What You Need To Know About Menopause
The subject of menopause can be confusing, so here are the most important things you need to know about it.
What is menopause?
That may seem like an obvious question, but it’s not only something that can happen with age, but can also be brought on surgically with a hysterectomy for instance.
Menopause is defined as having no menstrual period for one year and the age you experience it can vary, but it typically occurs in your late 40s or early 50s.
Menopause is also the term that can be applied to women who are actually not in Menopause proper, but in perimenopause when changes can first start to occur.
Menopause can cause many changes in your body. The symptoms are the result of a decreased production of oestrogen and progesterone in your ovaries. Symptoms may include hot flushes, weight gain, or vaginal dryness.
Vaginal atrophy contributes to vagina dryness and with this, there can be inflammation and thinning of the vaginal tissues which adds to uncomfortable intercourse.
Menopause can also increase your risk for certain conditions like osteoporosis, heart disease, strokes and conditions related to weight gain such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
These are the most frequently asked questions about Menopause.
1. What age will I be when I go through menopause?
The average age for onset of menopause is 51. The majority of women stop having periods somewhere between ages 45 to 55. The beginning stages of declining ovary function can start years before that in some women. Others will continue to have menstrual periods into their late 50s.
The age of menopause is thought to be genetically determined, but things such as smoking or chemotherapy can accelerate ovary decline, resulting in earlier menopause.
2. What’s the difference between perimenopause and menopause?
Perimenopause refers to the period of time right before menopause begins.
During perimenopause, your body is beginning the transition into menopause. That means that hormone production from your ovaries is beginning to decline.
You may begin to experience some symptoms commonly associated with menopause, like hot flushes. Your menstrual cycle may become irregular, but it won’t cease during the perimenopause stage.
Once you completely stop having a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months, you’ve entered menopause.
3. What symptoms are caused by the reduced levels of hormones in my body?
About 75 percent of women experience hot flushes during menopause, making them the most common symptom experienced by menopausal women. They can occur during the day or at night, with night sweats being very common.
Some women may also experience muscle and joint pain, and/or mood swings.
It may be difficult to determine whether these symptoms are caused by shifts in your hormones, life circumstances, or the aging process itself.
4. When do I know that I’m having a hot flush?
It is you’ll likely feel your body temperature rise and they usually affect the top half of your body, and your skin may turn red in colour or become blotchy.
This rush of heat could lead to sweating, heart palpitations, and feelings of dizziness. and afterwards you may feel cold.
They may come on daily or even multiple times a day and you may experience them over the course of a year or even several years.
Avoiding triggers may reduce the number you experience and these can include:
– consuming alcohol or caffeine
– eating spicy food
– feeling stressed
– being somewhere hot
– being overweight and smoking may also make hot flushes worse.
5. How does menopause affect my bone health?
A concern at Menopause is bone density reduction and two hormones are needed to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Oestrogen helps clear away old bone, and progesterone is what builds new bone so you need to have these two hormones in balance.
Many women experience accelerated bone loss the first few years after their last menstrual period.
6. Is heart disease linked to menopause?
Conditions related to your heart may arise during menopause, such as dizziness or cardiac palpitations.
Watching your weight, eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising, and not smoking can reduce your chances of developing heart conditions.
having good progesterone levels is also helpful as this hormone protects your heart.
7. Will I gain weight when I experience menopause?
this is certainly the number one thing that most women notice, and changes in your hormone levels may cause you to gain weight, particularly an excess of oestrogen.
However, aging can also contribute to weight gain.
Focus on maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and practicing other healthy habits to help control your weight. Being overweight can increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
8. Will I experience the same symptoms as my mother, sister, or friends?
The symptoms of menopause vary from one woman to another, even in the same families, and even the severity of symptoms can be different.
The age and rate of decline of ovary function differ tremendously which means you’ll need to manage your menopause individually. What worked for your mother or best friend may not work for you.
9. How will I know if I’m going through menopause if I’ve had a hysterectomy?
If your uterus was surgically removed through a hysterectomy, you may not know you’re going through menopause unless you experience hot flushes or have other symptoms, but it does seem to be common to see changes.
This can also happen if you’ve had an endometrial ablation and your ovaries weren’t removed. Endometrial ablation is the removal of the lining of your uterus as treatment for heavy menstruation..
10. Is hormone replacement a safe option for management of menopausal problems?
There is no one solution that works for everyone, and certainly a large number of women discover that HRT is not suitable and is associated with health risks.
Also many women are discovering that doctors are more reluctant to prescribe HRT and so turning to other medication such as antidepressants as an alternative.
11. Are there other options for the management of menopausal symptoms?
Hormone therapy may not be the right choice for you and some medical conditions may prevent you from safely being able to use hormone therapy, particularly if you have a risk for hormonal cancers or a family history of breast cancer.
There certainly are other available options from herbal combinations that have been in use for centuries to help with menopausal symptoms, to the use of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, homoeopathy and relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and meditation.
for many women, a more natural approach is affective and this has seen the development of bioidentical hormones usage over the last 50 years which can help replace the declining hormones.