As women, we will experience many changes in the course of our lives. Our appearance will change, our hair will change, and our bodies will change. Most of us will get our periods, and some of us will have babies. But all of us will go through menopause. Menopause or The Change, as I always hear it called, always frightened me as I watched my grandmother’s and my mother experience a lot of changes.
Likely for you and I decades of research have helped us better understand menopause, its symptoms, and how to treat them. Menopause is the transition when a woman stops menstruation and loses the ability to get pregnant. It is a period of shift where many women feel the comfort of forgetting cramps, pain, and mood swings.
What is the menopausal transition?
The period between a woman’s reproductive (childbearing) years and menopause is known as the menopausal transition (perimenopause).
If a woman hasn’t had a menstrual cycle in a year, she is said to be in menopause. The ovaries stop producing hormones after a woman reaches menopause, and loses her capacity to conceive.
The menopausal transition can last between 7 and 14 years. During this time, the body absorbs less estrogen and progesterone hormones. As a result, your bones become less compact, creating the vulnerability of more fractures.
The fat cells change, and the body consumes less energy. So, women who are going through menopausal transition gain weight easily. For this reason, doctors suggest middle-aged women drink more water and exercise regularly.
So what triggers menopause?
The reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone, which controls menstrual periods, naturally decrease over time. Menopause can also result from a complete hysterectomy (surgical removal of ovaries and uterus), chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and underlying conditions. And, unless you undergo hormone therapy, you’ll not have periods.
So what are the most common and uncommon symptoms?
Experiencing irregular period cycles – or a sudden stop for months – are the most common symptoms of menopause. So, if it’s happening to you, it means your body is going through a change. But there is nothing to worry about, as doctors believe menstrual pause is a natural process that takes place between 45 and 55 years of age.
You may suffer from:
- Reduced libido
- Vaginal dryness and or Pain during sex
- Weight gain
- Joint Pain
- Mood swings
- Hot flushes
- Less sleep
- Racing Heart
In addition, lack of concentration at work, decreased memory and night sweats are other warning signs women encounter. Sudden stop of the period may have some alterations in the body. Women are more exposed to heart diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancers. In addition, some women are diagnosed with some uncommon illnesses, such as dementia and depression.
Menopause is associated with many symptoms. Many women complain of a general feeling of unease, claiming they do not feel like themselves, but did you know that signs of menopause can mimic other diseases? Let’s take a look!
Various factors cause menstrual abnormalities, not only menopause. Irregular periods could be a sign of something else. They can also be associated with stress, side effects of certain medications, weight gain or loss, and other illnesses. Women who have noticed a change in their menstrual cycle or feel unwell should go to their OB / GYN or family doctor for a check-up. .
Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause. This traditional menopausal symptom could indicate your estrogen levels are declining, but it could also indicate your thyroid gland is malfunctioning. Hot flashes, like menopause, are a common sign of hyperthyroid illness. Hyperthyroidism can also cause hot flashes and excessive sweating (an overactive thyroid).
Hyperthyroidism can also cause symptoms like hair loss, and irregular periods.
Weight gain in menopausal women is typically a sign your metabolism is decreasing and you do not get enough exercise. The hormonal changes in menopause can cause you to gain weight around your midsection. However, Thyroid disease, diabetes and other adrenal problems could also lead to weight gain.
Your body and brain may undergo many changes, as your ovaries produce less estrogen. Some of these changes are linked to your mood. Estrogen helps regulate various hormones, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which have mood-enhancing qualities. Estrogen also helps maintain certain aspects of brain function, such as cognition.
When estrogen levels fluctuate, your mood can also fluctuate. Due to the decline in estrogen, some women may experience periodic moments of forgetfulness, which can lead to frustration and negatively affect mood. However, irregular emotions can also be caused by anxiety, depression, diabetes, and other illnesses.
As you get older, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) become more common. However, cardiovascular disease also has symptoms that overlap with menopause, including hot flashes, which can indicate an irregular heartbeat, and fatigue, which could be a sign of partial blockage in the coronary artery. Talk to your doctor if your heart is racing or missing beats and you have no hot flash.
Joint discomfort affects up to half of all women during menopause. It is unclear whether low estrogen levels cause joint discomfort, but studies show estrogen replacement drugs can help.
Arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and Lyme disease can also cause your joint pain. If chronic pain makes daily life difficult, consult your doctor.
Vaginal dryness and or pain during sex:
The most common cause of painful sex in midlife and beyond is vaginal dryness and thinning (vaginal atrophy) caused by the drop in estrogen around menopause. Less estrogen results in less vaginal lubrication and a less stretchy vagina. However, uterine cancer can be misdiagnosed as menopause. Symptoms of both conditions include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during intercourse, and pelvic pain.
So daughters, when it’s your time to experience menopause, remember, menopause is a natural component of growing older. It’s critical to keep informed about the signs and symptoms, as well as what to expect. Consult your healthcare provider, who can help you determine the most effective and safe path forward for you.