What lurks somewhere in the daunting future and creeps up on you without a warning? *drum roll*– Menopause. The only positive that you probably associate with menopause is freedom from your monthly period. Ah such a relief! But can menopause make you wish you could rewind time? Let’s find out!
Although the big ‘M’ finally catching up with you may seem intimidating, it’s a natural process of ageing and a cue to celebrate your wisdom and liberation. Think of it as an opportunity to start all over again by drawing on your experiences and chasing your passion, uninterrupted.
However, you can make this ‘change’ a beautiful experience by being better prepared so you know what to expect. You’ll be surprised to know there’s more to menopause than just mood swings and saying adios to your period forever.
Menopause is a stage that marks the end of reproductive years in a woman’s life. How do you know you’ve officially entered menopause? By completing 12 months without a period. This end of period is just the beginning of hormonal and physical changes in your body.
Menopause normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. But it’s perfectly normal if it happens much earlier or later because in a few rare cases a woman may reach menopause even in her late 20s or 60s.
Your ovaries release eggs every month and secrete certain hormones. Menopause happens when the ovaries stop releasing eggs every month (read: no more period). This also means reduced levels of the Estrogen and Progesterone hormones. In other words, your ovaries officially retire and are off-duty. That is when your period starts becoming irregular and then finally comes to a halt.
1. Natural Menopause
This type of menopause occurs due to natural decline in the levels of estrogen and progesterone.
2. Premature menopause or Early Menopause
This type of menopause occurs when your period stops much before 40 years of age due to genetic or medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid, etc.
3. Surgical Menopause
This type of menopause is an induced one that is a result of treatments and surgeries, such as chemotherapy, hysterectomy, etc.
Phases of Menopause
It is the gradual process of your ovaries producing lower estrogen levels that occurs in a span of 8-10 years before you hit menopause.
It is the transition time when you’ve completed 12 months with no menstruation.
It is the stage that follows menopause and it means you’ve not had a period for more than 12 months.
Here’s a lowdown on the signs and effects of menopause so you know when it’s hitting you.
• Irregular period
Your menstrual cycle will get erratic with the reduced hormone production until you eventually stop getting your period.
• Hot flashes
Hot flashes are common and are indicated by redness of face, neck and chest due to sudden rise in body temperature and can occur anytime during day and night.
• Night sweats
Night sweats are associated with excessive perspiration at night disrupting your sleep.
What sleep cycle? Thanks to frequent night sweats and hot flashes, you’ll have a hard time sleeping well.
• Mouth, eye and skin dryness
Apart from dryness of your skin and eyes, the decreased level of saliva will leave your tongue, lips and roof of your mouth dry.
• Weight gain
A decrease in metabolism and the tendency to store fat more easily during menopause could lead to weight gain.
• Mood swings and depression
Fluctuating hormones can result in wavering emotions and that could mean inexplicable irritability, anxiety, sadness and rage. If left unchecked, it could result in mild to severe depression.
• Memory lapses
Cognitive function could be affected with the onset of menopause and that’d lead to memory lapses, though temporary.
• Frequent urination
The loss of tissue elasticity in your vagina and weaker pelvic muscles could result in lower bladder control.
• Poor concentration
Estrogen plays a significant role in ensuring glucose burn for energy but with reduced levels of this hormone you’ll end up with a lack of focus.
• Digestion troubles
As your body adjusts to changes, the functioning of your digestive system could get disrupted leading to bloating, cramps or indigestion.
• Decreased libido
Since estrogen controls a woman’s sex drive, a decline in this hormone level will automatically affect your sex drive.
• Vaginal dryness
A drop is estrogen level will mean reduced natural lubrication in your vagina leading to dryness and discomfort.
• Sore or tender breasts
Your breasts turn tender and are more sensitive to pain, courtesy fluctuating hormones.
• Racing heart
Lower estrogen level can overstimulate the circulatory system and cause irregular heartbeats.
• Hair thinning and increased facial hair growth
Menopause accelerates hair thinning and loss while spiking the rate at which your facial hair grows.
• Joint pain, muscle tension or osteoporosis
Increased stress and fatigue can trigger a strain in muscles and in extreme cases a drop in bone density can put you at the risk of osteoporosis.
We’ve listed down a few home remedies for menopause that can help you handle menopause symptoms.
Apart from supplements and a few home treatments, improved lifestyle changes are all you need to get through menopause without losing your mind. Here are a few lifestyle changes that can do the trick for you.
- If you sense you’re slipping into depression, try talking to a therapist or a loved one to deal with the anxiety and drastic change.
- Your normal diet won’t suffice and you’ll need menopause supplements to improve your energy levels and reduce the chances of osteoporosis. Daily intake of Vitamin D, Calcium and Magnesium supplements as prescribed by your doctor can make menopause easier.
- You probably avoided it for most of your life but it’d really help to finally try Yoga and meditation to keep both physical fitness and mental health in check.
- Don’t skimp on moisturizers if you want to take care of increased skin dryness. Regularly apply moisturizers on skin and stay hydrated with lots of water.
- Cut down on the booze and cigarettes if you want to lower the impact of menopause on your body.
- To keep you weight in check, reduce your daily calorie intake and exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes. The release of endorphins, the feel good hormones, is just an added bonus to perk up your mood.
- Avoid wearing tight-clothes when outside as it could only trigger a hot flash. In the same vein, invest in a small portable fan to handle hot flashes when outside.
- As a natural substitute for hormone replacement therapy, Black Cohosh helps treating hormone related symptoms. Consume regularly based on your doctor’s prescription.