Menopause is a biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. This natural process occurs when women reach their late 40s or 50s and is usually accompanied by various side effects that many women dread.
Causes and Symptoms of Menopause
In most women, menopause occurs as part of the natural aging process, but there can be other causes too. The main causes include:
The most common cause of menopause is the natural decline in the functioning of a woman’s reproductive system and it usually occurs as women near their 50s. It could be later or earlier depending on genetic and health factors.
Though the surgical removal of the uterus does not directly cause menopause, it may lead to an early onset because the surgery can impact the ovaries.
This is the surgical removal of both ovaries and could cause immediate and complete menopause. This kind of menopause is called surgical menopause.
Radiation and chemotherapy
These cancer treatments are known to induce menopause in some women. Even though the onset may not be as sudden as an oophorectomy, a risk is definitely present.
The most commonly seen symptoms of menopause include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Troubled sleep
- Trouble focusing on daily activities
- Mood swings
Physical Side Effects of Menopause
- Muscular pain
- Joint and back pain
- Osteoporosis and osteopenia
- Risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Urinary incontinence
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Reduced libido
Psychological Side Effects of Menopause
- Depression and anxiety
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
Menopause can be a long-drawn process that is divided into three phases:
The pre-menopausal stage occurs just before the onset of menopause and is characterized by significant changes in hormone levels. It can start up to a few years before menopause hits.
This stage usually refers to the time when the body undergoes significant biological transformations, from feeling hot flashes and mood swings to finally experiencing the last menstrual cycle ever.
The phase that begins at least a year after a woman’s last period is classified as the post-menopausal phase. In women without a uterus, post-menopause is determined by testing for levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
Managing Menopause Like a Pro
Menopause defines an important stage in a woman’s life where she undergoes hormonal changes and its effects vary from person to person. Its symptoms, however, may be managed with:
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
An external supply of estrogen and progesterone is given as the body no longer produces these hormones naturally. Women who have had hysterectomies usually get only estrogen replacement. This therapy comes with some side effects and risks and is usually administered in a controlled manner.
A low dose of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed to manage psychological problems that occur during menopause. They may also help with hot flashes. These drugs may be given to women who cannot undergo HRT.
Menopausal women may also benefit from alternative treatment strategies like:
Naturally occurring foods like soy, flaxseeds and legumes that contain phytoestrogens may help replace the hormones that the body no longer produces.
Acupuncture and acupressure
These may be beneficial in reducing symptoms like sleeplessness, mood swings and hot flashes.
Since many of the symptoms are temporary, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough to manage them. Focus on these tips to make menopause slightly more manageable:
Women complain of sleep deprivation during and after menopause. It might help to make small lifestyle changes; for instance, avoiding caffeine and alcohol later in the day and exercising every day to enhance sleep.
Dietary changes may help handle certain symptoms because experts say that caffeine, spicy food and alcohol could trigger hot flashes. Excluding these foods and adding more fresh fruits and vegetables and the right supplements may be beneficial.
Pelvic floor exercises
Women who suffer from urinary incontinence may benefit from practicing exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor.
Regular exercise is good, whether you are menopausal or not. But because menopause usually increases a woman’s risk of bone damage, bone loss and heart problems, it is recommended to incorporate appropriate exercises to your daily routine.
Menopause marks a crucial phase in a woman’s life and with proper awareness and resources, women might be able to overcome their dread of menopause and continue leading a happy, healthy life during and after the post-menopause phase.
The content of this Website is for informational purposes only, is general in nature and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and does not constitute professional advice. The information on this Website should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program and/or any of the beauty treatments.
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Regidor, P. A. (2014, November). Progesterone in Peri- and Postmenopause: A Review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25484373
Rizzoli, R., Bischoff-Ferrari, H., Dawson-Hughes, B., & Weaver, C. (2014, November). Nutrition and bone health in women after the menopause. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25482487