What is Menopause?
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s ability to produce life. It is a normal milestone that inevitably brings changes to a woman’s body before or after their menstrual cycle stops. Though, many studies have already been conducted, most women still do not have a good understanding of what changes they will experience.
Menopause normally happens to women at their 40s, but there are those who may experience it prematurely as due to medication, surgery, hypothyroidism, Down Syndrome, enzyme deficiencies, or chemotherapy. In colder places like Alaska, women may experience menopause on their 50s. Hereditary factors may also affect a woman’s menstrual cycle. Natural menopause, however, is a gradual process that is divided into three phases; the perimenopause, menopause, and the postmenopause.
What are the Stages of Menopause?
Perimenopause is the stage where women gradually produce fewer estrogen and progesterone hormones. Limited production of these hormones brings many observable changes in a woman’s body. It usually starts in the late 40s or early 50s. It lasts until menopause stage, and the average duration can be four to ten years.
Irregular periods are common during perimenopause, but women still have greater chance of becoming pregnant. Nonetheless, menstruation can be heavier than usual with occasions of blood clots, and periods may even last longer or may occur twice in a month. Women may recognize perimenopause when they begin to experience fatigue, vaginal dryness, night sweats, anemia, decreased sex drive, or urinary tract infection.
Menopause is the phase where menstruation periods stop for a year. It is when the ovaries cease to produce eggs. It can start in the early 50s or late 60s. Furthermore, menopause can affect the production of female hormones such as serotonin or happy hormones, which causes women to have frequent mood swings, hot flashes, depression, and irritability. Levels of estrogen are also lowered, which can affect women’s bone health. Risk of developing heart disease is also evident.
Postmenopause is the last stage pointing to the years after menopause. Physicians may confirm this through a blood test where follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) are measured. These hormones increase as the ovary begins to shut down. Women may begin to experience relief and regain their energy, but are at higher risk for certain diseases, such as cervical and breast cancer. Symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia may continue.
Continuous dropping of estrogen levels may create health issues during postmenopause. Women may notice that their skin gets thinner and dryer. Urinary tract infection is also inevitable as the vaginal lining and urinary tract weaken. Tooth loss and gingivitis may also be experienced.
In severe cases, women may also experience bleeding after postmenopause, and cases of polyp growth and benign or malignant ovarian neoplasm may be observed. This is mainly why it is important that women experiencing postmenopause go to see their physician and gynecologist as often as possible.
What is the Treatment for Menopause?
There is no specific medical treatment for menopause because it is a natural occurrence that happens to all women. Instead, physicians and other medical practitioners aim to alleviate symptoms brought about by the changes. Treatments may depend on how much pain and discomfort is experienced.
Hormone-replacement therapy is seen as one of the most effective treatments for menopause. It aims to replace, if not increase, the hormones that are no longer produced by the body. This treatment may decrease instances of hot flashes, irritability, and night sweats. Pain during sex as well as dysfunction of the bladder may also be improved. Bone loss and risk of cardiovascular disease are also reduced.
However, hormone-replacement therapy may also bring a few downsides. Studies show the risk of women developing hypertension, blood clots, stroke, liver dysfunction, migraines, and even cancers, such as breast and endometrial.
Though medication cannot prevent menopause, there are certain drugs that can alleviate pain and symptoms. Low-dose oral contraceptives, such as Loestrin and Mircette are often prescribed to relieve hot flashes and control heavy menstrual flow. Antidepressants are also ideal to reduce mood swings and irritability.
What are Natural Remedies for Menopause?
Because of the side effects of medicinal treatments to menopause, more and more women today turn to holistic and alternative treatments, which have been proven effective. A few of the recommended treatments are healthy diet, exercise like yoga, drinking 8 to 12 glasses of water a day, and taking vitamin supplements.
Nutrition Response Testing is another alternative remedy effective for menopause. This natural remedy for menopause helps determine if any internal organs are not functioning properly. A custom, and holistic remedy can be created to put the body back in balance.
Menopause is not an ailment to be feared, but a condition that requires knowledge and understanding. Luckily, women today have many options to address these changes that they may experience, which can affect their lives.