Menopause is the period of time after a woman has experienced 12 consecutive months without menstruation. It is a term that is used to identify the final menstrual period in a woman’s life. Menopause is a normal process of aging and occurs in the late forties and early fifties of a woman. It is a gradual process but it can be sudden due to surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus. It is also the stage in a woman’s life when the function of the ovaries cease and she can no longer become pregnant. This will help you to know more about your post menopause symptoms if you are affected.
The average age of menopause is fifty-one years, but menopause may occur as early as in the thirties or late as in the sixties. There is not a reliable lab test to predict when a woman will experience menopause. It is the time after you have your last period and is confirmed twelve months after your last period. Bleeding or spotting after this point is called postmenopausal bleeding, and if this occurs, you will need to be seen by your doctor and get this checked. The age of onset of menopause does not appear to be affected by race, body size, nutrition, health, or socioeconomic factors.
As menopause approaches, the ovaries gradually stop secreting the female sex hormone estrogen. Estrogen levels decline, and the time between menstrual periods grows longer until they cease altogether. Levels of both female and male sex hormones in t women decline as a result of the menopause, although hormone production does not cease completely.
Causes of menopause
Causes of menopause can be related to internal or external factors. The main internal factor is the hormonal fluctuation. External factors are less common like surgeries and some illness.
Ovaries make hormones estrogen and progesterone which controls menstruation and ovulation. Menopause happens when the ovaries are no longer producing these hormones. It has three main stages, which are perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. This will be mainly focusing on post-menopause.
Most common symptoms you can experience
The most common symptoms that women can experience are vaginal dryness and itching, thin vaginal discharge, weight gain, stress incontinence, urinary tract infection, insomnia, fatigue, depression, joint, and muscle pain.
Decreasing production of estrogen hormone causes vaginal walls to become thin and shrunken in size (atrophy), so the production of lubrication in the vagina becomes much less. This causes the vaginal dryness, which leads to itching, soreness. and painful intercourse. These symptoms can be treated with vaginal lubrication and estrogen rings. Vaginal discharge is also affected by atrophy of vaginal wall muscles because these are glands which produce vaginal discharge. There may be thin and blood-stained vaginal discharge. Sometimes it can be heavy and this should get medical attention as soon as possible.
You can gain weight with menopause
One of the most common noticeable symptoms is weight gain. Many women gain weight with menopause and may also start to carry excess weight in their midsection. This weight gain can increase physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These are all risk factors that can lead to heart attack and stroke. Excess weight can also play a role in some cancers and arthritis.
Women get more stress due to unexpected weight gain without changing their diet or lifestyle. Hormonal changes are the primary cause of weight gain as a response to decreasing estrogen levels, but sometimes depletion of estrogen levels causes stress and depression, and weight can also be a side effect of psychological status.
Loss of bladder control
Among forty percent of post-menopausal women has loss of bladder control with physical activities like sneezing, coughing, laughing or running. For many women, this leaking can begin earlier than menopause, due to pregnancy and childbirth. Estrogen hormone helps to maintain the strength of bladder muscles. With menopause, estrogen levels decrease and the weakening of bladder controlling muscles occur. Simple pelvic exercises (Kegel) can help to improve the pelvic muscles that prevent stress incontinence. Estrogen plays a major role in maintaining the acidity of vaginal fluid, so with the decrease of estrogen, causes bacteria to travel to the urethra (the tube through which urine flows). Fatigue and depression are common symptoms but some women reported that they have gained renewed energy and an overall feeling of well being with menopause.
Other uncommon symptoms
There are also some uncommon symptoms like hot flashes which is a sudden feeling of intense heat that spreads over the upper part of your body. Hot flashes vary from woman to woman. They can be very mild or sudden or can be strong to wake you from your sleep. This is known as (night sweats). Vaginal bleeding also is a rare symptom, but if it occurs that could be an indication of something more serious like a type of cancer.
Your mood can change
You may undergo some emotional reactions to everyday activities during menopause. Research has shown that nearly forty percent of women experience mood swings associated with menopause, such as anger, anxiety, moodiness, or despair.
Having night sweats, sleep loss, and normal hormonal shifts can impact your sex drive. Studies have shown that for many women, a good sex drive before menopause will return.
Prevent bone fractures
When estrogen levels drop, the bones lose calcium and unless women get extra calcium in their diets, their bones will become brittle and weak. This is known as osteoporosis. You will have to get enough calcium before, during, and after menopause to strengthen your bones and prevent bone fractures. It is recommended that women after menopause should aim for 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day.
Menopause has also been tied to a number of other health-related problems such as heart diseases, and high cholesterol levels, and other conditions.
Most of the postmenopause symptoms are due to the depletion of estrogen hormone levels. Once the production of estrogen is over, it affects the physical, mental, and social well-being of women. See your doctor for advice and treatment to cope and live with menopause. Remember it’s a road for all women to follow whether we like it or not. There’s a lot that you can do such as diet, medications, and lifestyle changes to reduce and manage your symptoms.
Delores: My passion is all about Health and Wellness, Wealth, and to help others succeed as well. Looking to start an online Business? Click here to find out more.