Most ladies talk so much about menstruation and pregnancy, but when it comes to menopause, conversations are a little hush-hush. So when women reach that point after the prime of their lives, conditions associated with menopause can get confusing and hard to deal with.
But what exactly is menopause? What are its signs and symptoms? What are the causes of these symptoms? What can you do about these symptoms? Read on to find out!
What is Menopause?
Menopause is technically the end of a female’s fertility and menstrual cycle. It occurs when the body ceases to produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are responsible and needed for a woman’s period and fertility.
The term “menopause” can also be used to refer to and describe any changes a woman’s body undergoes before, during, and after her menstruation stops coming.
Usually, the menopausal stage that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive period is when menstruation has stopped for 12 months or a year.
Hormonal changes actually start about three to five years before the last menstrual period, in a span of time called perimenopause. Women undergoing this transition stage begin to experience menopausal symptoms even if they still get their monthly period.
Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause brings about many signs and symptoms associated with the lowered production of female sex hormones. Most of these are experienced during the perimenopause period. Symptoms are varied and may or may not be extreme.
Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of menopause.
1. Irregularities in your menses
Because of the decline in female sex hormones produced by the ovaries, your monthly flow can either be lighter or heavier than what you’re usually used to. It may also become irregular, coming late or earlier.
Some women also experience longer periods or occasional spotting. The duration can also be prolonged or shortened.
2. Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are also very common among women as a major menopause symptom. This is characterised by sudden feelings of heat in the upper parts or all throughout your body.
In some cases, the face and neck can also turn red. You may also feel flushed or sweaty. Some hot flashes are mild, while some are very strong to the point that it can wake you up while sleeping.
Hot flashes usually last from 30 seconds to about 10 minutes, as stated by the National Institute on Aging. In most women, hot flashes occur for one to two years after their last period.
These can also continue after menopause, but with less frequency and intensity.
3. Vaginal Dryness
Low estrogen and progesterone levels also affect the production of moisture within the vaginal walls. Vaginal dryness can be experienced at any age but is a common problem in menopausal women.
Because of this, some women experience itching, burning, or stinging sensations around the vulva. This can also cause pain or discomfort during intercourse and a feeling of needing to urinate often.
4. Insomnia or difficulty to sleep
Menopausal women may also find it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Because of the hormonal changes and a combination of other symptoms, you may wake up earlier.
Trying to fall back to sleep after that can also be a challenge.
5. Urinary Incontinence
Due to the loss of urethral and vaginal elasticity, women in different stages of menopause commonly lose control of their bladder or experience frequent, strong and sudden urges to urinate.
This may be followed by involuntary urination called urinary incontinence or urge incontinence or urinating while lifting, coughing, or laughing termed stress incontinence. This can also make you more prone to urinary tract infection.
This can also be due to the thinning of the linings and weakening of the pelvic muscles.
6. Weight Gain
Most women gain weight during the perimenopause stage and after due to slower metabolism, among other factors. You need to change your diet and also get active in order to maintain a healthy weight.
7. Mood swings and Depression
Due to changes in hormonal production, the moods of women during menopause are affected. Some of the most common complaints are irritability, extreme mood swings, and depression.
However, remember that feeling down or “blue” is very much a natural effect of hormone fluctuations to your brain.
How to Deal with Menopause Symptoms
While most of the symptoms mentioned seem manageable, some women may find them debilitating. Some also experience none of the unpleasant signs and symptoms.
If you find yourself experiencing these on perimenopause or after menopause, here are some tips on what you can do.
● If you have already missed your period for a whole year, then begin spotting, consult your doctor and watch out for more serious conditions.
● To combat vaginal dryness, water based lubricants or vaginal moisturisers may help. If these do not work, local vaginal estrogen treatments are also available as rings, tablets, or creams.
● To help you sleep and rest better, try relaxing and some breathing techniques. Exercising during the day can also help. Listen to mellow music, reading, or taking a long bath before bed can also help you relax.
● Try to sleep on the same schedule every night.
● Avoid food and drinks that alter your sleep like caffeine, alcohol, or chocolate.
● Abstaining from alcohol, staying hydrated, applying topical vaginal estrogen, and performing kegel exercises can also aid in fighting unexpected urination.
● Changing your diet and eating 200 calories less once you reach your 50’s can help you maintain a normal weight, according to Mayo Clinic.
● Aerobic exercises can also help keep you occupied, prevent weight gain, and reduce mood swings.
● Strength training at least twice a week can also help tone and strengthen your muscles while also helping you lose weight.
So there you have it! The signs and symptoms of menopause may seem frightening, but the right information can help you conquer them and still live your life to the fullest.
If you’re already at your menopause stage, you now know more about what you’re experiencing and how to deal with it. If you are yet to be menopausal, follow these tips to help you overcome the complications, signs, and symptoms of menopause.