Menopause Symptoms and Ways to Ease Them
Menopause is an unavoidable stage in every woman’s life that brings a lot of unexpected and unpleasant changes. Some women get depressed when menopause comes, while others get scared of even coming of that period. Actually, menopause isn’t an event that happens over a night, it’s a gradual process that may last for 10-15 years. Let’s see what are the symptoms of menopause, how to determine that it started and are there effective ways that can help to ease the symptoms.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the transition period leading to when a woman completely stops receiving her menses as a result of aging. It is brought about by a change in the balance of the body’s female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Usually, this occurs between the ages of 40-55 but varies from person to person. It’s good to note that premature menopause occurs before the age of 40 and has no known causes.
Menopause means that the woman cannot get pregnant naturally since the ovaries have slowed down, and she is no longer making eggs. The only way to get pregnant after menopause is by using donor eggs. Menopause lasts between 4 and 5 years after the onset.
What is Perimenopause?
The meaning of perimenopause is “around menopause,” and it is the duration before you actually hit menopause. This can be 8-10 years before menopause when a woman is in her 30s and 40s. One of the signs accompanying perimenopause includes irregular menses. Similarly, estrogen levels are uneven, whereby they go up and down. The woman may also experience shorter or longer menses. A woman may have no menses for several months and then again has. One consecutive year of no menstrual period signifies the end of the perimenopause and the start of menopause.
It is impossible to predict or identify at what age woman can experience menopause. Also, the age when a woman starts having menstrual cycle isn’t related to the age when she reaches menopause. However, there is a high probability that menopause may start at the age similar to that of her mother.
What are the common signs and symptoms of menopause?
Let’s dive in below and learn the menopause symptoms and ways to ease them.
Changes in mood
Reduction in the hormones estrogen and progesterone during menopause makes a woman feel the same way as she felt during her menstruation. She may feel anxious, tired, sad, irritable, and aggressive, among others. Due to fluctuations in hormones a woman can feel anxiety or temper without any serious reasons for it. In case of severe depression, it is better to consult with psychotherapist. Antidepressant medication also can be helpful, but don’t expect immediate results. In order to see the full effect of the treatment you may need several weeks.
This is the most common sign of menopause, with 80% of women experiencing it. It causes sudden feverish heat, flushing, and sometimes even sweating on the neck, face, and chest. Hot flashes may last from 30 seconds up to several minutes and can be accompanied with flushes and sweating.
The exact reason for hot flashes is still unknown, but scientists associate this situation with the decline in estrogen level. Usually women can experience hot flashes about 5 years and very rarely it may continue up to 10 years.
Night sweats are indicated by heavy sweating at night, and they are hot flashes happening at night. The symptoms are the same as for the hot flash, but a cold chill follows the night sweat. This will definitely create difficulties in sleeping and lead to improper sleeping regime and daytime tiredness.
Production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are upset, and they, in turn, affect ovulation. Therefore, the regularity and duration of menstrual periods become inconsistent. Sometimes menstrual cycle duration shortens and sometimes the cycle lengthens. There is no one pattern that women can experience during perimenopause period; it varies from woman to woman. If menstrual bleeding occurs after 6 or 7 seven months absence, it means that you still haven’t reached menopause. Menopause comes when periods are absent for 12 months, till that time you may get pregnant. And if you don’t want to get pregnant you must use contraception.
This is also known as vaginal atrophy and is caused by shrinking of the vaginal muscles making the vagina easier to become wounded. Low levels of estrogen also mean less lubrication to the walls hence dryness. Moreover, symptoms may include itchiness and pain. Unfortunately, vagina dryness increases the risk of vaginal infection diseases.
The North American Menopause Society defines urinary incontinence as an urgent and involuntary loss of urine. It creates many inconveniences to a woman, especially in public places. Low estrogen level makes vaginal tissues less elastic and dry increasing the risk getting infection through urinary system. Urinary incontinence usually happens while laughing or coughing.
Change in libido
As secretion of the sex hormone estrogen diminishes during menopause, the sex drive also goes down. This is as a result of the reduction of estrogen that controls the body during sex.
Loss of hair is caused by hormonal imbalance as the hormones estrogen and progesterone that control hair growth diminish. This leads to thinning of hair as well as stunted growth. What is worse, some women experience hair growth in other parts of the body like chin, upper lip or tummy. This happens because body continues to produce male hormone testosterone as before, although estrogen level lowers.
Change in weight
The role of estrogen hormone is significant in normal function of the body. Another function of estrogen is to help control body weight. With reduced production of this hormone during menopause, the rate of metabolism slows down as well, leading to an increase in weight.
Ways to ease menopause symptoms
Some women start panicking when menopause occurs. There is no need to be mad, menopause is a normal part of any woman’s life and not a disease. Being aware of menopause symptoms and ways to ease them will make this transition period in your life more bearable. Below are ways to alleviate the symptoms.
In the worst-case scenario, hormone therapy should be considered. This is if the symptoms of menopause drastically affect your life. Hormone therapy involves medication and sometimes surgery to replace the hormones that the body ceases producing during menopause.
Hormone therapy is very effective in easing symptoms related to estrogen level decrease, such as hot flashes, vagina dryness or libido decline. Therapy includes estrogen hormone or the combination of estrogen and progesterone. Although hormone therapy is the most effective way, it still has side effects. Scientists identified that in postmenopausal period the risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and heart diseases increase for those who received the therapy. Every organism is unique, so let the doctor to chose you the right therapy and in the right dose.
Relaxation and exercise-mood swings
Relaxation will help you alleviate symptoms of menopause like mood swings. Exercise, on the other hand, will help you keep fit, lose extra weight, strengthen your weakening bones, and lift your mood. Exercise, relaxation and fresh air are the best solution for your sleeping trouble. Remember, your mind, soul and body are interconnected. If you do more exercise, you will have less time to think about negative sides of menopause. The less you think about negative things, the less you get stressed, and in turn, the healthier you are.
Lubricants and moisturizers
Vaginal dryness and sexual dysfunction may create discomfort to you and your partner. To improve the situation, try vaginal lubricants and moisturizers. These products moisture the vagina, decrease dryness and itchiness. According to the North American Menopause Society it is better to use water-based products, as oil-based products may actually increase irritation.
The right diet for the body at all times is a balanced one, and it’s the same during menopause. You should adhere to a balanced diet and ensure you eat your fruits and vegetables, plenty of calcium vitamin D for your bones as well as plenty of water. In addition, increase the consumption of dairy products that are rich in calcium. During menopause many women complain about osteoporosis as bones become weaker. Refrain from eating and drinking products that are in sugar, acid and caffeine. This will help you to improve urinary incontinence.
There is a significant weight gain during menopause as your body ages and genetic factors set in. It’s, therefore, essential to keep an appropriate weight for your body. This will protect you from lifestyle and slow age-related deterioration.
Menopause is a natural ageing process in women, and its not a scaring process. The most important thing is to acknowledge the menopause symptoms and ways to ease them to give you an upper hand. In case menopause turns your life upside down, seek medical advice.