Remember your mother complaining of excessive sweating and hot flushes? And do you also remember the mood swings she goes through or may have gone through in past? Ever wondered why is she complaining? Maybe its menopause!! Let’s not be silent on it but on the other hand try to gain as much knowledge so that in future we can understand and help a woman during menopause.
Change is the only permanent thing and so is menopause
There are tremendous midlife changes through which almost everyone passes. One of them is called ‘menopause’. Women have been silent on this topic erstwhile, but now it is gaining momentum not only among middle aged but also among young women and men. Menopause is a phase through which every woman has to pass; therefore it is indispensible for everyone including her husband and young children to know about it.
In simple words menopause refers to that time in every woman’s life when her periods stop and her ovaries lose their reproductive function. Most commonly it happens between ages 45 and 55. This process does not occur all of a sudden as it is a gradual process. Each woman goes through a transitional period or a perimenopausal phase. This transition may take years. It is the time when ovaries stop producing oestrogen as their store of eggs decreases with age. So, finally when there are no periods occurring for 12 months after your last menstrual period, it marks menopause. It is a natural biological process which tends to end fertility but one can stay healthy and sexually active.
How you react to menopause?
Depending upon the stage of life, it is seen that different women react differently. Age, want for more children, previous health condition, importance of personal identity, sexual activeness can affect one’s reaction to menopause. In some cases, women tend to take it as freedom from fear of being pregnant.
How does it feel? Menopause Symptoms
Visible symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flushes :Sudden brief periodic increase in body temperature
- Night sweats: Sudden perspiration at night
- Erratic hair growth: Thinning of scalp hair , thickening of facial hair
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex due to thinning of vaginal tissue
- Sleep difficulties or insomnia
- Mood swings ,anxiety, stress, nervousness, anger
- Reduced sex drive (libido)
- Loss of concentration
There are some ‘invisible’ consequences of menopause due to decline in production of oestrogen. This hormonal decline also leads to bone thinning due to accelerated loss of calcium from the bones and weakening of bones thus resulting in easy fractures.
Can it happen so early?
Average age of reaching menopause is 51. There are a few exceptional cases, where menopause occurs before 40s. This may be due to premature ovarian insufficiency. These cases are known as to be ‘premature’ menopause.
Menopause can also happen earlier than usual like in women who have received treatment for cancer because chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapies can all interfere with hormone levels. Also, surgical removal of ovaries for any reason will also cause Surgical menopause
Should I seek medical opinion?
Menopause is a normal phase and not a disease. One should definitely seek medical opinion in case the symptoms are interfering with your daily life or these symptoms have started to occur before age of 45. I should also seek counselling if required on how to go about lifestyle modification so as to combat bothering of symptoms.
Not going into details, I suggest some easy steps like keeping the room temperature cool, yoga, cessation to smoke, maintaining healthy diet, avoiding spicy food, using cotton lingerie, drinking lots of water, reading a light hearted book can go a long way combating the symptoms.