As a woman approaches the age 40s her menstrual cycle dwindles and eventually stops. This is a natural process and the age at which a woman will attain menopause is usually by 40s-50s.
What Is Menopause?
It is the mark of the end of the reproductive life of a woman. Basically, menopause may be defined as the stage of life of a woman when her menstrual cycle stops and she can no longer reproduce.
Menopause is that very moment when a woman stops having her periods. Life after that is considered to be postmenopausal. A woman is said to attain menopause after she hasn’t had her periods for 12 months.
The primary sex organs- ovaries, stop producing the egg and the hormone responsible for menstruation- oestrogen and progesterone, are no longer produced or are may be produced in very small quantities.
Causes Of Menopause
Most important of all- age factor
Women attain menopause after reaching a certain age. However, this age may vary individual to individual and also is also affected by certain lifestyle practices and other internal factors. Menopause is inevitable and will definitely be experienced by women.
Altered hormonal levels:
Due to various factors, the hormones responsible for menses may be produced in varied quantities which may cause menopause. Oestrogen and progesterone when produced in lesser quantities hampers with the lining of the uterus, which is shed during the menses and hence, the woman is not able to have her periods.
Ovaries may be removed as in a case of hysterectomy or due to damage to ovaries due to the chemotherapy or maybe other diseases, due to which there is a change in the level of the hormones and menopause may be caused. If the ovaries are removed the sex hormones produced by them can no longer be produced and menopauses stops.
The lifestyle of people in the present is hectic and often hampers with their health. And in a case of women, their menstruation may become irregular or cease.
Smoking and unhealthy eating habits have been linked to menopause. Smoke from the cigarettes contains tonnes of harmful substances which may cause early onset of menopause in regular smokers.
All functions of a body are under the control of genes. Genes, inherited from parents can be held responsible for the onset of menopause. Genes can alter the regular functioning of any organ, therefore, the functioning of the ovaries may also be arrested by the functioning of genes.
What Are The Symptoms Of Post Menopause?
As soon as a woman’s period ceases, she enters the stage of post menopause. From the moment of menopause till her rest of the life her body experiences post menopause. Not just the arrested release of egg but menopause is characterised by various other symptoms as well.
A sudden feeling of uncomfortable feverish heat is known as a hot flash. The heat felt is sudden and usually confined to the upper parts of the body and the face perhaps preceded or accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and sweating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, headache, weakness, or a feeling of suffocation.
It is considered to be one of the most prominent posts menopause symptoms. Hot flashes may also be caused by hormonal imbalance. The faster one transitions from regular periods to no periods, the more significant the hot flashes may be.
Women approaching post menopause have reported an increase in the frequency of hot flashes. After menopause stabilises the appearance of hot flashes reduce.
A severe hot flash which when accompanied by excessive sweating at night is known as night sweat. It is not to be confused by sweating due to the increased temperature and humidity of the area.
The sweating may be so extensive that the clothes one is wearing may be all drenched and sheets might end being wet as well.
Fluctuation in weight:
Due to great fluctuations of the hormone levels in the body, the metabolism of the body may increase or decrease. Hence the fluctuation in weight is observed. As the weight increase, the rate of fat deposition in the body also increases.
This fat may cause blockage of the blood vessels and may increase the risk of other chronic and fatal diseases. As the changes proceed weight may also be lost. Due to lost weight certain vitamin deficiencies may also be observed.
Vaginal dryness and discharge:
as the levels of oestrogen decrease in the body, the maintenance of the vagina ceases. The vaginal walls shrink and reduce in size in the absence of oestrogen. The dryness causes uncomfortable itching and soreness and other problems.
Vaginal atrophy or shrinking of vaginal walls may also lead to vaginal discharges. Slight and regular discharges have been reported with occasional blood traces. Vaginal bleeding may be also caused as a result of increased friction due to dryness of the tissues of the area.
due to the changes in levels of certain hormones, the schedule of a woman’s sleep is struck really hard. Post menopause may be accompanied by sleepless nights and days.
A woman may not be able to sleep all night or may get a little sleep. Due to sleeplessness,the body may react in a different manner hence, triggering other health issues.
due to decreased oestrogen levels in the blood, the strength of the muscles of urinary bladder decreases and the bladder control is lost during any physical activity. Women experience loss of bladder control not only during vigorous physical activities but also during coughing, sneezing or laughing.
Drastic changes in hormone level in the blood may cause irritation in the hair follicles and hence will eventually lead to hair loss. The thinning of hair is very evident and women loose a great deal of hair over a short period of time post menopause.
What Are The Diseases Related To Post Menopause?
There are certain diseases related to menopause. High blood pressure, osteoporosis and cervical cancer being the most common of all the diseases.
High blood pressure:
Hypertension or chronic blood pressure has been reported in women after their menopause. All the hormonal alterations leave the body sensitive to salt and ion concentrations.
Slight deviations from the regular desirable levels leave them vulnerable to high blood pressure and hypertension. As a matter of fact, hypertension can also be related to deadly heart diseases.
Due to decreased levels of calcium in the body, the bones become brittle and are unable to bear even the slightest of shocks and hence tend to break even under low pressures. All post menopausal women are at the increased risk of osteoporosis.
Ovarian and cervical cancer:
in certain cases post menopause, ovarian (cancer of ovaries) and cervical (cancer of the uterus) have been reported. The chances of cancer increase in women after they reach the menopause.
When Should One Visit The Doctor For Post Menopause?
- Irregular/ delayed periods after the age of late 30s and early 40s
- Heat flashes and night sweats are experienced
- Drastic weight gains or weight loss
- Uncomfortable and sever vaginal dryness followed by vagina atrophy
- Insomnia and hair fall
- Mood swings and mental instability
- Painful intercourse
- Increased cholesterol level and decreased calcium levels in blood
- Hypertension and loss of bladder control
How To Ease Post Menopausal Symptoms?/How To deal With Menopause Symptoms
- First and foremost one should visit a doctor for the cessation of periods after the age of late 30s. A doctor is the best guide for the ultimate lifestyle changes post menopause. All the changes that body undergoes after menopause can be well understood by the doctor and can help one to overcome all the difficulties faced by the woman during this time
- Getting blood tests to be done regularly. Keeping a check on increased or decreased hormonal levels can be helpful in overcoming the problems and getting a clear picture.
- A regular check on blood calcium and cholesterol levels can help curing osteoporosis and heart-related diseases. As a drop in calcium levels lead to osteoporosis, the strength of the bones can be determined with the regular blood checkups.
- Change in lifestyles can get you really far. Opting for a life style that suits you best and keeps the body healthy can help reducing post menopausal symptoms. Getting adequate amount of sleep is advisable. Long working hours are to be avoided. Consumption of alcohol and smoking to be reduced to a healthy level. One should indulge in stress relieving activities.
- Eat healthily: Eating healthy creates a positive impact on one’s body. A diet with the appropriate quantity and quality of fat as per the requirement of the body is suitable. One should opt for green vegetables and fresh fruits over fast food. Fresh fruit salad and green vegetables contain optimum amounts of vitamins and minerals. Red fruits and vegetables like carrots and papaya are the sources of carotene which is the precursor of vitamin A and the citrus fruits are a rich source of vitamin C and minerals like sodium and potassium which are vital for blood pressure can be taken from beans, spinach, lentils etc. Dairy products like milk, cheese, curd etc should be in dominant portions of the diet of the post-menopausal woman to prevent diseases like osteoporosis.
- Light exercise: Yoga and other light cardio exercises can be of utmost help during the stress full period. Deep breathing exercises have been proved to release mental stress and tension and being helpful in hypertension and other heart-related diseases. Meditation can also be helpful to overcome the stressful sleepless nights.
- For premature menopause and post menopause symptoms, a doctor may recommend hormone replace therapy. During this therapy, the patient is administered with the hormones like oestrogen and progesterone and other drugs.
- For vaginal dryness, certain medicated drugs and ointments are prescribed by the doctor. They will help in reducing dryness and ease in itching. Certain other antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor can be helpful in relieving the soreness and itching.
- For heat flashes: Wearing cotton night dresses and using cotton bed sheets can be helpful I case of a hot flash/ night sweats. Sipping in cold chilled water as soon as the heat flash strikes in can also be helpful during a heat flash. Keep an ice pack handy so that it can be used when ever needed.