What is Menopause and What are the Symptoms
Menopause is the time in a woman’s when menstruation ends. Menstruation ends because the woman’s body and her ovaries are producing less hormones. Women as they grow older, start to lose estrogen and progesterone. These hormones contribute with pregnancy.
Menopause predominantly happens with women ages 42 to 56. But the average is around 52. A woman could say that she started menopause when it was already a year since she had her last menstruation.
Before having menopause, women can already feel the build-up in the next few years. This is called the menopausal transition or the perimenopause. But many times, women would refer to the pre-menopausal stage and the menopausal period itself simply as menopause.
Menopause is a natural process the body undergoes as it ages. But induced or surgical menopause can also happen to a woman. In an induced menopause, the woman undergoes menopause suddenly and prematurely.
It can be a result of several factors such as surgical removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy, radiation treatment or ovarian malfunction. Women who experience this tend to have more difficult menopause compared to other women. Women with induced menopause usually receive hormone therapy.
Not all women experience the same symptoms during their menopausal stage. The menopausal experience among women is influenced by genetics, diet, lifestyle and their socio-cultural behavior.
For example, women from the United States suffer more severe symptoms of menopause. Studies and experts have shown that this could be related to the typical American diet which is high in saturated fats and sugars and low childbirth rate. In other countries, Mayan women report no symptoms at all while Japanese women report only a few flashes of pain and some symptoms.
Here are some symptoms that may indicate menopause is starting:
- Irregular periods (menstruation can either have closer dates or further days in between).
- Menstruation flow has changed; it could be lighter or heavier.
- Increase of weight.
- Inability to sleep well or insomnia.
- The vagina is dry and some women may have UTI.
- There are hot flashes of pain in the joints along with fatigue.
- Memory may also be short-termed.
- Upset digestive system.
- Dry eyes.
- Itchy skin.
- Quick mood changes.
Women should be prepared for menopause. Others may take this stage as very challenging while other women may think that this stage is a time for development and another step forward towards personal growth. To prepare for menopause to make it a better experience:
- Learning menopause from books and other resources will help you understand it much better.
- Talk to other women friends who have already gone through menopause. You can also check with support groups which will be willing to help you.
- You can talk to a health care professional about any questions or issues about menopause.
- Have a healthy and nutritious diet and make sure that you are getting enough exercise.
If you are having difficulties in managing your symptoms then there are ways where you can change your lifestyle to lessen menopause symptoms.
- Vitamins and other supplements will help menopausal women in boosting their energy, immune system and help them get better sleep. This would lead to healthier blood circulation and a healthier heart.
- Avoid too much saturated fat and sugar. Make sure to include protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetable to your diet.
- Have more physical action. You can start a daily exercise routine or you can engage in mobile activities to make sure that your bones and tissues can become stronger. At the same time, this would also boost your energy levels.
- Live a stress-free lifestyle. Too much stress will produce hormones that will block the progesterone production in the ovaries. Too much of these hormones could lead to a weakening of the immune system.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Drink clean and pure water everyday.
Hormone replacement therapy can also be done with patients who are having difficulty in dealing with menopausal symptoms. But women who would like to have this treatment should properly discuss this option with their doctors. Recent studies have shown that this treatment may have an impact on the development of breast cancer.
It is currently recommended, that if HT or HRT is to be used, it should be used in the smallest dose possible to prevent any chronic disease to occur.