy, and the woman typically starts to actually sweat a lot. The heart rate may suddenly even increase (tachycardia), or it might become quite irregular or stronger than usual (palpitations). Hot flashes can generally occur during the first year after a woman's final period.

Night sweats

If the hot flashes happen in the bed, they are called the night sweats. Most women say their hot flashes do not last for more than a few minutes.

Disturbed sleep

Sleeping problems are generally caused by the night sweats, but not always. Sleep disturbance may be caused by the insomnia or anxiety. Difficulty falling asleep and the staying asleep increase as women go through menopause.

Urinary problems

Women tend to be quite more susceptible to urinary tract infections, such as cystitis. Urinary frequency may also increase as well.

Moodiness

Moodiness often goes hand-in-hand with the sleep disturbance. Some of the experts as I read say that most mood changes are quite triggered by poor sleep.

Problems on focusing and learning

Some women may also have the short-term memory problems, as well as finding it quite hard to concentrate on something for too long.

Other symptoms of menopause can include:

  • More fat building up in the abdominal region
  • Hair loss or (thinning hair)
  • Loss of the breast size

If left untreated, all of the symptoms mentioned will usually taper off the gradually over a period of 2-5 years. However, symptoms can persist for even a much longer. In some cases, vaginal dryness, the itching, and discomfort can become quite chronic, and eventually get worse if left untreated.

Causes of menopause

  • Estrogen regulates the menstruation, while progesterone is more involved with the preparing of the body for pregnancy.
  • When the ovaries start producing quite less of these two hormones, the perimenopause will begin. In fact, by the time a woman is in her late 30s the ovaries actually start producing less amount of the progesterone and estrogen.
  • A woman's fertility starts to decline a long time before she may actually notice any menopausal or the premenopausal symptoms.
  • As the time passes and the ovaries produce less and less amount of estrogen and progesterone, the ovaries eventually shut down completely, and the woman no longer has any more of the menstrual periods. The vast majority of the females experience a gradual change in the menstrual activity, while some go on normally until they often stop suddenly.
  • Some women may even experience premature menopause- their ovaries fail earlier than they are actually supposed to (before the age of 45).

Although they are rare, ovarian failure can occur at any age. Premature menopause may be caused by a number of the factors, including:

  • Down's syndrome
  • Turner's syndrome
  • Addison's disease
  • Enzyme deficiencies
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hysterectomy surgery (the uterus - womb - is surgically removed)
  • Removal of the ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy surgery)
  • Radiotherapy to the pelvic area
  • Chemotherapy

Menopause Diagnosed

  • A doctor should be able to diagnose the menopause or perimenopause if he knows the age of the patient, has the information about her menstrual patterns, and also receives feedback from her about the symptoms.
  • Apart from a blood test, which can measure the levels of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), there is no definitive test to diagnose the menopause or perimenopause.
  • FSH blood levels rise when a woman is actually going through menopause.
  • However, as FSH levels tend to fluctuate a lot during the menopause and the perimenopause, the test is not that helpful for a diagnosis.
  • Under a certain circumstances, a doctor may order a blood test to determine the level of the estradiol (estrogen).
  • As hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can cause the menopause-like symptoms, a blood test to determine the woman's level of the thyroid-stimulating hormone which might be recommended.

Treatments for Menopause or Perimenopause

Most of the women do not seek the medical advice during the menopause, and many women require no treatment. However, if the symptoms are significantly affecting the woman's daily life, she should actually see a doctor. The type of the therapy depends on the symptoms, medical history, and preferences. Available treatments include the:

HRT (hormone replacement therapy)

The Hormone therapy can be received by a simple patch on the skin that actually releases estrogen and the progestin. Also known as the HT (hormone therapy), HRT is very effective for many of the symptoms that occur during the period of menopause. HRT tops up the woman's levels of the estrogen. However, as with many of the treatments, HRT has its risks and benefits:

Benefits of HRT

  • Effectively treats many of the troublesome menopausal symptoms
  • Helps prevent the osteoporosis
  • Lowers the level of colorectal cancer risk

Risks of HRT

  • Raises the breast cancer risk
  • Raises the ovarian cancer risk
  • Raises the uterine cancer risk (cancer of the womb)
  • Raises the coronary heart disease risk
  • Raises the stroke risk
  • HRT slightly accelerates the loss of the brain tissue in areas important for the thinking and the memory among women aged 65 and over

Low-dose antidepressants

The SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have been shown to actually decrease the menopausal hot flashes. Drugs include the venlafaxine (Effexor), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), paroxetine (Paxil, others), citalopram (Celexa), and the sertraline (Zoloft).

Omega-3

Omega-3 may ease the psychological distress and also the depressive symptoms often suffered by the menopausal and premenopausal women.

Gabapentin (Neurontin)

This medication is effective in the treating hot flashes. It is sometimes used for the treating of the seizures (epilepsy).

Clonidine (Catapres)

This can be taken either orally as a pill or even placed on the skin as a patch. It is effective in treating the hot flashes. The drug is commonly used for treating the high blood pressure (hypertension). However, the unpleasant side-effects are common.

Vaginal estrogen

Vaginal estrogen may be actually applied locally using a tablet, the ring, or cream. This medication effectively treats the vaginal dryness, discomfort during the intercourse, as well as some urinary problems.

Exercise

Exercise during the menopause can have a range of the benefits, including the prevention of the weight gain, reducing cancer risk, the strengthening bones, and also boosting general mood.

Menopause complications

After the menopause, it is common for the following chronic (long-term) conditions to actually appear:

  • Cardiovascular disease - a drop in the estrogen levels has been associated with an increased risk of the cardiovascular disease.
  • Osteoporosis - a woman may actually lose the bone density rapidly during the first few years after menopause. The lower a person's bone density, the higher the risk of developing the osteoporosis.
  • Urinary incontinence - menopause causes the tissues of the vagina and the urethra to lose their elasticity, this can result in the frequent, sudden, strong urges to actually urinate, followed by the urge incontinence (involuntary loss of urine). Stress incontinence may also become a problem in the - urinating involuntarily after the coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting something.
  • Low libido - this may be linked to the disturbed sleep, depression symptoms, and night sweats.
  • Overweight/obesity - during the menopausal transition, women are also more susceptible to weight gain.
  • Breast cancer - women are at a higher risk of having the breast cancer after menopause. Regular exercise after menopause significantly reduces the breast cancer risk.

Some Commonly Prescribed Homeopathic medicines for menopause:

Here are some of the homeopathic medines that you could consider having during menopause.

Natural Remedies

Unless the symptoms are severe, changes in lifestyle and diet might be all that is quite needed to deal with the symptoms:

Hot flashes and the night sweats

  • Plenty of the exercise
  • Avoid the tight clothing
  • Make sure the bedroom is not too hot
  • Try to reduce the levels of stress

Remember the following commonly trigger symptoms for the susceptible people:

  • spicy food,
  • caffeine,
  • smoking, and
  • the alcohol

Sleep disturbance

  • Exercise quite regularly. However, do not exercise too late during the day.
  • Go to bed and also get up at the same time each day - even during weekends.
  • Cut out having caffeine.
  • Learn how to do the deep breathing, guided by the imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Moodiness

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Strenuous the exercise can help - individuals should check with a doctor whether this is safe

Vaginal discomfort and dryness

  • OTC water-based vaginal lubricants or the moisturizers
  • Stay sexually active

Urinary incontinence

The Pelvic floor muscle exercises - the Kegel exercises. If individuals practice it three or four times a day, they will most probably notice a difference after a few weeks.

Menopause is eventually going to be a part of each of our lives, so it's always better to be well prepared and well geared so that we can understand our bodies and understand its needs.

Atrayee De

Atrayee De

Hello everyone, I am a law student, I love reading, researching and singing. Apart from these I also love to dress up, and stay updated with the on going fashion and beauty trends of the glamour industry!

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