Menopause is that time in a woman’s life when menstrual periods have stopped for at least a year. We often call it a change of life. Menopause is not an illness.
During this period, periods become irregular and stop because the ovaries stop producing hormones, and so, hormone levels change. Hormones are chemicals in the body that control specific body functions. A hormone, like an estrogen in women, helps control the menstrual cycle, but as a woman ages, the amount of this hormone decreases.
Menopause is usually at 50 or 51 years in most women, however, in some women, this may come earlier, that is, 40+ or later, that is 55+
Hot flashes (feeling warmth in the face) and end of periods are the most common symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes range from being mild to severe. They usually last a few minutes.
Women experiencing hot flashes at night tend to feel very tired during the day because of disturbance with sleep.
Other symptoms are vaginal dryness, vaginal sensitivity, pain during intercourse, bladder control problems, weight gains, loss of sex drive, and mood swings.
Menopause is occurring if a woman experiences the end of periods and hot flashes for about six months. The health care providers can check the body hormones – luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. They intend to assess whether the ovaries are slowing down or no longer working.
It is unnecessary to treat mild symptoms of menopause. Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) is the most effective treatment for severe symptoms.
In women with a uterus, progesterone, and estrogen, whereas those without a uterus do not take progesterone. Estrogen relieves symptoms of menopause; progesterone helps reduce the risk of uterine cancer while taking estrogen.
HRT should be given on an individual basis and using the lowest effective dose since hormonal replacement therapy may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse can be relieved using vaginal creams or water-based lubricants.
Grab a copy of the Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor for more of these topics here.
It is paramount to eat healthy, low-fat and low-carbohydrate foods and exercise during menopause because of a tendency for metabolism to slow down, with decreasing muscle mass and increasing body fat percentage.
Exercise will help you burn calories and keep up bone strength and muscle mass, as well as increasing the body’s metabolism. These can be Kegel exercises that help improve bladder control if you have problems with it.
Don’t take caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and spicy foods. Spicy foods can worsen hot flashes.
In a nutshell, menopause is not an illness – don’t treat it like one.
Read this article: Menstruation: The Salient basics.