Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful, Psycho, the seven stages of menopause can be enough to haunt a woman as she makes the transition into the phase of life called Menopause.
Menopause refers to a point in time that follows one year after the complete cessation of menstruation and postmenopause describes years following that point. The average age of women experiencing their final menstrual period is 51.5 years[range between 45-55 years] but a halt to menses from ovarian failure may occur at any age.
Several environmental, genetic, and surgical influences may alter ovarian aging. For example, smoking increases the age of menopause by approximately 2 years. Chemotherapy, pelvic radiation, and ovarian surgery may also lead to earlier menopause. During the menopausal transition, more erratic fluctuations in female reproductive hormones lead to an array of physical and psychological symptoms---these include:
MENSTRUAL PATTERN - shorter cycles/longer cycles/irregular bleeding
VASOMOTOR - hot flushes/night sweats/sleep disturbances
SOMATIC - headache/dizziness/palpitations/breast pain-enlargement/joint aches and back pain
SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION - vaginal dryness/decreased libido/dyspareunia
PSYCHOLOGICAL?COGNITIVE - worsening premenstrual syndrome/depression/irritability/mood swings/poor concentration/poor memory
OTHERS - urinary incontinence/dry itchy skin/weight gain
Common complications of menopause that a woman has to look out for are:
Slower metabolic function
Weaker bones with reduced mass and strength
Mood or sudden emotional changes
Heart or blood vessel disease
It is important to consult a gynecologist if you are facing menopause symptoms affecting your personal or professional life. Some new tests have recently been approved to help determine whether a woman has entered menopause or is getting close to entering menopause. These tests are helpful to women who show symptoms of pre-menopause which can have adverse health impacts. Early menopause can increase the risk of osteoporosis, fracture, heart disease, cognitive changes, vaginal changes and loss of libido, and mood changes.
Thyroid function tests,blood lipid profile,liver and kidney function tests,estradiol,progesterone,testosterone,prolactin.
Treatment is directed to the symptoms. Hormone Replacement Therapy is an effective treatment in women under the age of 60 or within 10 years of the age of menopause. Other alternative medications are also used in directed to specific symptoms.
Some at-home tips to manage menopause symptoms:
Wear loose clothing especially during nighttime.
Carry a portable fan to cool you down when feeling flushed.
Exercise regularly to maintain weight
Communicate your needs --talk to a therapist or psychologist, maintain a good friend and family circle and discuss your feelings of anxiety, mood changes etc.
Supplement diet with calcium, magnesium and Vit D supplements
Practice relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation
Take care of skin and manage sleep issues with OTC sleep medications
Quit smoking and limit alcohol use
Use natural supplements and nutrients like soy, vitamin E, isoflavone, melatonin, flax seeds
With medical advancements, average life expectancy has increased, and most women can now expect to live at least one-third of their lives in menopause. So it is important to address their issues so that they can lead healthy and productive lives.
The aim of hormonal and nonhormonal treatment in menopause is to ensure that the woman doesn’t pause her life activities--in short, me-no-pause should be her motto!
Consultant - Mother & Child Care, Obstetrics & Gynaecology
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