What is Menopause?
Menopause is the absence of menstrual periods for a year. It is the time when the menstrual cycle ends and the functions of the ovaries stop. The process of the ovaries’ functioning and ceasing does not happen quickly; it is a gradual process. This transition period is called a perimenopausal phase and the experience of this is different for every woman. The average age of the start of menopause is 50 years but it may occur earlier or later. There is no link to the onset of menopause and when a woman starts having her periods.
Menopause for every woman is a unique experience. Hence symptoms can vary and is severe when it happens suddenly or for a short time. Depending on the types of menopause like perimenopause or menopause symptoms vary. Signs of perimenopause are:
- Light or heavy periods than normal
- Hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing
- Frequency of menstruation reduces
Symptoms of menopause include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Unexplained weight gain
- Anxiety and depression
- Memory and concentration problems
- Reduced libido
- Increased Urination
- Increased infections especially UTI
- Tender breasts
- Dry eyes, skin, and mouth
- Racing heart
- Pain and stiffness in joints
- Loss of muscles and bone mass
- Increased hair growth in face, neck, chest and other areas of the body
- Hair loss and thinning
Who is at Risk?
Menopause is a natural happening for every woman. But certain Menopause risk factors are there for early menopause (menopause before 40 years of age) which is not good for the health of the women. It includes:
- Women who have had surgeries have greater chances of early menopause. Oophorectomy, hysterectomy, cervical cancer surgery, pelvic surgery, and other such which reduce estrogen levels are at risk of early menopause.
- Women who have undergone radiation and chemotherapy are likely to have early menopause.
- Women with chromosome defects like Turner syndrome where ovaries don’t function properly have increased chances of early menopause.
- It is experienced by women with Autoimmune diseases also. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the ovaries causing early menopause.
- Smokers have a risk of getting menopause early.
There are various stages in a women’s life and menopause is also considered as a stage of life. It is not an illness but a natural experience that happens in middle age. A woman has all the eggs stored in the ovaries. These ovaries also produce hormones like estrogen and progesterone which are needed for menstruation. The ovaries are also needed for ovulation or release of eggs. When the women reach menopause, the eggs are no longer released by the ovaries.
Menopause usually happens between 41 to 55 years of age. Other than natural aging reasons for Menopause that happen before 40 are surgeries, chemotherapy, and lifestyle.
How is Menopause Diagnosed?
Menopause diagnosis is done by a doctor, generally, a gynecologist or a general physician, which would include the following:
- If you are having symptoms of menopause and below 45 years of age then a menopause test called PicoAMH Elisa is done. This helps to determine if the woman has entered menopause.
- A general physician can order a blood test to determine the levels of hormones in the blood.
- During perimenopause, the hormone levels fluctuate and hence menstrual history, medical history is also used to diagnose.
- Depending on that the physician may refer to Menopause doctor who will ask for additional tests like thyroid function, liver function, kidney function, hCG tests, etc to rule out any other health issues which may be causing these symptoms.
Keep track of your periods as that gives a clue to the doctor if you are menopausal.
How is Menopause Treated?
Menopause is not an illness and hence there is no Menopause cure as such and symptoms go away on their own. Only early menopause needs a ‘how to stop Menopause’ treatment. Some of the Menopause treatment options below can bring relief to symptoms and also stop early menopause:
- Hormone replacement therapy, HRT: A doctor provides medicine for Menopause by supplementing the hormones that the body is unable to produce. It helps in symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness and irritation.
- Topical therapy: It is in the form of creams, gels, or inserts which produce estrogen.
- Medications: These are provided to treat symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal discomfort. Vitamin D supplements are also given for bone strengthening.
Menopause may be a natural process but there are ways to get relief from symptoms. Contact our Menopause doctor at Cure.fit to learn more and get the best treatment.
How is Menopause Prevented?
Menopause prevention is not possible, because menopause occurring at the right age should not be prevented, but symptoms can be managed without medications using the following measures:
- Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise
- Decreasing stress and anxiety and promoting overall health.
- Manage hot flashes by wearing and keeping cool
- Consume diet which is rich in vitamins and minerals to prevent osteoporosis.
- Take supplements for Vitamin D
- Avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol
- Manage sleep issues through meditation and breathing exercises
- Stay mentally active to reduce memory and focus problems