Menopause - Everything You Need to Know
3 Stages of Menopause – What Every Woman Should Know
Menopause is not selective and neither does it discriminate against a certain culture or region. The condition happens to every woman. What varies with every case is the timing and the symptoms intensity. Some ladies can have premature menopause due to some complications or genes. Others can have early menopause due to various reasons, while other cases can happen in their prime average age.
One menopause case can vary from the other. Different chemical and hormonal reactions can cause various menopause symptoms. Despite the mixed responses, menopause is universal and it happens to all women in the world.
Menopause is an age-related condition. Most women would wish to hide the fact that they are in menopause age due to age-related stigma. Menopause can cause 'chaotic' body reactions due to estrogen decline that gives every woman a different story to tell.
Read on to find out more....What is Menopause?
Menopause is a woman's aging condition that happens when the reproductive period comes to an end. It is a natural occurrence for every woman. Menopause covers the period towards the end of the reproductive stage, which is marked by the end of menstruation. The menopause period can continue long after the end of menstruation.What Are the Stages of Menopause?
There are three stages of menopause in a woman's life which are:Perimenopause
Perimenopause is a transition period towards menopause which can start sometime long before menopause. Perimenopause period can start around the age of 40 or due to genetic factor, earlier than 30 years. Perimenopause continues for up to about four years to transit to menopause stage.
At perimenopause, when your body is getting ready to enter into menopause, your menstrual cycle changes drastically to an extended menstrual period, heavy bleeding, and a shorter cycle.
Towards the end of perimenopause period, at about a year to menopause, the hormone estrogen level can be erratic. It can sharply drop or rise. The perimenopause symptoms begin when the estrogen hormone level declines.What Are the Symptoms of Perimenopause?
During your perimenopause period, you may experience some symptoms similar to menopause symptoms such as:
- Hot flashes
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal dryness
- Perimenopause nausea
- Irregular perimenopause periods with severe premenstrual syndrome
- Changes in sexual functions
After perimenopause, the next center stage of the menopause period is the menopause stage.
Usually, menopause starts at the age of 51 or 52 years. Menopause stage lasts up to the 12th month since your last period. From there, you enter the postmenopause stage. The 12 months of menstrual period cessation should confirm your menopausal stage. From perimenopause to menopause and on to postmenopause, the transition can take about 2 to 3 years. Menopause is a stage when your ovaries have stopped producing estrogen hormones. At this stage, you are no longer releasing eggs for fertilization.What Are the Common Symptoms of Menopause Stage?
Menopausal stage can cause many symptoms. Some of the common menopause symptoms at this stage are:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleeping problem
- Low sexual desire
The last period of the three stages of menopause is postmenopause. The period begins a year or the 12th month after your last period. A woman at postmenopause stage is referred to as postmenopausal.
At this stage, the postmenopausal woman is beyond reproductive period. The ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and the menstrual period has stopped entirely. If you notice some blood at this stage, know that it is not menstrual period. Be warned of a dire health condition which your health practitioner should check urgently.
Remember, at perimenopause period and during the last one or two years, estrogen hormone drops drastically. Other hormones affected by age-related distractions are progesterone and testosterone. Testosterone is men hormone which is also produced in women but at a lower level than other hormones.What Are the Symptoms at Postmenopause Stage?
The main symptoms at postmenopause stage are the following:
- Hot flashes
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood Swings
- Urinary incontinence
- Low concentration
- Bone loss
What is the Cause of Menopause?
The causes vary with the two types of menopause, natural or premature menopause.Natural Menopause
A woman experiences menopause as she ages. Menopause is a natural condition that happens to every woman. As a woman ages, the body goes through various changes due to natural body chemistry and hormonal changes.
Other causes of natural menopause are due to ovaries stopping to release eggs; menstrual periods cease, and the level of the hormone estrogen, the primary sex hormone in a woman, drops.Premature
Menopause can occur before the right age of around 40 years. When you experience early symptoms at your 30's or at an earlier age, you might be experiencing the onset of premature menopause which is not natural. Various reasons can induce premature menopause.What is The Cause of Premature Menopause?
Genetics is one of the main reasons for premature menopause. When all others have been ruled out through tests/examinations, the likely cause can be genetic. If your mother had an early menopause, then you are at a high risk of the same type of menopause. If you have a concern you might want to have your DNA tested and we can then discuss your next course of action.Oophorectomy
Oophorectomy is the procedure of removing ovaries. Ovaries are the main source of estrogen and progesterone hormones, the two sex hormones in a woman. The removal of single or both ovaries would cause premature menopause due to low estrogen and progesterone hormones.Chemotherapy
One of the effects of chemotherapy in women is premature menopause, also known as "chemotherapy-induced premature menopause" due to irreversible damage to ovarian tissue. The damage can cause an ovarian failure which then affects estrogen and progesterone hormone production.Autoimmune Disease
The immune system can start attacking healthy body tissues such as ovary tissues. Such an attack can cause ovarian failure which may affect estrogen and progesterone production.Chromosome Abnormalities
Some chromosomal abnormalities such as Turner syndrome and Fragile X syndrome can cause ovary dysfunction, which if not treated, can lead to premature menopause.Lifestyles
What Are The Complications of Menopause?
Menopause can cause various health or medical complications besides the common symptoms. Some of the complications include:Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone disease which weakens bones and makes them brittle. Lack of enough estrogen in a woman causes osteoporosis. When the bones weaken, they become risky of getting a fracture. Women with osteoporosis can get hips, spine, and wrist fractures.Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Loss
Estrogen is essential in protecting the brain from aging. The decline of estrogen during perimenopause could be the onset of memory loss.
The role of estrogen hormone to the brain is regulating brain chemicals and the nervous system. The hormone regulates brain metabolism and hence brain energy. The hormone also prevents proteins or plaques in the brain. Low estrogen could be the onset of memory loss or Alzheimer's disease.Mental Health
Chronic anxiety, depression, and distress cases are prevalent in the perimenopause stage. The declining estrogen hormone in the perimenopause stage can impact your mental health negatively. Low estrogen can also lead to mood swings and irritability almost similar to premenstrual syndrome.Cardiovascular Disease (Heart and Blood Vessel)
A decline in estrogen can lead to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is common with aged people which is prevalent in old-age deaths. Estrogen hormone contributes to the functioning of the blood vessels to help them expand and relax for ease and increase of blood flow.
Men also are at risk of cardiovascular disease due to a decline of androgen hormone in old age.Urinary Incontinence (UI)
Urinary incontinence is unintentional loss of urine. It's a condition more common in women than in men. One of the causes of urinary incontinence is menopause. Hormonal changes during menopause loosens urethra and vaginal elasticity.
The effect can cause frequent and urgent urges for urination. The loss of elasticity can then lead to involuntary urine loss, such as when coughing or laughing.Sexual Dysfunction
Loss of sex hormones, estrogen, and testosterone during menopause lead to body changes which can affect your sexual drive. Women are not easily aroused sexually during the menopause period and hence leading to disinterest in sex.
Vaginal dryness due to less vaginal moisture and elasticity can lead to painful sex and hence sexual discomfort.Menopause and Weight Gain
You can experience weight gain during menopause due to body changes. Metabolism slows down leading to weight gain. Despite often feeling fatigued during menopause, you must assist your body's metabolism by exercising regularly. A healthy walk if you can't jog or simple aerobics can work better with your case. Remember to eat less when in your menopause period.
What is the Treatment for Menopause?
Menopause is not a disease and, therefore, you can only treat it to reduce the effects of the symptoms. There are various treatments for menopause symptoms.
Visit your doctor for conventional treatment. Alternatively your natural therapist can advise you what to use or what to do for natural treatment.
Some of the treatments are:
For Cramping… FCS-11 - For the relief of menstrual pain or cramps
Balancing Hormones … Women's Formula - For the relief of menopausal and premenstrual symptoms
Hot Flashes … F.E. Formula-Short for Flash Ease, is a traditional herbal formula to support a woman during the change of life
Sluffs The Ovum …Fo-Ti Extract - Helps female functions involving ovulation and corpus luteum (material around ovum) formation and is something you can only get from our office.
NaturalPhyto Progesterone … Wild Yam/Chaste Tree -a hormone normalizer to help stabilize menstrual cycle irregularities
Is Menopause Dangerous?
Yes, it can be dangerous as menopausal transition brings about various body changes, which can lead to severe health issues due to estrogen levels declining. Some of the diseases can be fatal, while others are manageable. Diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disorders, or dementia are likely to occur at postmenopause.
If you fail to handle your menopause seriously, it can be dangerous. Visit your health practitioner for health care and advice whenever your situation is out of hand and rescue yourself before it gets fatal.Will I Feel Better After Menopause?
Yes, during your postmenopause, you are free of menopause symptoms. However, it is not time to sit and relax. You have to take care of yourself to ward off some age-related diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Every postmenopausal woman is at risk of these two life-threatening diseases.
To lead a healthy life during your menopause period, adapt the following lifestyle habits:
- Proper care
- A low-fat and low-salt diet
- A routine medical checkup
- Highly nutritional food as directed by your nutritionist
Such healthy habits can make your postmenopausal years enjoyable and happy ones.Can Menopause Change Your Personality?
During menopause, there is a significant estrogen hormone decline. Low estrogen level drastically changes your body's activities. Some of the changes you may experience during your menopause period are mood swings, irritability, fatigue, low concentration, and anxiety. Such are the symptoms that can affect and change your personality. You must not allow the symptoms to alter your character. Protect your relationship with everyone around you.Conclusion
Menopause is a must to every woman whether it comes to you as a premature menopause or natural menopause. There are a myriad of symptoms that come with menopause which you may or may not experience all of them.
Every woman experiences menopause differently. Some women go through the menopausal period without much ado except for light and few symptoms. If you are not lucky, you may experience severe symptoms during your menopause period.
Some symptoms such as mood changes and irritability can strain relationships. To avoid life and relationship changes, you should share your concerns with your family members or your spouse.
Whether you are going through unbearable menopause period or yours is a light one, take care of yourself. Eat healthily and avoid some lifestyle that can deteriorate your health, such as smoking and excessive use of alcohol. It is always good to add an exercise program at least 3 times a week. Start off with a light workout so as not to overdo it.
Consult your health practitioner to ease and manage the symptoms when they are unbearable.
Your health is in your hands. No one can handle it better than you.
Take care of your health, it's your wealth!
What is your menopause or your loved one's experience? Share with us as we would love to hear from you.
Editor: Yvonne Dollard Perc
Research Assistant: Elizabeth Njuguna
Designer: Sherry Robb