Menopause comes from the Greek word, ‘menos,’ meaning month. So, when your monthly period stops – for a long time – its menopause.
The phase known as perimenopause is what most women refer to as “in menopause.” Perimenopause is the period preceding menopause, defined as a period of 12 months without menstruation.
Women start perimenopause at various ages, but most begin in their mid-40s, with 51 being the typical age at which they reach menopause.
Periods can be longer – or shorter. Yet, if you’ve had no period in 12 consecutive months, you could be in menopause. But you can’t be certain about it, as there are other reasons your period can stop coming.
Is it Menopause or not?
There are several other conditions that can stop your period.
Here are some common reasons:
Stress may play a role in irregular or skipped periods in certain women. Your menstrual cycle may cease briefly if your stress levels rise, a condition known as secondary amenorrhea.
- Poor diet
Your periods may cease if you eat too few calories, which is common with weight-loss programs or eating disorders like anorexia.
- Excessive or Insufficient weight
Weight loss and weight gain can both cause periods to stop, as can intense exercise over an extended period. Each month, your menstrual cycle is triggered by a complex sequence of hormonal changes. Weight loss that is sudden and continuous can disturb these processes, causing periods to halt. Likewise, with excessive weight gain.
Here are some medical reasons:
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
A prevalent hormonal condition that affects women during their reproductive years and affects their ovaries. Hence, the menstrual cycle becomes erratic.
- Ovarian Cysts
In or on the surface of the ovary, there are fluid-filled sacs or pockets. They are normally painless and have no symptoms, but if the cysts rupture, they might create problems.
- High levels of Androgen
Androgens are hormones that aid male and female growth and reproduction. Androgens are typically associated with male hormones, but the female body generates a limited quantity of them.
- Thyroid Issues
In your neck, there is a butterfly-shaped gland known as the thyroid. The duty of this organ is to produce thyroid hormone. It helps control your menstrual cycle too. So when you have thyroid disease, your period can stop for a long time.
- Prolonged illnesses
Diseases that take a long time to cure may require heavy medications. In addition, these diseases directly affect your reproductive organ.
Some illnesses linked to reproductive complications are:
- Autoimmune diseases
The Role of Hormone in Menopause
Hormones are natural chemicals produced inside your body. It supports various factors, including growth, energy, sexual function, reproduction, etc.
There are basically three hormones that play a role in menopause:
These hormones play a role in maintaining your period. If there is a sudden drop in hormone levels, you may enter menopause.
However, you can go through early menopause if you have faced these problems:
- Reaction to surgical response
Hormone changes are common, and diagnosing menopause based on hormone levels is difficult.
Menopause is confirmed by the cessation of menstrual cycles for a year. In rare cases, your doctor may order blood testing.
The best way to confirm whether you are in menopause is to seek a doctor’s advice. Your doctor can confirm the following symptoms with you.
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Dry vagina
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbance
- Loss of sex drive
Your healthcare practitioner can test the pH levels of your vaginal using a swab, which can also help confirm menopause.
During your reproductive years, the pH of your vaginal fluid is around 4.5. The pH of the vaginal fluid rises to a balance of 6 during menopause.
If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms, your doctor may request other testing to rule out other issues, including ovarian failure or a thyroid problem.
These tests may involve the following:
- A blood test to determine your estrogen and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels
- A thyroid function test
- A lipid profile is a test that looks at how well your liver and kidneys work.
If this is menopause, work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan for your symptoms. In some cases, you may deal with symptoms by changing your lifestyle.
I’ve talked to countless women who have gone through menopause smoothly. As for me, I’m in the early stages of menopause. Initially, during the perimenopausal phase, I encountered some roadblocks and was confused. It took a while to realize that my hormonal system was not in harmony, so I had to make some lifestyle changes. I feel so much better now and hope to encourage you when it’s your turn. I plan to do a series of articles on menopause, so please be on the lookout for more information. Have you gone through menopause or are you going through now? Please share and comment.