As women age, they undergo different types of changes in their bodies. One specific change is called menopause wherein women experience various menopausal symptoms. Since every woman will eventually undergo this phase, it is best to have an in-depth understanding of this topic.
When a woman is at the end of her cycle and fertility, she is having menopause. This occurs when the ovaries are not able to make estrogen and progesterone anymore. Specifically, when a woman does not menstruate for 12 consecutive months, she can no longer bear a child naturally.
Menopause often occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55 where the menopausal symptoms start to appear. The development of this menopausal phase may progress before or after this age bracket. Even if menopause is a naturally occurring process, the physical and emotional symptoms may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy, and even take an emotional toll on you. There are several effective treatments such as therapy and lifestyle adjustments that are known to help relieve symptoms and reduce the effects of menopause.
There are quite a number of causes where menopause can occur. Some of these are as follows:
A NATURAL DECREASE IN REPRODUCTIVE HORMONES – Your ovaries start making lesser estrogen and progesterone as you reach the end of your 30s. These hormones are responsible for menstruation and fertility. Because of this, your capacity to bear a child decreases. As you enter your 40s, your menstrual period becomes longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, and becomes less frequent until your ovaries stop producing eggs at around age 51, and eventually, you will have no more periods.
SURGICAL REMOVAL OF THE UTERUS – The procedure called hysterectomy is done to remove your uterus via surgery. Often, your ovaries are not included in the procedure. This does not cause immediate menopause even if you do not have any periods anymore because your ovaries still release eggs and produce estrogen and progesterone. But in cases where there is the total removal of your uterus and ovaries (total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy), this will right away cause you to have menopause. When your period stops abruptly, you will have hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms that may be severe due to the sudden hormonal changes.
CHEMOTHERAPY AND RADIATION THERAPY – For cancer patients, various treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation may induce menopause. This will lead to symptoms such as hot flashes that usually occur during or shortly after the course of treatment. In some instances, the lack of period and end of fertility may not always be permanent after undergoing chemotherapy. For this reason, you may still want to apply birth control measures just in case.
A CONDITION CALLED PRIMARY OVARIAN INSUFFICIENCY – Occurring in a ratio that is one in 10, 000, only 1 percent of women experience menopausal symptoms before they reach the age of 40. This is called premature menopause resulting from primary ovarian insufficiency – where the ovaries fail to produce enough levels of reproductive hormones. Possible reasons for this condition may be due to genetic factors or autoimmune disease. The management for this condition is often hormone therapy until the woman reaches the mature menopausal age so as to protect the brain, bones, and heart.
After understanding the causes of menopause, we then need to have a good understanding of the different types of menopausal symptoms. Although there are similarities in what most women feel, more often than not, every woman’s menopause experience is unique. Symptoms become severe for ladies having sudden menopause or those that happen in a shorter period of time.
Aside from cancer or hysterectomy, menopausal symptoms can also be attributed to lifestyle choices such as smoking in which the woman will have more severe symptoms than those who don’t have the said conditions.
IRREGULAR PERIODS – During the earlier stages of menopause, menopausal symptoms such as a lesser frequency of menstruation may start to appear. This is a classic sign that menopause is near. Either your periods come less often or more, either they become lighter or heavier, or even last longer or shorter than your usual period. You will not be able to predict when your next period will come. During this phase, it may be difficult to get pregnant but it is still possible as long as you still experience menstruation.
HAVING HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT SWEATS – When you feel hot or warm all of a sudden with no possible reason, you may be experiencing hot flashes. Your skin may appear flush red and your heart may beat faster. After this sudden episode, then you suddenly feel cold. Hot flashes that happen during your sleep are called night sweats. They might be so intense that they often disrupt your sleep and you wake up all of a sudden. These menopausal symptoms vary for every woman. They may last for a few minutes or an hour and might be mild or severe. These usually go on even for decades while some may not experience them at all. It is best to consult your doctor immediately if you are having hot flashes but you aren’t sure if it is menopause-related.
DIFFICULTY IN SLEEPING – When you have trouble going to sleep or if you wake up during the night, there might be different reasons behind this. But if you do not usually have trouble related to sleep, then you might probably be approaching menopause. This is also often associated with other menopausal symptoms. But, if you have them for a while with no apparent reason, then it’s about time to tell your doctor.
YOU HAVE A FEELING OF MOODINESS – Due to the fluctuation and changes in your hormones, you may feel moody when you are experiencing menopause. But if you’ve had anxiety and depression before, expect a possibility of worsening symptoms. No matter what your reason may be, you deserve to feel good about yourself. If symptoms last for more than weeks, you’d have to tell your doctor.
BEING FORGETFUL – It’s normal for both men and women to forget things during their middle age. There are a number of possible reasons why people forget. It could be due to menopause or constant exposure to stress.
CHANGES IN THE WAY THEY FEEL ABOUT SEX – Either a woman will feel less interested in sex or they become more aroused, these things happen during menopause.
Some women feel free and enjoy sex even more because they do not have to worry about getting pregnant. While others feel displeasure as sex becomes more painful with a drier vagina during menopause.
PHYSICAL CHANGES – And of course, since we are talking about the different changes that will happen to a lady’s body because of menopause, we also need to discuss the physical menopausal symptoms. With menopause, your hair and skin become drier, you gain more weight and more belly fat, you also tend to have lesser muscles, and you will find it harder to move with the stiffness of your joints. This is why it is important to remain active and maintain a healthy physique so that you can keep your strength and keep your body in good shape.
There are even more menopausal symptoms that are yet to be discussed deeper. For now, since we already know the basics of menopause, we must do our part in order to share the information that we learned or apply those important steps for us to be able to manage our own menopausal symptoms.