Menopause | Symptoms | Premature Menopause | Causes | Treatment | Procedure | Control Menopause | Risks | Medical Consultation | Diagnosis | Food to Avoid
A woman’s body is complicated. The ever-changing hormones and the reproductive system make it tough for a woman to survive without going through hardships that involve severe physical and emotional troubles.
Of all the other complexities that women face due to their reproductive organs, menopause is one of the significant realities that happen between the ages of 40-50. Menopause does not happen overnight or over a short period. It takes a minimum of a year and a maximum of 4-5 years to complete the procedure in which a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs.
Although the menopausal symptoms and its lasting effects depend on a woman’s hormones and lifestyle, they are almost the same for everyone. Also, if the menopausal transition is causing unbearable trouble then it is also possible to treat via detailed medical procedures.
What is Menopause?
Every woman is born with a natural ability to reproduce. The reproductive system of women consists of ovaries, menses, and hormones called estrogen and progesterone. At a certain age, from around 40-55, a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs which lower the hormonal levels.
This causes a delay in menstrual periods, initially for some months and later for almost a year. If the menses do not appear consecutively for 12 months along with evident symptoms, then it is a clear sign of menopause.
Menopausal symptoms usually start occurring after the age of 40. The symptoms may vary from person to person, lifestyle, and eating habits but some common ones happen to almost every woman. If a woman is 40+ and experiencing a delay in periods for months along with these symptoms, then it is most probably the beginning of menopause.
Hot flashes happen when the upper body becomes extremely warm along with sweating. It happens at any time of the day or night but usually occurs during the sleep, regardless of the weather conditions or indoor atmosphere.
Depression is usually quite common in women because of rapidly changing hormones with increasing age. However, depression during menopause is definite when women find it difficult to remain happy and satisfied with the surroundings because of the lowering estrogen and progesterone levels.
Although headache is a common symptom to appear during cold, flu, harsh weather conditions, and other medical reasons, a majority of the women get frequent and long headaches during menopause.
Tiredness usually happens during menses also but continuous fatigue is one of the symptoms of menopause when a woman is 40+ and is not having her periods for some consecutive months.
Women usually experience vaginal dryness after giving birth, during pregnancy, and after periods. However, during menopause, vaginal dryness comes about frequently, stays for a longer time, becomes unbearable and requires the usage of antibiotics, creams, and gels as treatment.
A lot of the young women also experience irregular periods due to reasons like abnormal hormonal changes, breastfeeding, and PCOS, however, if uneven periods occur after 40 along with the other symptoms, then it is an obvious sign of menopause.
Joint and muscle aches
Most women suffer from joint and muscle aches due to lack of calcium, periods, and birthing, etc. and they get extreme and frequent in later years starting from 40 years of age, which is also the time of menopause.
Insomnia does not necessarily happen to all the women during menopause but some women might face it due to other conditions like anxiety and stress.
Premature menopause occurs when there is an ovarian insufficiency or removal of ovaries for some reason. Women of ages 30-35 who do not have periods for 3-4 consecutive months are likely to go through premature menopause if they have had a complicated medical history.
For example, ovarian cancer that demands the removal of ovaries and the process of chemotherapy that badly affects the reproductive system.
Causes of premature menopause
Premature menopause is diagnosed via tests that confirm the levels of estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone. When women start experiencing the symptoms of premature menopause, there is no way that it can be reversed.
Hot flashes, disturbed sleep, extreme mood swings, depression, lowering libido, and anxiety along with a delay in periods for some months make the occurrence of premature menopause obvious.
Some of the causes of premature menopause are mentioned below with brief explanations.
Premature ovarian failure
Premature ovarian causes failure occurs when the ovaries stop producing eggs for some unknown reasons. However, it is not permanent unlike premature menopause and can be treated via medicines and other medical procedures.
This does mean that a doctor purposely induces menopause depending on the patient’s wish or medical condition. Induced menopause is a procedure in which a woman’s ovaries are removed by the doctors for reasons like uterine cancer. Also, radiation from chemotherapy damages the ovaries so badly that it is better to get them removed.
There is no treatment of menopause, rather ways to reduce the severity of harsh symptoms and make them bearable for a specified period. In addition to this, women need to see a specialist for the application of suitable methods for lowering menopausal symptoms as soon as they figure out the cause.
This way the depression and stress are more convenient to manage, otherwise, it gets way too tough for both the patient and the people in surroundings.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
As the name suggests, HRT is a procedure in which a doctor prescribes particular medicines to women going through menopause. These medications are supposed to replace the hormones in a woman’s body that reduce due to a lack of menstrual cycle. Nonetheless, the dose of these medicines should be least as intake of a higher dose might result in heart diseases or cancer.
Topical hormone therapy
It involves the usage of gels, pills, and creams that help treat vaginal dryness. It consists of levels of artificial estrogen that make the menopausal symptoms tolerable when the body is given hormones that it stops producing.
Nonhormone medications are anything that does not particularly consist of hormones or does not mainly serve the purpose of treating hormonal issues. For instance, depression pills are not hormonal medicines yet the functions are very supportive to reduce the severity of the menopausal condition.
In addition to this, vitamin and calcium supplements make bones stronger that get weak in the painful procedure.
Step-by-step menopause procedure
As stated earlier, menopause does not happen in one stroke. It takes years for women to suffer from the naturally painful process and then put a full stop to it. However, even after going through the complete procedure step-by-step, the after-effects remain there for a major part of the remaining life.
The stage of perimenopause stays from the time the ovaries produce less estrogen till the time it completely stops i.e. the end of the reproductive era. The symptoms start appearing from this stage only and get severe in the last 2 years of menopause.
This might sound to be the final time when menopause is in its last stage but this is certainly not the case. Menopause is confirmed when a woman of age 45-51 does not have periods for 12 consecutive months which means that the ovaries are no longer producing eggs, estrogen, and progesterone.
Postmenopause is real and cannot be ignored. The symptoms do decrease but don’t completely go away. Whether it is the hot flashes, sleep issues, or mood swings, women have to suffer a lot even after menopause for the rest of their lives.
Effective ways to control menopausal symptoms
- Wear a maximum of 2 and light layers of clothes to avoid discomfort during hot flashes
- Keep exercising for remaining physically and mentally fit
- Maintain a balanced diet and make sure to not gain weight
- Consult a therapist for the emotional problems
- Regularly take vitamins and other supplements to support weakening bones, joints, and muscles
- Take pills for sleep
- Change in lifestyle like limiting alcohol intake
- Talk about it with close friends and family members
There are two most common health risks related to menopause:
- Heart disease due to the stress and intake of hormonal treatments via pills and injections
- Breast cancer due to rapidly occurring hormonal changes that increase the risk
How important is it to see a doctor for menopause?
Menopause is neither an illness nor just a phase. It is a reality that should not be ignored and treated as a significant part of growing old. Most women believe that seeing a doctor for menopause is of no use and that they will survive the era without professional help.
However, the truth is that consulting a specialist for menopause holds great importance because along with the other physical changes, dealing with the emotional stress and mood swings is equally important. A doctor prescribes medicines to reduce the misery and talking about it also helps in the best ways.
A doctor runs some detailed tests on a woman to diagnose menopause if she is having the common symptoms. Blood tests that measure the level of hormones in the body, saliva tests, and urine tests are some of the methods of diagnosing menopause.
Foods to avoid during menopause
- Spicy foods
- Junk food
- Fast food (less intake)
- Fatty meat (especially beef)
- Less sugar intake
What is the average age a woman stops menstruating?
The average age in the US is 51 when a woman stops menstruating. The symptoms start showing from as early as 40-45, however, it takes around 2-5 years for the complete end of the menstrual cycle.
What causes menopause belly?
The cause of menopause is the rapid change in hormones that allow food fat to store in the abdominal fat cells and often makes the body incapable of burning that fat. However, a moderate amount of healthy food, exercise, yoga, and meditation helps in this regard otherwise, the belly usually remains for the rest of life.
What is the average weight gain during menopause?
Women usually experience weight gain on the abdominal, thigh, and hip areas. During menopause, it gets impossible for a woman to control the weight gain due to the shifting hormones. The average weight gain during menopause is around 10-15 pounds.
What vitamins are good for menopause weight gain?
Vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin E are three of the most important supplements that every woman should have during and after menopause. They help a lot in reducing depression by making up for the lowering hormone levels and keeping the bones stronger.