Women are wonders. Every female is different and so is the menstrual cycle. Different phases hit women during the stages of the cycle.
During periods, some have light flow while others get a heavy period. Some experience pain while others may not feel a thing. Somewhat similar is the case with menopause.
Sadly, taboos and lack of knowledge about this crucial phase of a woman can take a miserable turn. Precautions and care during menopause are a must.
To do so, you must have in-depth knowledge about it. Whether you are a female trying to be self-aware or someone looking up to take care of near and dear ones, your search ends here.
This article will simplify all the information you need to know about menopause.
- 1 What Is Menopause?
- 2 How Long Does Menopause Last?
- 3 Why Does Menopause Occur?
- 4 Symptoms Of Menopause
- 5 Complications Associated With Menopause
- 6 Diagnosing Menopause
- 7 Treatment For Menopause
- 8 Lifestyle Changes To Make Menopause Easier
- 9 Conclusion
What Is Menopause?
To begin with, Menopause is a normal and healthy process every female encounter. Menopause is marked as the phase where a woman does not get her periods for a continuous span of 12 months.
Usually, the normal age for menopause observed is 45-55. Women across the globe have a different average age for menopause. This impact of ethnicity remains unexplained.
Some women might undergo premature menopause at anywhere between 35-40. Females undergoing menopause between 40-45 are termed as early menopause.
The period before menopause is called perimenopause. It goes on for a few months to several years. The bleeding gets heavier or lighter in this phase than the usual flow.
A woman might not get her periods regularly. Some women report missed periods while others experience a delay.
How Long Does Menopause Last?
Menopause symptoms develop gradually in the course of about 4 to 7 years. Menopause is the end of periods assured by absent periods for 1 year.
Post menopause phase can last for 4-5 years when a female undergoes hormonal changes and weight fluctuations. In some rare cases, the symptoms can last up to 12 years.
Why Does Menopause Occur?
Menopause occurs in middle-aged women. As they age, so do the ovaries. The number of eggs is limited and as they exhaust, the female undergoes menopause.
This is due to the loss of active ovarian follicles. These are responsible for releasing eggs timely and for fertility.
The female sex hormone estrogen, the male sex hormone testosterone, fertility hormone progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone also plays a key role in menopausal changes.
With time, these hormones also deplete causing visible symptoms. Usually, the first sign of the onset of menopause is increased bleeding.
Sometimes menopause can be induced by unfortunate incidents. Injuries and surgeries may induce it untimely. The first common cause is pelvic injury.
High energy trauma may be associated with injuries. Others are surgical ovary removal, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy.
Radiation and hormone therapy are usually used in the case of estrogen-receptor-positive tumors.
Symptoms Of Menopause
There is a wide range of menopausal symptoms. The chances of two ladies having the same symptoms are low.
- The most common ones are irregular periods and hot flashes. It is also fairly normal to be drenched in sweat at night.
- There is a fluctuation in usual blood flow making it higher or lower.
- Some women report excessive fatigue, lack of sleep, and even insomnia during this phase.
- Lack of vaginal discharge causes a dry vagina and a lack of lube.
- Obesity and depression are prominent menopausal symptoms.
- Some mild symptoms might include low sex drive and energy.
- Memory also feels the jolt of menopause as the woman reports a loss of retaining power and concentration.
- Increased urine output.
- Small and tender breasts.
- Dry skin, mouth, and hair. It might be due to dehydration. It can be followed up by dandruff.
- The risk of Urinary tract infections ( UTIs) increases as well.
- You might suffer hair loss and hair thinning. Otherwise, excessive body hair might appear on parts like the neck, upper back, and chest. It can also occur simultaneously.
- Few aging signs like pain in joints, stiff mass, inflammation, and reduced bone density are too tag along with menopause.
- Increased heartbeat and frequent headaches are also not out of the blue.
These symptoms can be mild or serious depending on the female. Menopausal women with very short or absent perimenopause are likely to suffer more.
Habits like smoking or health problems like ovarian cancer worsen the symptoms.
Complications Associated With Menopause
It is the thinning, inflammation, and weakening of vaginal walls due to a lack of estrogen. It can further lead to painful sex and urination. It is most commonly observed post-menopause.
Dyspareunia is a condition of pain associated with sex. It is not necessarily due to menopause. However, menopause can be one of its causes. It can be due to vaginal dryness or underlying health issues.
It is the condition where bone becomes weak due to low bone density. It also affects the mass and strength of bones making them prone to fracture.
Hormonal imbalance affects the female psychologically. Mood swings are the most common to be observed in the post-menopause phase for the years to come.
Hormonal fluctuations are also responsible for stimulating inflammation. This may cause a gum infection called periodontitis. Not only this, but it may also reduce jaw bone density, causing loose teeth.
Urine leakage is caused due to weakening of bladder muscles which has been coined Urinary Incontinence. Several factors like childbirth, aging and even postmenopausal changes weaken muscles.
A significant drop in estrogen levels due to menopause affects metabolism. Even loss of bulk slows down the rate at which stored energy is put into work efficiently.
Hormonal changes impact the whole body. Low levels of estrogen lower good cholesterol and increase bad cholesterol. It leads to fat buildup in the arteries.
This may increase the risk of stroke. Also, studies have found that early menopause can increase the risk of heart attack and atrial fibrillation.
The amount of light entering the eye can be regulated by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Changes can lead to blurry vision and eye conditions like cataracts, dry eye, or glaucoma.
Usually, it can be self-diagnosed when you miss your period straight for 12 months, you know it’s menopause. Usually, in the 40-50 age group, most women go through this phase. However, now a test is available to detect menopause.
In case you are suffering from symptoms of menopause and you suspect it, you can get a confirmation by picoAMH Elisa diagnostic test. It can even detect if you are about to enter menopause.
It can help you prepare yourself in advance by taking all the precautions and avoiding health problems. The doctor might take a blood sample to check for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol.
If FSH levels are equal to or higher than 30 miU/mL and you missed your periods for 12 months straight, you test positive for menopause.
OTC Urine tests and saliva tests are others used to detect menopause. However, they are costly and lack accuracy. Other blood tests can also be conducted to detect underlying problems if your doctor suspects so.
These tests may be-
- Blood lipid profile test
- Testosterone test
- Progesterone test
- Prolactin test
- hCG test
- Estradiol test
- Thyroid test
- Liver and kidney function test
Treatment For Menopause
Menopause itself does not need any treatment. Although, in the case of uneasiness or symptoms discussed above you might need medical attention.
Various medications are prescribed by the doctor to deal with a particular problem.
- Sleeping medications are given in case of insomnia.
- Hormone replacement therapy helps deal with several problems in one go. In this medications or combinations containing female hormones are given to deal with vaginal dryness, low bone density, and hot flashes. However, it should be consumed within limits as per prescription.
- Non-hormone medications like antidepressants like paroxetine, nerve drug gabapentin, and blood pressure medication clonidine help deal with hot flashes.
- Selective estrogen receptor modulators reduce dryness and hot flashes due to low estrogen.
- Topical hormone therapy involves a gel or cream put in the vagina to improve lubrication.
- Vitamin D supplements help strengthen bones and treat osteoporosis.
- Prophylactic antibiotics are used to treat UTIs.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are also a cure for hot flashes.
Lifestyle Changes To Make Menopause Easier
Preparing for menopause and taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give yourself in this crucial phase.
Wear loose clothing, preferably cotton clothes to avoid sweat. Cotton always allows the air to pass and eases you. In winter, wear loose woolen in layering to avoid bedtime hot flashes.
Sleep in a cool place, color your bedroom walls with soothing shades if possible, and sleep without a heavy blanket.
Women are at high risk of deficiency in menopause. Right food habits can make things easier. Eating a balanced meal and avoiding processed ones help maintain a healthy weight.
Moreover, it is the master key to dodging health problems. Eat green leafy vegetables, whole grains, probiotic probiotic-rich fruits. Keep yourself hydrated and drink water whenever thirsty.
Adding supplements like vitamin D or multivitamins provide the nutrients you lack in your diet.
Aerobic exercises are great for body weight management. Moreover, they have additional benefits like heart health, better blood circulation, and boosted metabolism.
Weight training is a plus point for muscle strength and endurance. A special one is kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that trouble women in menopause the most.
Take It Easy
While you do your best to deal with menopause, love yourself. Try stress management classes, yoga, and meditation.
Menopause is just another beautiful phase in a woman’s life. However sometimes due to negligence or other health factors, it can become a nightmare.
Taking care, precautions, and treatment right in time keeps you on track. Giving up on bad habits like alcohol and smoking also makes this journey easier.