Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life. It be can be a difficult time for many women since it involves not only adjusting to the psychological fact of losing fertility but also coping with physical symptoms caused by hormonal changes, which can be unpleasant. In the past, the “change of life” was dreaded as the beginning of a steady decline. Now, however, women view menopause more positively, and with self-help and medical care, they can expect an easier passage to a new and fulfilling life.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is not an illness but the cessation of regular menstrual periods characterizes menopause. The ovaries become resistant to instructions from the pituitary and stop maturing eggs that have been present them since birth. The end of menstruation can occur at any time between the ages of 36 and 56, thought median age seems to be 48. There is no truth in the old wives’ tale of early puberty/late menopause and late puberty/early menopause. Sometimes menstruation stops abruptly. More commonly, however, a few months of irregular bleeding are followed by normal losses, then a few more months of irregular bleeding until bleeding ceases altogether.
Women might also complain of other symptoms including irritating dryness of the nasal mucous membrane, headache, palpitations, dizziness, weight gain, abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen ankles, and loss of memory and concentration. Symptoms should not be endured – seek advice from your doctor or gynaecologist.
Problems Of Menopause
Women suffer menopausal problems to different degrees. The major physical symptoms are hot flashes and sweats and loss of lubrication in the vagina, which are believed to be caused by low estrogen levels.
Hot flashes can occur frequently or infrequently either during the day or night. A feeling of intense heat lasting several seconds or minutes suddenly spreads over the upper part of the whole body and sometimes causes a reaction similar to blushing as well as sweating. Night sweats often cause insomnia, a reason in itself for exhaustion, irritability, and depression during waking hours. Some women never have them, others have them for years, but most experience them spasmodically for a few months.
One of the most troublesome symptoms for sexually active women is the loss of lubrication of the vagina caused by reduced estrogen levels. The lining of the vagina also becomes thinner, which may make intercourse uncomfortable. It may also make a woman vulnerable to vaginal and urethral infections.
Reassessing The Lifestyle During Menopause
Emotionally, menopause is a highly charged time and some women find it difficult to separate physical from emotional symptoms. The end of childbearing can be traumatic for those who equate worth with motherhood, particularly if menopause coincides with the time when children start to leave home. Many women believe that menopause signals the end of their sex lives; most find this time reassessment painful and disquieting. The stress of midlife problems can lead to depression as a woman struggles to achieve a new role and meaning in life. If sever, this needs expert treatment.
Yet the “change” can be a change for the good. Positive rethinking is crucial to “life after youth.” With the burdens of menstruation and fear of an unwanted pregnancy lifted, women should search for new interests, work, and continue to enjoy a full sex life.
Facts: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- Suitable only for women with a clean bill of health
- Those found suitable are given estrogen and/or progesterone in pill form, by implant, or injection.
- Estrogen creams can be applied locally for dry vagina or dry nasal mucous membrane.
- HRT helps to relieve hot flashes, night sweats, dry vagina, and osteoporosis.
- Treatment is given for three years or longer, and is also used to counteract the effects of aging.
- Some studies suggest the HRT might lead to cancer of the breast and uterus, heart disease, and gallstones, but these might merely be signs of aging.