Being a woman can never be easy. Aside from the important roles women play in society, they also undergo complicated stages in their body: starting from menstrual periods, to pregnancy and menopause.
Among the transitions in a woman’s body, we can say that menopause has the biggest impact on their well being. Menopause is a period of a woman’s life when her ovaries cease the production of ovum which is needed in reproduction. Her body also produces less estrogen and progesterone and gradually ends her menstruation periods.
If a woman missed her period for twelve straight months without other possible causes, then it is safe to say that she is undergoing menopause. It normally occurs between the ages of 45-55 but some experience it a few years earlier or later. There is no way to predict your menopausal stage but research have show that smokers tend to experience menopause earlier than non-smokers.
Menopause is caused by aging and hormonal changes, although some surgeries and medical treatment can induce menopause like bilateral oophorectomy, chemotherapy and pelvic radiation therapy. The number of ovaries a woman produces declines as they age. A reproductive hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FHS) is responsible in the creation of eggs during the first half of menstrual cycle but as menopause approaches, the eggs become resistant to it thus the production of estrogen is also affected.
Menopause does not happen overnight. There is a stage called perimenopause which serves as an interval in which a woman’s body makes a natural shift from more-or-less regular cycles of ovulation and menstruation toward permanent infertility or menopause. When your periods start to become very unpredictable, you may be experiencing perimenopause. Women can still get pregnant during thhis stage since your ovaries are still working, though not as much as before. Once you have gone through twelve consecutive months without menstrual period, you have officially reached menopause and the transition period is over.
Aside from perimenopause, there are other indications that you are undergoing menopause. Most of these indicators are caused by severe hormonal changes. You may experience these symptoms during the whole transition period but some may experience them for the rest of their lives. Here are some of the most common menopause symptoms you must be aware of:
1. Hot Flashes/Hot Flushes
These can be characterized by a sudden sensation of warmth that spreads all over the body creating a ‘redness’ particularly noticeable on the face and upper body. hot flashes are said to be the body’s reaction to a reduction of hormones, specifically estrogen. This may last from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
You can decrease the effect of hot flashes by wearing light, comfortable clothes, exercising regularly, staying away from spicy foods and heat and staying in a place with fan or air-conditioning facilities.
2. Sleep Issues
Medically known as ‘sleep hyperhidrosis’ or night sweats can deprive you of a healthy, good night sleep. This night counterpart of hot flashes are known to be more intense and more unpleasant. Although this may take only for a few minutes, it can interfere in your sleep.
To lessen the effects of night sweats, put a fan or air-condtioning unit in your room, do not use heavy comforters as blankets, wear light, comfortable clothes, place a damp cloth near you to cool yourself quickly when you wake up feeling hot and sweaty and consult your doctor if you are experiencing severe night sweats and your health is getting compensated.
3. Sex Problems
Oestrogen increases the sensitivity and lubrication of the vagina, testosterone gives you desire and motivation in making love and progesterone keeps your hormonal balance and relax energy. These three comprises the sex hormones. During menopause, the production of these hormones drastically declines thus women loses their sex drive. However, with application and support for hormonal balance as well as nutritional support and healthy lifestyle, you may enjoy a healthy sex life even in old age.
Another barrier for a healthy sex life during menopause is vaginal dryness which is caused by low estrogen levels. This makes intercourse uncomfortable and painful since the walls of your vagina becomes thinner and it loses some of its elasticity. Lubricants may help in getting back the moisture of your vagina and may help in having a less painful sex.
Since sex is one of the needs of humans, consult your doctor if sex problems still occurs overtime. Also, safe sex is still encouraged even when you are on menopause.
On Severe Menopausal Symptoms
There are times that you cannot manage these symptoms by yourself. When your symptoms are too severe, gives you a hard time in performing your daily tasks and has threaten you health, you might want to see and talk to your doctor. They could give treatments and advices that could help you deal with those severe symptoms of yours.
Therapies that can Ease Menopausal Symptoms
1. Hormone Replacement Therapy
This was widely recommended in the past to treat menopausal symptoms and even to prevent osteoporosis. However in 2002, doctors have found out that long-term use of this medication can expose you to more health risks like heart disease and breast cancer. That it why doctors advise to take the lowest dose of HRT for the shortest period of time.
2. Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
It is not even a half safer than HRT. FDA said that they are even riskier. BHT is a custom-compounded hormones derived from plants to match each unique patient. Experts in FDA recommend you to take only small doses in a short span of time.
3. Alternative Treatments
Only a few well-designed research was done pertaining to medications that can lessen menopausal symptoms so before taking those alternative treatment you have seen over the internet, seek advice and get the approval of your doctor first.
You need to live a healthy lifestyle even if you are on menopause. In fact, you are on greater health risk during menopause so you have to step up your lifestyle and stay healthy. Schedule regular checkups with your doctor and undergo health tests like measuring your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Be more careful in what you eat, be physically active and stay away from stress. Menopause is a critical stage in your life so make sure that your body does not fail you.
Redefining yourself through Menopause
Being on menopause does not mean you have to stop living your life to the fullest. Think of it as a phase, a new beginning. Welcome it the way you welcome a visitor in your home. It is not something you should be ashamed of, since this is natural to all of women. Think of the perk of being menopause like not having to worry about menstrual periods and menstrual cramps.
Getting older is not something you should dread It is the time when you truly become wise, know what it means to be a woman so be proud of your life and enjoy it to the fullest.
If you have questions and concerns about menopause or want more information and explanations but have no one to go to, try visiting Got Menopause, a women with menopause community, that is devoted to help women like you!