Topic : Menopause, What You Should Know
What is menopause?
Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles. This is a natural phenomenon that happens in every woman’s life and it affects women differently. While some women can experience menopause early, others can experience it at a very late stage in their life.
During this period there are physical, physiological and psychological changes in a woman’s life, these changes are driven by a steady decline in the level of the key female reproductive hormones most especially estrogen and progesterone.
The hallmark of menopause is the hormonal changes that bring hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms that accompany this condition.
Globally the average age of onset for “natural” menopause is 51, however, due to some environmental factors, genetics, illness or medical treatment/ procedure, some women go through menopause before the age of 40.
Any Menopause that occurs before this age, whether natural or induced is known as “premature” menopause.
● How does one understand and deal with it?
There are some common signs and symptoms of menopause, including:
1. Irregular or missed periods
2. Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
3. Hot flashes (a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the upper part of the body)
Along with the above symptoms, some women may also experience:
1. Vaginal dryness (the vagina may also become thinner and less flexible)
2. Bladder irritability and worsening of loss of bladder control
3. Emotional changes (irritability, mood swings, mild depression)
4. Dry skin, eyes, or mouth and hair loss
5. Sleeplessness and loss of breast tissue
6. Decreased sex drive
7. Problems with memory and reduced concentration
8. Osteoporosis and night sweats
Menopause can occur early, if you are under the age of 40 and experience any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor to determine:
1. Whether you are undergoing premature menopause:
2. You have undergone chemotherapy or radiation
3. You or a family member has an autoimmune disorder.
4. You have unsuccessfully tried to become pregnant for more than a year
5. Your mother or sister experienced premature menopause
● How do I know if I am in Menopausal phase??
Tests are not typically required to diagnose natural menopause, however in certain circumstances, if needed follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), pregnancy and thyroid function test are conducted to diagnose menopause. FSH causes your ovaries to produce estrogen, so when your ovaries slow down their production of estrogen, your levels of FSH increase.
● Does menopause affect a woman’s energy in any way?
Normally menopause affects the whole system of a woman’s body and can lead to some complications, including
1. Low levels of estrogen, which can lead to changes in a woman’s overall health and may increase her risk for certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis.
2. Other health risks associated with the loss of estrogen include increased risk for colon and ovarian cancer,
3. Gum disease
4. Cataract formation.
● How Is Premature Menopause Treated?
The symptoms and signs of menopause, as well as the emotional issues that may result from it, can be managed with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and other restrictive therapies. HRT can either be estrogen only or combined, however the risk of womb cancer in women with a womb taking estrogen only must be considered. There are also non hormonal medications for women who cannot or do not want to take hormones such as antidepressants.
In conclusion we encourage women with these symptoms to see their doctor for evaluation and discussion on the best treatment and health risks.
Dr. Chudi Ufondu
References & Photo Credit
· Mayo Clinic