Everything You Should Know About Menopause  

Everything You Should Know About Menopause  

Menopause is a series of changes in a woman's body that prevents her from becoming pregnant naturally. It is the absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months in a woman's life. This phase of a woman's sexual life hits between 45-55, but it is relatively transient. Menopause can occur for women

Menopause is a series of changes in a woman's body that prevents her from becoming pregnant naturally. It is the absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months in a woman's life. This phase of a woman's sexual life hits between 45-55, but it is relatively transient. Menopause can occur for women early or late too.   

Menopause can also cause several uncomfortable symptoms such as excessive weight gain and frequent hot flashes. Menopause is a phase that does not need medical treatment usually. 

What is menopause, and how long does it last?  

Most women first experience their menopause symptoms about four years before their last period. Some women can experience menopausal symptoms for up to 10 years before menopause occurs. About 10% of women experience menopausal symptoms for up to 12 years following their last period.  

Many factors help determine when you will begin menopause. Genetics and overall ovary health are a few of the essential elements in this category. Perimenopause is a phase that occurs right before menopause, which is characterized by a gradual change in hormones in preparation for menopause.  

Research says that 1% of women begin with menopause before the age of 40, which is called premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency. About 5% of women also undergo menopause at the age of 40-45, a phenomenon termed as early menopause.  

What are the symptoms of menopause?  

Every woman experiences menopause uniquely and distinctively. The symptoms generally associated with menopause are more severe when menopause occurs suddenly or occurs over a relatively shorter period. The duration or intensity of the symptoms may also increase if there are conditions that impact the ovary's health, like cancer or hysterectomy. These conditions also include individual lifestyle choices like smoking or drinking alcohol.  

Some early and common symptoms of menopause are:  

  • Heavier or lighter periods than what you usually experience  
  • Less frequent menstruation  
  • Vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing   

Some other common symptoms of menopause include:   

  • reduced muscle mass  
  • painful or stiff joints  
  • reduced bone mass  
  • less full breasts  
  • hair thinning or loss  
  • anxiety  
  • difficulty concentrating  
  • memory problems  
  • decreased libido, or sex drive  
  • dry skin, mouth, and eyes  
  • increased urination  
  • sore or tender breasts  
  • headaches  
  • racing heart  
  • urinary tract infections  
  • insomnia  
  • vaginal dryness  
  • weight gain  
  • depression  
  • increased hair growth on other areas of the body, such as the face, neck, chest, and upper back  

Complications associated with menopause  

Several complications are associated with menopause. They are:  

  • cataracts  
  • periodontal disease  
  • urinary incontinence  
  • heart or blood vessel disease  
  • vulvovaginal atrophy  
  • dyspareunia, or painful intercourse  
  • slower metabolic function  
  • osteoporosis, or weaker bones with reduced mass and strength  
  • mood or sudden emotional changes  

Why does menopause occur?  

Menopause is nature's birth control. It is a natural process that occurs as the ovaries in a woman age and begins to restrict the production of reproductive hormones on the body. The output of the following hormones gets delayed during menopause:  

  • testosterone  
  • progesterone  
  • estrogen  
  • luteinizing hormone  
  • follicle-stimulating hormone  

One of the most noticeable changes in menopausal women is the loss of active ovarian follicles. These ovarian follicles are nothing but structures that produce and release reproductive eggs from the ovary wall, which allow for menstruation and fertility in a woman.  

For most women, the first sign of menopause is the reduction in the frequency of their period. Several of these women also notice a change in their flow, which turns out to be heavier or lighter than when they were not menopausal. In the United States, most women by the age of 52 have undergone menopause.

Some causes of menopause include:  

  • pelvic radiation  
  • pelvic injuries that have caused severe damage to the ovaries  
  • bilateral oophorectomy, or surgical removal of the ovaries  
  • ovarian ablation, or the shutdown of ovary function, which may be done by hormone therapy, surgery, or radiotherapy techniques in women with estrogen receptor-positive tumors  

How can menopause be diagnosed?  

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new blood test known as the PicoAMH Elisa diagnostic test. This test can determine whether a woman is either going through menopause or at least approaching it.  

This new test will be incredibly helpful to women who show signs of perimenopause. Early menopause is often associated with a greater risk of osteoporosis, or a reduction in bone density. These can lead to more uncomplicated fractures. Such women are also more susceptible to heart disease, cognitive changes, loss of libido, and vaginal changes. Women also undergo drastic mood changes.  

Depending on your symptoms and your body's reaction to menopause, your healthcare provider may order additional blood tests to rule out any anomalies that may have caused early menopause. Other blood tests that confirm natural menopause include:  

  • blood lipid profile  
  • testosterone, progesterone, prolactin, estradiol, and chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) tests  
  • thyroid function tests  
  • liver function tests   

Treatments for menopause  

Menopause is a perfectly natural change, and it does not usually need professional treatment. However, if your symptoms are very severe and affect your quality of life, there are several treatments available that might help you manage these following symptoms:  

  • hot flashes  
  • night sweats  
  • flushing  
  • vaginal atrophy  
  • osteoporosis 

There also exist medications that specifically deal with problems like hair loss or vaginal dryness that often accompany menopause.   

Some additional medications for alleviating menopause symptoms include:  

  • low-dose estrogen-based vaginal lubricants in the form of a cream, ring, or tablet  
  • ospemifene for vaginal dryness and painful intercourse  
  • prophylactic antibiotics for recurrent UTIs  
  • sleep medications for insomnia  
  • denosumab, teriparatide, raloxifene, or calcitonin for postmenstrual osteoporosis  
  • topical minoxidil 5 percent, used once daily for hair thinning and loss  
  • anti-dandruff shampoos, commonly ketoconazole 2 percent and zinc pyrithione 1 percent, used for hair loss  
  • eflornithine hydrochloride topical cream for unwanted hair growth  
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly paroxetine 7.5 milligrams for hot flashes, anxiety, and depression  
  • nonhormonal vaginal moisturizers and lubricants 

Lifestyle changes and home remedies to alleviate menopause symptoms  

There are ways to treat some symptoms of menopause without pharmaceuticals or medical and professional help. Here are some tips that will help recognize these mild to moderate symptoms and treat them at home, all by yourself. Some lifestyle changes are also necessary for women to manage symptoms that are commonly associated with menopause.  

Incorporating more exercise into your daily schedule  

Reducing your daily caloric intake by 400 to 600 calories might help with your weight. It is also important to exercise moderately for 20 to 30 minutes daily for optimal blood circulation and fat loss. Regular exercise and reduction in calories might help with:  

  • improving mood  
  • promoting feelings of well-being  
  • increasing energy  
  • getting a good night's sleep  

Adding necessary supplements to your diet  

Magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D supplements reduce your risk for osteoporosis and improve energy levels. It is encouraged that you talk to your doctor or medical healthcare provider before starting to take supplements.  

Taking good care of your skin  

Using sunscreen and moisturizers might help with the reduction of dryness from your skin. You should avoid taking long baths, hot showers, or swimming for too long as these are very dehydrating activities and might leave your skin feeling sore and raw.  

Quitting bad habits  

If you smoke, you should stop immediately. Aside from the obvious health concerns that smoking raises, exposure to active or passive smoke might aggravate menopause symptoms. You should also limit your alcohol intake because heavy drinking only increases the risk of health concerns.  

Managing sleep  

Sleep is essential to feel rested and energetic throughout the day. It also gives your body the chance to repair old tissues, generate new cells, and prepare itself better for the coming physical and hormonal changes.   

Other remedies  

Some natural and helpful supplements include:   

  • soy  
  • vitamin E  
  • isoflavone  
  • melatonin  
  • flax seed   

Conclusion  

Menopause is generally a natural process that should not require any medical treatment. However, if your symptoms are degrading your quality of life or interfering with your daily life, work, or social circle, you must seek professional help. Treatments like hormonal therapy have been beneficial for women going through the same thing you are.  However, menopausal symptoms can be treated with safe, natural remedies, and simple lifestyle changes.  

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