As you age, your body undergoes a change. As a result, it affects the production of hormones in a woman’s body. Menopause is an unavoidable condition that describes changes in a woman’s body after she stops menstruating. It marks the end of a woman’s reproductive period and menstrual cycle and is often accompanied by a range of anxiety and distress symptoms. The average age of menopause is 51 years, though some women may experience menopause symptoms in their 40s or 50s. Here is your complete guide to menopause.
A Guide to Menopause: Symptoms
Menopause is that stage of life that marks the permanent end of your menstrual cycles. This may lead to hormone fluctuations, tiredness, mood swings, hot flashes, and other menopause symptoms that may affect the quality of your life. Perhaps menopause is much more than the end of your menstrual cycle.
Some of the common signs of menopause include:
- Mood changes
- Night sweats
- Hot flushes
- Thinning hair
- Racing heart or palpitations
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleeping problems
- Libido or low sex drive
- Dry skin
- Frequent headaches
- Weight gain
- Lack of concentration/loss of memory
- Bladder control problems
Symptoms may begin months or years before the menstrual cycle stops. This is the perimenopause phase. Once your menstrual period cycle stops permanently, this stage is menopause. Menopause symptoms may last four years after the end of your menstrual period cycle, although a few women may experience them for a longer period. When the menopause ends, the stage is known as postmenopause.
Menopause occurs when a woman’s ovaries limit the production of estrogen and stop releasing an egg each month. When a woman turns 50-55 years, her monthly cycle comes to an end, so there are no more periods, ovulations, or pregnancies. When a woman reaches this stage, it is known as the menopause.
A Guide to Menopause: A Little About Estrogen
Estrogen is the hormone responsible for controlling the reproductive cycle of a woman. It stimulates female characteristics at puberty. The hormone controls the development and release of an egg, which is naturally implanted in the uterus. The uterus lining builds up to accept a fertilized egg. However, when no implantation takes place, the uterus lining is shed, resulting in the monthly period.
What Does Estrogen Deficiency Mean for a Woman’s Body
The low production of estrogen can affect different parts of the body, which may include the skin and the brain. When the ovaries cease the production of estrogen, it may have a long-term effect on the health. These changes primarily affect the bone density, which poses a high risk of osteoporosis. A woman’s skeleton depends on estrogen to support the bone strength and make it resistant to fracture.
Some research reports indicate that the estrogen deficiency may further lead to some chemical changes, which make menopausal women vulnerable to heart disease and stroke.
A Guide to Menopause: Dos To Stay Healthy
You may need to make some lifestyle changes in order to stay healthy after menopause. With a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the signs of menopause and keep your bones strong and heart healthy.
- Change Your Diet: A healthy diet, which is low in saturated fat and rich in fiber, is essential to keeping your heart healthy after menopause. Eat a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium. This is necessary to support and strengthen your bones.
- Stay active: Anxiety is a common menopause symptom. However, you can overcome the signs of stress and anxiety by staying active physically. If you stay active, you can reduce your risk of heart disease. According to a 2015 study, moderate to high-intensity exercise may boost energy levels in postmenopausal women.This can further help improve the quality of sleep in women, who often suffer from insomnia during and after menopause.
- Take a meditation break: Stress and anxiety are some of the most common symptoms of menopause. Stress can sap your energy and make you feel lethargic. However, you can beat the symptoms by taking time out for meditation. Choose a silent corner in your home or garden. Slowly breathe in and out with your eyes closed. You will experience a boost in your energy, clearing your mind of negative thoughts.
- Develop a good sleeping regimen: Follow a sleeping routine so that your body is tuned to sleep and wake up on time. Avoid the intake of caffeinated beverages after evening time, which can interrupt sleep and cause heartburn. Take a shower before bedtime so that your body and mind are in a relaxed state when you hit the bed.
- Take phytoestrogens: Since the lack of estrogen triggers the menopause symptoms, changing your diet to include phytoestrogens or substances that may supply some form of artificial estrogen may help release your symptoms. Consult with your doctor before starting on any new dietary regimen with a focus on phytoestrogens.
Other therapies that can help ease some of your signs of menopause may include herbal treatments, aromatherapy, yoga, and reflexology.
Don’ts To Stay Active
- Quit smoking: You may be surprised to know that smoking may trigger hot flushes. A woman who smokes regularly faces a high risk of developing coronary heart disease. The risk of osteoporosis also increases in such women after menopause.
- Cut down on your alcohol use: When you are fighting signs of menopause, the combination of hormonal imbalance and excessive alcohol consumption can make things worse. Alcohol increases the risk of hot flushes. Additionally, it is linked with a high risk of breast cancer. Quit alcohol for your better health.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
It is a method to replace the hormone estrogen. HRT is effective in reducing the most common signs of menopause visible due to reduced estrogen levels, such as hot flashes, mood disorders, and sleep disturbance. However, HRT side effects may lead to a few risks and side effects. Studies are underway to find whether hormone replacement therapy raises the risk of breast cancer.