The first thing you need to understand is that menopause is perfectly natural and that it is not a disease but only a life transition.
When a woman ages and mainly reaches her 40’s or 50’s, menopause will occur. It is a general process in which your monthly periods will stop, and you’ll no longer be able to get pregnant naturally. And a woman may have to go through several mental and physical changes after menopause. So, read this article further to learn how it could affect your life and what you could do about it.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is a biological process when a woman’s menstruation cycle comes to an end permanently. In fact, it is not a disease or a disorder. It is completely natural and can usually happen anytime after the age of 45 or early 50’s. But, if a particular woman goes through surgery where her ovaries are surgically removed, menopause could occur anytime sooner before the usual age it tends to happen.
What Exactly Happens During Menopause
As we have presented on top, unless your ovaries are not removed in surgery or the menstruation cycle is stopped due to any other medical condition, menopause occurs naturally after a woman reaches her 40’s or 50’s. This usually marks the aging of a woman. When you get to the age mentioned above and go an entire year without monthly menstruation, without any other medical reason that causes it to stop artificially, you know that you have reached menopause. The medical conditions could be hormonal birth control, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOD), hyperthyroidism, etc.
So, when a woman ages, the reproductive cycle starts to slow down and tends to stop. This cycle has been consistently operating since puberty. And, as menopause approaches, the ovaries make more limited levels of a hormone named estrogen. Thus, when this drop happens, your menstrual cycle begins to change. It can initially become irregular and then stop. However, bodily changes or physical changes can also take place as your body adjusts to varying levels of hormones. And, there are three stages of menopause as perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause, which we will discuss in the upcoming sections. Nevertheless, the symptoms you encounter throughout each stage of menopause are all part of your body’s adaptation to these variances.
How Long Does Menopause Last for?
Once a woman enters menopause, she will have to deal with it for the rest of her life. There will be no more bleeding from monthly menstruation. However, the symptoms of menopause may remain for about four to five years. But that will vary from person to person.
What is the Earliest Age for Menopause?
As we presented to the top, most women enter menopause between 45 and 55, with the ordinary age being about 51. Still, about 1% of women undergo menopause before the age of 40 years. This is known as premature menopause. And, menopause between 41 and 45 years of age is called early menopause.
How Do You know If You’re Going Into Menopause – What Is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is also known as the “menopause transition period”. Perimenopause could usually begin eight to ten years before menopause when the ovaries progressively produce a lower amount of estrogen. This is the earliest stage of menopause. Generally, this starts in a woman’s 40s but could still begin in the 30s as well. Moreover, perimenopause continues up until menopause, the time when the ovaries stop discharging eggs completely. And, in the latter one to two years of perimenopause, the reduction in estrogen stimulates. And, many women would experience perimenopausal symptoms at this stage. However, women could still have their menstrual cycles during this time and have a chance of getting pregnant naturally.
Women could experience indistinct and distinct symptoms throughout the menopause transition period. Therefore, it is important to closely observe your physical and mental changes and understand that you have come closer to menopause.
#01 – Irregular Periods
The most common and maybe the first change that you get to feel is the irregularity of your menstruation cycle. As ovulation grows more inconstant, the length of time between monthly periods may be longer or shorter. In addition, your bleeding may be light to heavy, and you also could leap some periods. So, if you have a steadfast difference of seven days or more between the range of your menstruation cycle, you may be in early perimenopause. And, if you have a range of 60 days or more between periods, you’re probably in late perimenopause.
#02 – Vaginal and bladder issues.
Your vaginal tissues tend to lose lubrication and their elasticity when the estrogen levels decrease. This will often lead to painful intercourse. Moreover, low estrogen may also leave you more exposed to urinary or vaginal infections. And the loss of tissue tone may lead to urinary incontinence.
#03 – Sleeping Issues Associated with Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are a prevalent problem throughout perimenopause. The strength, extent, and rate could vary from person to person. However, sleep problems are usually due to hot flashes or night sweats. But, sleep seldomly becomes changeable even without them.
#04 – Mood Fluctuations
Mood changes can be pretty disturbing to you during this time. Mood fluctuations, annoyance, or enhanced prospect of depression may happen throughout perimenopause. In fact, the cause of these symptoms may be due to sleeping disorders connected with hot flashes. Anyway, mood changes may also be generated by circumstances that aren’t associated with the hormonal transitions of perimenopause.
#05 – Changes in Sexual Capacity
You may get to experience some differences in your sexual function during this time. During perimenopause, sexual arousal and excitement may change. Still, if you had pleasing sexual intimacy before menopause, this will possibly last through perimenopause and ahead.
#06 – Fluctuations in Cholesterol Levels
Your cholesterol level is something that you observe closely. Diminishing estrogen levels may result in adverse fluctuations in your blood cholesterol levels. This will increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), paving the way to an amplified chance of heart disease. At the same time, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good cholesterol) declines in many women as they grow older, heightening the opportunity of heart diseases.
#07 – Sinking Fertility
It is not a secret that problems associated with women’s menstruation cycle often lead to fertility issues. Therefore, since ovulation becomes irregular during perimenopause, your capability to conceive drops. However, as long as you have periods, pregnancy is still feasible. And, if you wish to bypass pregnancy, use birth control until you reach menopause.
#08 – Impairment of Bones
With decreasing estrogen levels, you begin to lose bone more speedily than you repair it. This will increase your chance of osteoporosis, which is a disease that produces weak bones.
This brief explanation is to tell you that you will step ahead to menopause after perimenopause. So, after been about approximately four years of perimenopause, a woman will reach menopause. However, the perimenopausal time range may vary from person to person. Menopause is the degree when a woman no longer has monthly menstrual bleeding. At this stage, the ovaries have ceased discharging eggs and producing most of their estrogen. You can know that you have reached menopause when you are gone without menstrual bleeding for 12 continuous months.
What is Postmenopause?
As we said in the top sections, you will reach menopause in the late ’40s or early ’50s. So, after you come to menopause, the period of postmenopause then will enter the scene and then last till the end of your life. Postmenopause is a remarkable milestone in a woman’s life where she will encounter several positive and negative health impacts.
Therefore, let’s begin with the positive health effects that could come with postmenopause. After postmenopause,
- You will no longer have to deal with disturbing menstrual bleeding each month.
- You will be free of that pesky pain package that comes with your period ( menstrual cramps, backache, stress, abdominal pain, headache, etc.)
- No longer fears for unexpected pregnancies.
But, while you will be getting free from all the problems mentioned above, some new unfavorable health conditions could hit you with menopause and postmenopause.
Health Issues and Symptoms Associated with Menopause and Postmenopause
With those eight health issues we discussed before under perimenopause, some other problems, too, could arise once you reach menopause and postmenopause. However, the hot flash and night sweating condition that you get to experience through perimenopausal and menopausal stages could fade by postmenopause. So let’s begin with common symptoms and then proceed to the ones that most of you are unaware of.
#01 – Exhaustion
Exhaustion and lethargy are very typical symptoms and come about as a consequence of wavering hormone levels. Therefore, most women who reach menopause will have days where they just feel dull and tired.
#02 – Depression
Mood swings could ultimately result in depression in women who enter menopause and postmenopause. Moreover, a study has proved that women at menopause can be more inclined to witness gains in levels of a brain protein called Monoamine Oxidase A. And, it is a hormone linked to depression.
#03 – Weight gain
Putting on weight, especially around the tummy area, is another common and disturbing effect of menopause. This, too, happens due to the hormonal change in the body. And, along with the tiredness, it will be more challenging to exercise.
#04 – Joint Problems
Again, the chief cause for this is hormone changes. In fact, estrogen is accountable for sustaining our joint fluid levels. It is not a wonder that we all go through joint pain as we grow older. But, for many women, musculoskeletal niggles are caused as a result of menopause. This weakened movement and flexibility affect the hips and knees.
Furthermore, the weight gain that comes with menopause could also affect joint problems. And, also, dehydration that is caused throughout this time can make the joints stiffen during this time.
#05 – Hair Thinning and Hair Fall
Estrogen and progesterone hormones play a significant role in supporting our hair to grow and stay on our heads. But, with menopause, these two hormones tend to get degenerated. Therefore, when they deteriorate, it also increases androgen, which can contract hair follicles. So, as a result, hair thinning and hair fall could occur.
#06 – Soreness in Breasts
Elevated hormonal stress and change periodically cause breast tenderness and soreness. Thus, menopause can lead to faint or throbbing pain or even a burning sensation in the breasts.
#07 – Frequent Headaches
The frequent headaches caused after menopause are also called menstrual migraines. The hormone disturbance and imbalance make these headaches more critical. And estrogen recession, which accompanies menopause, can be a trigger for migraines.
#08 – Fragile Nails
Brittle nails or easily breakable nails are another common thing that can occur due to hormonal fluctuation. With decreasing and varying estrogen levels, our body finds it tougher to control its water level. Therefore, this results in dehydration plus fragile nails.
#09 – Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)
Not all women who enter menopause or perimenopause get this. So, you are lucky if you don’t have this symptom. Burning mouth syndrome is caused by lower saliva production due to the falling estrogen levels in aged women. Basically, it hits the roof of your mouth, your lips, and your cheeks. It can also give a metallic taste to your mouth.
#10 – Gum Issues
Most women who are in menopause have some sort of gum problem. They could be gum bleeding, gingivitis, or gum recession.
#11 – Difficulty in Concentration and Memory Lapses
Estrogen has an intimate connection with brain function. Therefore, when the estrogen levels fluctuate with the stages of menopause, you could experience a lack of focus, more challenging to concentrate or even forgetfulness.
#12 – Tingling or Numbness in Hands and Feet
Again, lower estrogen levels are to be blamed; most women experience tingling and numbness in their hands and feet. This happens because the changing hormone levels impact the central nervous system.
#13 – Tender and Itchy Skin
Decreased estrogen levels could challenge the skin’s production of natural oils and collagen. Therefore, many women experience itchy skin, flaky or dry skin throughout menopause.
#14 – Increased Sweating and Body Odour
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause cause all sorts of unusual, sudden changes to our bodies. On that note, menopause can result in the body temperature inclining a bit and cause you to sweat more. As we mentioned earlier, a shortage of estrogen prevents our body from regulating its water level better. Thus, resulting in dehydration and makes our sweat much more intense and probably more smelly.
#15 – Potential Allergies
Hormones have a close relationship with the immune system. Therefore, during menopause, women could experience notable changes in their allergy forms. This happens because the immunity system is struck by stress and releases histamines. Most women experience severity at night.
Some other possible health issues during menopause and throughout postmenopause are as follows.
- Dizzy spells
- Facial hair growth
- Muscle Tightness
- Neuron flashes
- Heart palpitations
- Panic attacks
- Arthritis and osteoporosis
How to Stay Healthy After Menopause?
A majority of women who enter the stages of menopause may undergo the issues and health problems mentioned above. Some may get to experience almost all of them, whereas some may encounter a few or nothing at all. However, with proper nutrition and changes in lifestyle, it is not that challenging to overcome the problems and difficulties of this natural transition period for a woman.
Let’s now see what you can do to win over the troubles that you may have to face during menopause.
#01 – Nutrition
Proper nutrition is key to overcome a lot of health problems that you could face during this time. A balanced diet fortified with vitamins, minerals, and calcium can give you a dramatic change.
- Eat more whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, vegetables, fruits, soy-based food, cold-pressed oils, etc.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, or sugary beverage consumption.
- Avoid smoking.
- Limit excess sodium (salt) and sugar consumption.
- Choose healthy fats instead of saturated fats.
- Include more calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B complex in your regular diet.
#02 – Exercise
Exercise can help us stay healthy in all stages of life. But, women who enter the transitional phase of their lives could have optimal results from regular workouts.
Exercising could help you with those pesky pounds you gained after menopause. In addition, exercise benefits the heart and bones and could even boost your mood. Moreover, physical activities could help you to overcome,
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Chronic back pain
- Poor circulation
- Weak muscles
- Sleep disorders like insomnia
You could practice aerobic and weight-bearing exercises like,
- Moderate weight training
Besides, make sure that you always talk to your healthcare provider before starting any physical exercise or a workout plan.
#03 – Pleasurable Sex After Menopause.
We can see that many women deny their feelings for sex after menopause. This can lead to major relationship problems and even stress and depression. Many women find difficulty in intercourse mainly because menopause comes with vaginal dryness. But, to overcome this problem, you could seek the help of safe lubricants that are readily available on the market.
But, still, if you think that lubricants can’t solve the problem, talk to your physician and seek medical help. Most of the time, they could assist you with options that are best for you.
#04 – Hot Flashes are Beatable.
Try these simple tips to beat the hot flashes you get within the first phase of menopause.
- Make your bedroom a cool place, avoiding warm and cozy bedding.
- Dress in light-weighted clothes when you go to sleep.
- Limit hot and spicy food.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Reduce stress ( practice yoga or meditation)
- Include more soy-based food in your diet.
Treatment for Menopause- What is Hormone Therapy After Menopause?
Some women consider hormone therapy after they enter menopause as a solution to their repercussions with postmenopause.
Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) or postmenopausal hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy is a procedure recommended by doctors. Generally, doctors may suggest MHT ease general symptoms of menopause. Additionally, MHT could help long-term physiological changes like bone loss. Hormone therapy usually includes treatment with estrogen alone or estrogen plus progestin. Progestin is a synthetic hormone whose outcomes are similar to those of progesterone.
The Types of Hormone Therapy
A hormone replacement therapy may come in two forms. They are as follows.
Systemic Hormone Therapy
Systemic estrogen comes in pill, skin patch, ring, gel, cream, or spray form. Generally, it includes a greater dose of estrogen that is incorporated throughout the body. This hormone therapy is utilized to treat any of the typical symptoms of menopause.
Low-dose Vaginal Products
Low-dose vaginal estrogen products come in cream, tablet, or ring form. It usually minimizes the quantity of estrogen digested by the body. In that case, low-dose vaginal preparations are generally only utilized to treat the vaginal and urinary indications of menopause.
What is Male Menopause?
You might find it a bit weird to have heard this term, but male menopause is real. Male menopause, or Andropause, is a situation that strikes older men. And, It stocks a set of indications that are associated with diminishing testosterone levels and aging. According to the specialists, many men could experience the symptoms of male menopause as they grow older. The term has got its name because its symptoms are so related to that of female menopause.
Symptoms of male menopause include,
- Weight gain
- Low sex drive and capacity
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sleeping disorders
- Lack of strength
- Hot flashes
However, once a doctor diagnoses these symptoms are due to male menopause, it is not difficult to overcome a few of them with some simple lifestyle changes. But, a person may have to seek medical help with major health issues.
A woman will have to face all three stages of menopause at any time of her life after she reaches 40 or 45. The most significant point you should remember is that this condition is entirely normal and that you don’t have to worry about its symptoms. With proper lifestyle changes, good nutrition, and a clear mindset, you can face your entrance to menopause happily. We believe that our article assisted you in understanding what menopause is and its effects on your body.
Sources and References
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists