Everything in life changes. Probably the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. Life is a constant change. Everyone has to adapt to these changes in order to live. Some changes may not be favorable and can throw people into depression. Other changes are welcomed opportunities and can uplift our spirits. Still, there are changes that are only unique to women.
Menopause is a change a woman usually expects to experience when she reaches the age 40 and above. Menopause occurs when the ovarian function starts to decline. Accordingly, estrogen level also decreases. The decrease in estrogen level creates various irregularities in a woman’s menstrual cycle. With the decrease in estrogen level comes also the declining amount and duration of the menstrual flow. Spotting, episodes of amenorrhea or lack of menstrual periods and abnormally frequent menstruations, or polymenorrhea, are also characteristic signs of a decreased ovarian function. It has been observed that these irregularities can last between a few months to several years before the actual cessation of menstruation occurs.
A woman may not know it, but there are a lot of changes she undergoes during and after menopause. Her body’s system may experience various changes, which usually occur after the complete cessation of menstruation. During menopause, a woman’s reproductive system undergoes changes; including the shrinkage of the vulval structures and the loss of some subcutaneous fats. Menopause also causes flattening of the vaginal rugae. These changes are usually the reasons why women experience bleeding after sexual contact or douching. Furthermore, changes in the reproductive system after menopause cause vaginal itching, discharge from bacterial invasion and capillary loss in the atrophied vaginal walls. Vaginal dryness and decreased lubrication from the vaginal walls are also caused by menopause. Additionally, the declining level of estrogen during menopause results in progressive pelvic relaxation.
During menopause, the urinary system also undergoes a lot of changes. The declining estrogen level causes atrophic cystitis. This condition results in frequent urination, pyuria or the presence of pus in urine and incontinence. Menopause can also cause a change in the mammary system resulting in a reduced size of a woman’s breasts. Menopause can also affect the integumentary system. The integumentary system is the system in our body consisting of the skin, hair and nails; all of which protects our body from the external environment. Estrogen deprivation during menopause results in the loss of skin elasticity, loss of pubic and axillary hair and can sometimes even cause alopecia. Menopause can also cause changes in a woman’s autonomic nervous system. The changes in the autonomic nervous system are the reasons why a woman under menopause experiences hot flashes and night sweats. These are occurrences that affect almost 60% of all women in menopause. The changes in a woman’s autonomic nervous system are the reasons why menopausal women experience vertigo, rapid heart beat or tachycardia, shortness of breath and irritability. Emotional disturbances are also classic signs of women in menopause. These emotional disturbances include nervousness, irritability and bouts of anger. All these are also caused by autonomic nervous system changes during menopause. Menopause can also stimulate osteoporosis and atherosclerosis. The decrease in estrogen level during menopause has been linked to osteoporosis. However, its effect has not been clearly indicated with atherosclerosis.
Finally, all these changes a woman experiences during menopause can affect how she looks at life during and after menopause. Positively accepting these changes will give her a new and exciting life ahead, after menopause.