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What Is Menopause? | Healthcare-Online

What Is Menopause? 

What is menopause? Menopause is when a woman stops having her monthly periods, meaning she is no longer able to have children. Menopause eventually happens to every woman and during this time, they experience physical and mental changes which disrupt their everyday rhythm. Despite this, you don’t have to suffer when undergoing menopause. When you learn about it and how to cope with it, you can stay healthy, happy, and active throughout menopause.

What Is Menopause?

The definition of menopause is when menstrual periods don’t occur for 12 months and is when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning. This is a gradual process which doesn’t occur overnight. Each woman experiences the perimenopausal transition differently. Women can enter menopause anywhere between their 30s and 60s, with the average age being 51 years old. There is no way to reliably predict the age at which menopause occurs and the age she starts menstruating is unrelated. The treatment for menopause is individualized for each woman. 

1. Cause of Menopause

Each woman has a finite amount of eggs at birth and these are stored within the ovaries. The ovaries are also responsible for creating progesterone and estrogen, hormones which control ovulation and menstruation. Menopause occurs when the ovaries are no longer able to release an egg each month, causing menstruation to stop.

2. Factors Affecting the Timing of Menopause

If a woman has her ovaries surgically removed, she will have an induced or surgical menopause, which occurs immediately. This results in the skipping of perimenopause and sometimes menopausal symptoms begin abruptly. If the ovaries are removed with the uterus, the woman won’t menstruate, but will still go through menopause at the normal time.

Certain types of cancer therapies (radiation and/or chemotherapy) may lead to menopause depending on the type of cancer being treated.

About 1% of women experience premature ovarian failure, which is when menopause occurs before age 40. Experts think it may be related to genetic factors or autoimmune diseases.

3. Three Stages of the Natural Menopause

  • PerimenopauseThis starts when the ovaries produce less estrogen, a few years before menopause. The estrogen levels drop more quickly in the final two years and there may be menopausal symptoms.
  • Menopause. This is when a woman hasn’t had her menstrual period in a year and the ovaries have finished releasing eggs as well as producing (most of) the estrogen.
  • Postmenopause. This is the final stage, after menopause, and includes the easing of symptoms in most cases. There are increased health risks, however, as more estrogen is lost.

Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause has many signs and symptoms and by knowing them, you will have a better idea whether you are in perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause so you can be prepared.

Symptoms

Description

Irregular Periods

Your period may become irregular, either lighter or heavier than it normally is, and it might include spotting. It might also shorten or lengthen in duration. Anytime you miss your period, always check for pregnancy and if you are not, you may be starting menopause.

Hot Flashes

These can occur suddenly and feel as if the entire body or upper portion is suddenly warm. Your neck and face can turn red and you may be flushed or sweaty. They can be mild or incredibly strong and typically last 30 seconds to 10 minutes. These usually happen for a year or so after the last period.

Vaginal Discomfort

Vaginal dryness is common due to the decreased progesterone and estrogen. There may also be itching, burning, or stinging and this can lead to painful intercourse. You can use a vaginal moisturizer or water-based lubricant.

Insomnia

It is common to have problems falling and staying asleep during menopause. Try to use breathing and relaxation techniques and avoid bright lights before bed.

Urinary Problems

Sometimes menopausal women will lose bladder control, feel the need to constantly urinate, or have painful urination. This is due to the loss of elasticity within the vaginal tissues and the weakening of pelvic muscles. Stay hydrated and try Kegel exercises.

Loss of Libido

The reduced estrogen can lower libido, delay clitoral reaction time, increase vaginal dryness, and slow the orgasmic response.

Vaginal Atrophy

This is due to the inflammation and thinning of vaginal walls and decreased hormone production. Sexual intercourse becomes painful, but there are prescription and over-the-counter treatments available.

Emotional Instability

Mood swings, depression, and irritability are incredibly common due to changing hormone levels. Remember that these feelings are natural.

Physical Changes

Other physical changes include thinner and drier skin that also loses lubrication and elasticity. The reduced estrogen can also lead to brittle, dry hair or even hair loss. You may also experience weight gain.

Getting Through Menopause Peacefully

Knowing "what is menopause" doesn't mean you can get through it comfortably. Menopause is a difficult but crucial stage. Some women lose their temper; others feel fatigued and see the impact at work, while others get anxious about physical changes. When you properly handle menopause, however, it just a new start in life.

1. Home Remedies 

  • Maintain a healthy diet: You will still need the same nutrients, but less calories. Be sure to get enough vitamin B6 and B12. You will also need to get more calcium and if you have vaginal bleeding, you may need additional iron.
  • Exercise regularly: This will help your mood, heart, and bones. Try to get 2 and a half hours aerobic physical activity (moderate) OR an hour and fifteen minutes vigorous aerobic activity OR some of each as well as strengthening exercise twice each week.
  • Quit smoking: If you smoke, quit as it damages your bones and harms you in other ways.
  • Keep health in check: Always keep caring for your personal gynecological health and be sure you are up to date on immunizations.

2. Medications 

Name

Description

Vaginal Estrogen

This can be a vaginal cream, ring, or suppository to deliver small doses of estrogen. It helps with vaginal dryness, urinary tract issues, and discomfort during intercourse.

Oral Contraceptives

Taking low-dose oral contraceptive during perimenopause can control irregular menstrual periods and relieve hot flashes.

Antidepressants

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can help to reduce mood swings and some low-dose antidepressants also help with hot flashes.

Bisphosphonates

These medications reduce your risk of fractures and bone loss due to osteoporosis, a common complication of menopause.

Watch the following video for more information on "what is menopause" , its symptoms and some useful tips: