Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s ageing years that marks the cessation of your periods. This stage is diagnosed when you do not get periods for 12 months in a row. Menopause marks the conclusion of your reproductive years, and you can no longer become pregnant naturally.
This natural phenomenon occurs due to the reduced production of female sex hormones, oestrogen.
This phase of life usually begins when you are in your mid-40s to mid-50s. However, as per https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/, the average age of menopause in Indian women is 46.2 years, which is 51 years in women of the western world.
What Are the Causes of Menopause?
The main reason for menopause is a decline in your reproductive hormones. Once you get to into your late 30s, ovaries start producing lesser amounts of oestrogens and progesterone hormones. These hormones are responsible for maintaining and regulating your menstrual cycle and releasing eggs that are crucial for your fertility and pregnancy.
The erratic hormonal levels may result in menopause symptoms, and when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, its effects in menopause.
Menopause may also be caused due to the following reasons:
- Oophorectomy (removal of ovaries)In the case your ovaries are removed, you do not get periods, and you instantly hit menopause. You begin to experience the symptoms, such as mood swings, hot flashes, low sex drive and other signs of menopause. Some women may suffer from severe menopausal symptoms due to this abrupt removal of ovaries.
- Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)In the case your uterus is removed, you will not get periods, but your menopause is not instant and occurs naturally. Also, your ovaries continue to produce the hormones and release the eggs. Only after the menopause occurs, you start experiencing hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain and other problems.
- Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)
In the case of POI, your ovaries cannot produce oestrogens and progesterone in normal levels and eventually results in menopause. This condition could be a result of genetic disorders, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, autoimmune disease or failure of the follicles.
- Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy Undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy may result in menopause.
Menopause may occur while or after undergoing chemotherapy. At times, chemotherapy does not end your periods.
In radiation therapy, you hit menopause only if the radiations are used on the ovaries and not on any other part of the body.
What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?
Some of the common symptoms of menopause are:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sudden chills
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Loss of sex drive
- Sleep trouble
- Frequent mood changes
- Hair thinning/ changes/ loss
- Increased hair growth on unwanted areas, such as chest, neck, face and upper body
- Weight gain
- Stiff and painful joints
- Bone loss
- Loss of breast fullness
- Difficulty in concentration
- Dry skin
- Weak muscles
When to See a doctor?
According to Mayo Clinic, see your doctor if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding after menopause. Also, keep your medical appointments to rule out any medical concerns.
Menopause increases the risk of certain medication conditions, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High cholesterol levels
- Urinary incontinence
According to the Healthline website, menopause could also lead to other health complications, such as:
- Periodontal disease
- Slower metabolic function
- Vulvovaginal atrophy
What Are the Treatments to Reduce the Symptoms of Menopause?
Menopause does not require any treatment. Anyhow, there are several prescribed and over the counter medications available to swiftly reduce menopause symptoms. Some of the treatments to ease menopause symptoms are:
Hormone/ Oestrogen therapy
Hormone (oestrogen) therapy is an effective treatment for reducing hot flashes and preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women. In this treatment, you will be prescribed lower doses of oestrogen for a limited time to relieve you of the symptoms.
In case your uterus is not removed, you will be prescribed oestrogen doses with progestin.
However, this therapy is not recommended for long term as it can result increase the risk of cardiovascular and breast cancer. Discuss all the advantages, risks and side effects of hormone therapy before starting the course.
Women who are not comfortable with hormonal therapy must openly talk about their apprehensions and discuss alternatives. One of the alternative therapies is taking non-hormonal dietary supplements, such as Femarelle®. Your doctor/ gynaecologist may recommend Femarelle® to instantly reduce the symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe vaginal creams, tablets or rings that can be directly administered into the vagina to alleviate vaginal dryness, pain during sex and UTI problems. The vaginal tissues absorb the small amounts of oestrogen present in these creams/rings/tablets and reduce the discomfort.
Gynaecologists often suggest a low dose of anti-depressants of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) group of drugs to ease mood swings and lessen hot flashes. Women with health concerns can consider this treatment to relieve menopausal symptoms.
Vitamin D & Calcium
Other treatments may include drugs to prevent and reduce bone loss, risk of fractures and risk of osteoporosis. You may be recommended vitamin D and calcium supplements to support and strengthen your bones.
Other tips to relieve the menopause symptoms:
Follow the below tips and lifestyle changes to reduce the minor menopausal symptoms at home:
- Exercising regularly
- Dressing in loose clothes
- Keeping the atmosphere cool
- Managing weight
- Eating a healthy diet – including more vitamins, calcium, carbohydrates, proteins, fibres, minerals and other healthy food groups
- Avoiding alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other addictions
- Waking up and sleeping at the same time daily
- Communicating with your family and friends
- Keeping a positive outlook
- Practising yoga, meditation and other relaxing techniques
Start the new phase of your life on a positive note and enjoy the rest of the years happily and period free!
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