Menopause is the term that describes the ending of a woman’s menstrual cycle. After a 12-month time without a menstrual period, it’s identified. Menopause may occur in your 40s or 50s, but the ordinary age in the United States is 51.
Menopause is a natural biological process. However, the physical and emotional signs of menopause, such as hot flashes, can interrupt your sleep, decrease your energy, and affect your mental wellbeing. Numerous effective treatments are available, varying from lifestyle changes to hormone therapy.
Symptoms of Menopause
The menstrual cycle begins to change in a woman’s 40s, with variations in cycle duration. The early menopausal phase is defined by a 7-day variation in consecutive menstrual cycle length. The late menopausal transition is defined as skipping two cycles.
Women may suffer the following signs and symptoms in the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause):
- Periodic irregularities
- Sweating at night
- Problems with sleep
- Hot flashes
- Dryness of the cervix
- Gaining weight and slowing metabolism
- Hair loss and dry skin
- Mood swings
Period skipping is typical and expected during early menopause. Menstrual cycles frequently skip a month and then come back, or forgo several months and then restart monthly processes for a few months. Periods also tend to occur on shorter cycles, bringing them closer together. Consider a pregnancy test if you’ve missed a period but aren’t sure if you’ve started the menstrual change. Pregnancy is possible despite irregular periods.
When should you see a doctor?
Maintain frequent doctor appointments for preventive health care and any medical issues. Maintain these appointments throughout and after menopause.
Recommended health screening tests, including colonoscopy, AMH test, mammography, and triglyceride testing, may be part of preventive health care as you get older. Other tests and exams may be suggested by your doctor, such as thyroid testing if your medical history says it and breast and pelvic examinations.
If you suffer vaginal bleeding after menopause, always seek medical care.
Causes of Menopause
Menopause can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Reproductive hormones are naturally decreasing. Just like you enter your late 30s, your ovaries produce less oestrogen and progesterone, and your fertility declines. Menstrual periods could become longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, and most frequent in your 40s, until finally — on average, by age 51 — your ovaries stop producing eggs, and you no longer have periods.
The ovaries are removed during surgery (oophorectomy).
Your ovaries produce hormones to regulate the menstrual cycle, such as oestrogen and progesterone. Menopause begins rapidly after surgery to remove your ovaries. Your periods stop, and you’re more likely to have hot flashes and other hormonal changes. Because hormonal changes occur suddenly rather than gradually over time, the signs and symptoms can be extreme.
A hysterectomy, which removes your uterus but not your ovaries, generally does not result in immediate menopause. Even if you no longer have cycles, your ovaries keep producing eggs and oestrogen and progesterone.
Insufficiency of the ovaries
. Menopause impacts about 1% of women before the age of 40. (premature menopause). Early menopause can be caused by your ovaries’ inability to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones (primary ovarian insufficiency), which biological factors or an autoimmune disease can cause. However, no cause of early menopause can be identified in many cases. Hormone therapy is usually suggested for these women until they reach menopause naturally to protect their brains, hearts, and bones.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy
. These cancer treatments can end up causing menopause, resulting in symptoms including hot flashes during or shortly after diagnosis.
How Long Does Menopause Symptoms Last?
Each woman’s menopause is unique. Early menopause symptoms endure roughly four years on average.
Diagnosis of Menopause
You may assume that you are approaching menopause. Or your physician will say something based on the symptoms you’ve explained.
You can monitor your periods and chart them when they become irregular. The pattern will serve as another predictor to your doctor that you are approaching menopause.
Your physician may also analyse your blood for levels of:
- FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) (FSH). It generally increases as you reach menopause.
- Estradiol. It informs your doctor about how much oestrogen your ovaries produce.
- Hormones of the thyroid. This indicates that your thyroid gland is malfunctioning, which can alter your period and cause symptoms that resemble menopause.
- The anti-Mullerian hormone is a hormone that prevents Mullerian syndrome (AMH). Your body’s reproductive tissues produce it. It can notify your doctor about your ovaries’ egg reserve.
Treatment for Menopause
Menopause is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Many symptoms will fade with time. However, if they are causing you discomfort, treatments can help you feel better. Common examples include:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It is referred to as menopausal hormonal treatment. You take medications to replace hormones that your body no longer generates. Definite drugs or drug combinations can aid with hot flashes and vaginal symptoms while strengthening your bones. However, because they can increase your risk of health problems such as heart disease or breast cancer, you must take the smallest dose that works for the shortest period.
- Hormone therapy is applied topically. This is an oestrogen cream, insert, or gel that is applied to the vagina to alleviate dryness.
- Medication that is not hormone-based. The FDA has approved paroxetine (Brisdelle, Paxil) for the treatment of hot flashes. The nerve medication gabapentin (Gralise, Neuraptine, Neurontin) and the blood pressure medication clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay) may also help. Selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) are medications that help your body use oestrogen to treat hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
- Osteoporosis medications. To help keep your bones strong, you may take medications or vitamin D supplements.
Changes in lifestyle
Many women find that making lifestyle adjustments might help them cope with menopause symptoms. Take the following steps:
- Drink cool water, sit or sleep near a fan, and dress in layers if you’re suffering hot flashes.
- Exercise regularly to improve sleep quality and avoid heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.’
- To prevent bladder leaks, strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises.
- To avoid memory difficulties, keep yourself socially and mentally active.
- You should not smoke. Tobacco use may result in early menopause and a rise in hot flashes.
- To help with hot flashes, eat various foods and maintain a healthy weight.
- Minimize your alcohol intake to reduce your risk of breast cancer and improve your sleep.
- Relax by doing activities like yoga, deep breathing, or having a massage.
- For dryness, use an over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer or lubrication.
Treatments for Menopause that are Alternative and Complementary
There haven’t been many extensive studies to see if other supplements like black cohosh or “bioidentical” hormones help with symptoms. Before starting any herbal or nutritional supplements, consult a doctor.
Acupressure, yoga, and tai chi are safe and secure ways to manage symptoms.