Menopause is the phase in a woman’s life when the production of the estrogen hormone falls to very low levels permanently. During this time the ovaries stop producing eggs, and the regular menstrual cycle of the woman stop forever. Menopause occurs naturally in most women, with approaching age between the age group of 35 to 60. Medically a woman is in menopause when she misses her regular periods for over a year and there is no other biological or physiological cause evident for it.
Why does menstruation stop?
Menstruation is directly connected to the production of the female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) by the ovaries. During the pre-menopausal years, generally between ages 40 and 50, the ovaries gradually reduce production and secretion of these two hormones. By the end of this 5 to 10 year period, ovarian function — as well as menstruation — has stopped altogether. After being menstruation free for 12 months, a woman is considered menopausal.
Menopause is a natural phenomenon, almost a “rite of passage”, for women. Although approximately 10% of women experience no symptoms, most experience one or more of a multitude of symptoms directly related to the loss of estrogen and progesterone. These effects are often described as short, mid and long term.
Short Term Menopausal Effects
- Hot Flashes (also known as hot flushes or night sweats): About 75% of menopausal women will experience hot flashes, most for about a year, some for longer than five. Hot Flashes occur when blood vessels expand and blood comes to the body surface, giving a sensation of warmth. Body temperature rises, the heart races, and sweat pours from the skin; but blood pressure doesn’t rise. It is not dangerous, but it is a nuisance.
- Psychological Symptoms: These include mood changes, irritability, sleep disturbances and depression. It is felt that the night sweats cause the sleep problems, which cause the irritability, mood changes and later, depression. Resolve the hot flashes and resolve most of the others, too.
Remedies for Hot Flashes
- A nice cold drink at the first sign of flush. Carry a hand fan to use as an instant cooler. Take a cool shower at bedtime. Wear cotton nightwear, use cotton sheets — they ‘breath’ and allow perspiration to escape. Dressin layers so you can remove clothing when needed.
- Avoid triggers — tense situations, vigorous exercise, sun tanning, spicy foods, alcohol.
Mid Term Menopausal Effects
Mid Term symptoms occur from a few months to a year after menopause begins and are generally more serious than the initial, short terms symptoms. They include:
- Vaginal Dryness. Sexual intercourse becomes difficult and painful.
- Bladder irritation.Increased likelihood of urinary tract infections and stress incontinence.
- Wrinkles.Skin becomes less elastic and springy.
- Aches and pains.Mostly in the joints.
Long Term Menopausal Effects
The following Long Term symptoms tend to show up many years after the onset of menopause. They also tend to be the most serious, and the hardest to treat; however they may be preventable.
- Osteoporosis: Bones become porous quite quickly after menopause and by 80 years of age, the average female will have lost 47% of her bone mass. By comparison, at the same age, men will have only lost about 14% of their bone mass. It’s no wonder that 85% of hip fractures occur in post-menopausal women!
- Heart Disease: Prior to menopause, women are at significantly less risk of having a heart attack or stroke than men, which is believed to be due to high estrogen levels in pre-menopausal women. After menopause, estrogen levels decrease and the risk of heart problems increases dramatically for women, catching up to, an even overtaking, the risk for men.
Theories of Treatment
There are three different theories that inform the treatment of menopause: 1. It is a natural phenomenon, therefore leave it alone and let it run its course. 2. Treat each symptom separately, if and when, they occur. 3. The problems are caused by loss of estrogen and progesterone; therefore treat by replacing those hormones — Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
We believe that Bio-identical hormones are an excellent solution for menopause related issues. Please click here to learn more about hormone therapy.
In most women menopause heralds the end of fertility period, after which a woman cannot conceive a child. Natural menopause is said to occur when the ovaries start decreasing their production of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone on a permanent basis.
Hormonal changes cause the physical symptoms of menopause, but mistaken beliefs about the menopausal transition are partly to blame for the emotional ones. First, menopause doesn’t mean the end is near — you’ve still got as much as half your life to go. Second, menopause will not snuff out your femininity and sexuality. In fact, you may be one of the many women who find it liberating to stop worrying about pregnancy and periods.
Most important, even though menopause is not an illness, you shouldn’t hesitate to get treatment if you’re having severe symptoms. There are conventional treatments and holistic treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.