Women – With the power to procreate; this realization is earned full potential only after attaining puberty and beginning of menstruation. Though many girls crib about those irritating three days every month, it is only when they give birth, do they realize the beauty this gift has bestowed. For a girl, every change of phase in life is symptomized by physical as well as psychological changes. Be it puberty, adolescence, womanhood, or old age.
So, if you are a woman in the age group of 45-59 years, you can very well relate to certain changes in yourself like mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, painful intercourse, etc. These changes might also be fueling constant arguments with your partner and family members. What’s worse is the continuous internal frustration and puzzlement faced by you, and not knowing the causal factor for these. Fear not my lady, for these changes mark the onset of the next phase
Less talked upon, generally considered as a story of the old, despite being a very natural biological phenomenon in women, menopause is a phase in a woman’s life when she slowly stops getting her monthly periods. It is the time when the ovaries cease to function and is marked by an absence of a menstrual cycle for around 12 months. In India, the average age for attaining menopause is considerably early, around 47.5 years for a woman with a life expectancy of 71 years after which she even loses her ability to become pregnant.1
Unlike menarche- the onset of menstruation, menopause doesn’t take place overnight and is rather a gradual phase wherein the transition takes place slowly with the menses cycle becoming irregular occurring at longer or shorter intervals than normal. The menstrual flow is either heavy or light along with the occurrence of hot flashes lasting 10 seconds to 30 minutes.
- Vaginal dryness
- Difficulty in sleep and fatigue
- Drastic mood swings
- Fragility, loss of bones, and joint pains
- An increase in bad cholesterol leads to a risk of heart diseases
- Loss of elasticity in vaginal tissues and weight gain
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary tract infections and
- Changes in libido (sex drive)
These changes occur due to a gradual drop in the levels of hormones in a woman’s body, which are estrogen and progesterone, responsible for maintaining the health of reproductive organs.
Menopause Symptoms occurs in the following successive stages
- Perimenopause: This is the transition period when the body of a woman gradually moves towards a stage of complete infertility and is marked by menopausal symptoms.
- Menopause: This phase is marked by the complete absence of the menstrual cycle which also marks the end of the reproductive period.
- Post-menopause: This phase occurs many years post-menopause during which many menopausal symptoms ease and women become subjected to high risk of medical conditions like osteoporosis, heart diseases, etc.
Other factors which can induce early menopause include:
- Premature Ovarian Failure: When a woman’s ovaries stop functioning before 40 years due to medical conditions like autoimmune diseases, diabetes, or any other genetic defects.
- Surgical Menopause: Menses also cease due to surgical removal of ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus.
- Excessive tobacco usage
- Chemotherapy and other radiation therapies
There are no specific reliable tests available for diagnosing menopause. However, your doctor may recommend certain blood tests to determine the levels of the following hormones
|Hormones||Description of Levels|
|Follicle Stimulating Hormone||Increases during menopause|
|Estrogen||Decreases during menopause|
|Thyroid Stimulating Hormone||Decreases due to an underactive thyroid; symptoms similar to menopause occur|
Menopause is a normal part of life and not some disorder or disease; hence it doesn’t require any treatment or medications. Hormone replacement therapies and certain medications, antidepressants, and vaginal lubricants are prescribed if the menopausal symptoms become severe and hinder your daily life. Fertility decreases during menopause but these medications are not contraceptives, hence, a woman can still conceive if proper contraceptive options are not undertaken.
As women, we think we are superhuman’s and try to handle everything which life throws at us with great strides; It is a very subjective experience as it also depends on the cultural society in which a woman resides. There is still not a necessity to go through this phase alone. If you are a man reading this article, understanding your better half can be very challenging during her menopausal phase. Care and support from partners and family can ease a lot of symptoms, mentally as well as physically.
Steps to beat the menopause blues:
- Avoid skipping meals and maintain a healthy diet including ample green and leafy vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes; fruits such as dried plums, etc. to ease the unpleasant menopausal symptoms.
- Give up smoking and moderate alcohol consumption.
- Pump up your iron levels by incorporating protein-rich foods such as lean meat, eggs, etc.
- Drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated, and electrolyte levels in check.
So eat up ladies and exercise well to remain fit and fine as you step into this new phase of womanhood!