Menopause is a natural biological event. As women age, bodies change and one of the most significant changes is menopause or the end of menstruation. This natural transition does not happen overnight, it can take a decade or more and will affect every woman differently. Some women won’t even know it started, while others may feel downright miserable and despite the physical and psychological changes, menopause doesn’t mean end of youth or sexuality. Today women are living healthy, vibrant and a sexually active life well after menopause.
Women mostly face menopause around the age of 45-55. The menopause takes place after the last ovulation and marks the end of the fertile period. The body changes because the ovaries produce less estrogen hormone. These changes can be pretty bothersome. During the period before menopause (perimenopause) women might have physical as well as psychological complaints.
Signs and Symptoms
Physical complaints – Irregular menstrual periods, hot flashes that can last for a few seconds up to minutes, heavy sweating, fatigue, muscle aches, heart palpitations, head aches, dizziness, sore breasts, sensitive skin, dry hair and hair loss, the vagina becomes dryer and the skin also becomes thinner because of dropped female hormones level, besides that ageing, childbirth and lower production of estrogen may cause prolapses, this may cause painful sexual intercourse, loss of libido, urinary incontinence, vaginal discharge, itching, and urinary tract infections.
During such period the body will experience a tough time, which can also cause psychological complaints – for some women it is difficult to accept that they are no longer fertile others include mood swings, fatigue, apathy, a lot of women don’t know that they are at the risk of osteoporosis because of decreased female hormones.
Generally women in the menopausal transition may not need any test but if there is any uncertainty, measuring Estradiol(Estrogen) and FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) in the blood can help to make the diagnosis because estrogen level decreases and FSH level increases in menopause as depicted in the graph above. This can be performed with some self test kits at home or in the lab.
Menopause itself doesn’t need any medical treatment, instead treatment will focus on relieving the symptoms and preventing some other conditions like can develop after menopause.
- Hormone Therapy has received a lot of attention, but women taking hormones were at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer, for some women the benefits still away the risks.
- Low-dose Antidepressants, especially the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) may decrease hot flashes by up to 60% as well as depression.
- Vaginal Estrogen, can relieve vaginal dryness, administered by using a estrogen tablet, ring or cream directly in to the vagina.
- Gabapentin, has shown to help reduce hot flashes.
- For hot flashes, dress in layers and get regular exercise. Many women find that certain things can trigger a hot flash – spicy food, alcohol, hot beverages, hot weather or a warm room. Pay attention to newly experienced hot flashes and try to avoid such triggers that are identified.
- For vaginal discomfort, water-based vaginal lubricants or moisturizers can be used and even staying sexually active helps.
- For sleep disturbances, avoid caffeine after lunch and don’t exercise right before bed. Try breathing relaxation techniques, this may help to calm oneself before bed time.
- For weight gain, exercise routinely and eat healthy.
Advice About Menopause
- Keep the intake of coffee, tea and spicy food to a minimum. These foods may intensify the menopause complaints.
- Consume enough dairy products and make sure that you get sufficient exercise to prevent osteoporosis.
- Eat healthy and varied in order to prevent deficiency of nutrients.
- Make sure you get enough sleep.
- May even include kegel exercises as a part of the regime, this will help to strengthen the pelvic floor.