Health

Everything That A Woman Needs to Know About Menopause

Every woman experiences menopause after a certain age, which is usually between the late 40s or early 50s. Once a woman reaches menopause, she stops menstruating… Trista - June 13, 2020

Every woman experiences menopause after a certain age, which is usually between the late 40s or early 50s. Once a woman reaches menopause, she stops menstruating forever. You will know that you have reached the age when menstruation does not take place for about a year. Women experience several signs and symptoms besides the end of menstruation.

In most cases, the symptoms and the signals of the end of the menstruation cycle begin even if the period does not stop. The signs and the changes taking place in the body due to menstruation primarily result from lowered levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone that are produced in the ovaries. Some of the most typical symptoms of this phase include dryness in a woman’s private areas, hot flashes, and weight gain. The feeling of dryness in the vagina occurs due to vaginal atrophy, which can make intercourse uncomfortable as the tissues of the vagina become inflamed and thin. However, symptoms that characterize menopause are as follows.

The mucus layers of the vagina start to change as you approach menopause. Wikimedia Commons.

Lack Of Hormones And The End Of Menstruation

Your ovaries stop the production of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone that contribute to the fertility of the female body. Your periods stop for about a year. Although menopause is a natural phenomenon that takes place at a certain age, it can also happen early due to surgery, disease, or treatment, which is also called induced or surgical menopause.

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Insufficiency in the ovaries can also result in early menopause. The age of menopause can vary from woman to woman. While one woman can experience it at the age of 40, another can experience it in her late 40s or early 50s.

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The Natural Age Of Menstruation

When menopause happens naturally, it can start at the age of 50, but when it begins before a woman turns 40 years of age, it is called premature menopause. One of the determining factors of menopause is your genes. Most women do not have their periods between the age of 45 and 55.

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However, the decline in the production of female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone begins much before the actual age of menopause. Although genetic conditions result in menopause, chemotherapy, and smoking can lead to premature menopause.

You’ll begin to notice that your menstrual cycle is starting to change. Flickr.

Perimenopause And Menopause

Perimenopause is the condition of your body just before the start of menopause. During this stage, the body of every woman starts adjusting and adapting to menopause. The production of female hormones in the ovary stops at this stage, and you can begin experiencing hot flashes.

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Furthermore, your menstrual cycle becomes irregular, although it does not stop permanently until you reach menopause. Menopause starts when you stop experiencing your periods continuously for one year. No one knows the exact age when menopause will occur, so the only thing you can do is analyze the changes in your body. The symptoms of menopause tend to vary as well, and some women may not experience any sign at all.

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Symptoms Of Menopause Including Irregular Periods

Whether you experience a plethora of symptoms during menopause or no symptoms at all, your body can show some classic signs indicating that you are already on your way to reaching menopause. Read the following points to understand the manifestation of menopause. 

This is one of the most prevalent symptoms that women experience before the onset of menopause. During this stage, your periods may not occur regularly or become less frequent. Your periods may also become less heavy or stop within a couple of years. 

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Women cannot become pregnant easily during the perimenopause stage, but they may still bear children as long as periods occur, whether heavy or slow. Women undergoing chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer can also make the cycle of periods irregular. However, if you experience any instance of bleeding or spotting after menopause, you must talk to your doctor immediately.

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Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are a common symptom occurring during the perimenopause stage or when you reach the age of menopause, and your body may suddenly become warm without any reason. Similarly, you may suddenly experience sweating at night, and it can also occur when you are sleeping. Many women experience forceful and extreme sweating during sleep once they reach the age of menopause.

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The duration of hot flashes and sweating during the night can also vary. For instance, a woman can experience similar symptoms for a minute while it can prolong for another individual. Some women can continue experiencing hot flashes several times within an hour, and others experience symptoms for several decades after the period stops. However, some diseases or medications can also cause hot flashes, so if you have not yet reached the stage of menopause and are experiencing night sweats or hot flashes, consult with your doctor.

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Sleep Problems And Mood Swings

If you experience sleep problems often and face difficulty in sleeping throughout the night, you may be an insomniac. However, if you sleep well otherwise but facing difficulty in sleeping, you are probably approaching the age of menopause.

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Changes in sex hormones can also affect your mood, and several women experience mood swings at this stage. However, women may also experience symptoms such as anxiety and depression during menopause. If you have experienced similar symptoms in the past, they can deepen during this stage. If you are feeling sad and anxious for a prolonged period and are approaching the age of menopause, you need to engage in alternative activities to feel better.

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Forgetfulness And Changes In Sex Drive

Minor instances of forgetfulness can occur during middle age, but menopause can also contribute to it. During menopause, you may find trouble concentrating on your work and lose focus more frequently.

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Some women complain that their urge for intercourse changes during menopause. However, women may also feel differently when it comes to arousal before intercourse. Many women feel more relaxed and comfortable having sex after menopause as they do not have to worry about pregnancy. The skin surrounding the vagina becomes dry once a woman approaches menopause. If you want to make sex easy during menopause, applying lubricating gel on the vagina can help.

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Changes In The Body

As a woman goes through menopause, her body changes both on the inside and outside. It is very similar to when a girl goes through puberty and starts her menstrual cycle. However, the changes are not the same. Your hair may become thinner as you are nearing the age of menopause.

Image via Dermatologicum

Similarly, the skin can also become dry and dull during this stage. You will notice fat accumulation around the waist and more fat than muscles in the body. Besides this, your joints may become stiffer, and you can face trouble during movement. Therefore, women should stay active during menopause and exercise regularly to keep in shape.

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Increased Urination And Tender Breasts

You may have the urge to urinate more frequently as you reach menopause. Besides this, the feeling of soreness in the breasts is also familiar. Women may also find that their breasts are a lot more tender during menopause.

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You may also experience frequent infections in the urinary tract once your menopause starts, so you should adopt hygienic practices during urination. Women can also experience more hair growth on the face, neck, and upper back during menopause.

Osteoporosis will significantly affect your health and is a common symptom of menopause. Wikimedia Commons.

Complications of Menopause

You may experience reduced metabolic functions in the body when you approach menopause and a lack of tendency to do work. Women may also have osteoporosis when the bones become weak and have a porous structure. The strength and mass of bones and muscles can also decrease during osteoporosis. 

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You can also experience mood swings, which often become severe. Some women can suffer from periodontal disease and develop a cataract in their eyes. Urinary incontinence is also common in women during menopause. Heart disease is also common during menopause. If you notice any of these complicated symptoms during menopause, it is necessary to consult with a doctor.

Once you’re close to menopause, the ability to become pregnant also diminishes. Pixabay.

Menopause And Pregnancy

Menopause is a vital stage in the life of every woman, and many of them find it difficult to accept that it marks the end of getting pregnant as well. Therefore, women must follow childbirth plans to counter the problem at this stage.

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Even though the right age for becoming pregnant is between thirty and forty years, several working women today postpone their childbirth plans and face critical issues during childbirth. Menopause can affect the rate of fertility much before its onset. Besides this, you have to stay aware of the changes taking place in the body leading up to menopause.

Fertility rates drop as your supply of eggs starts to dwindle. Wikimedia Commons.

Facts On Pregnancy And Menopause

Women are born with a certain quantity of eggs, but once a woman reaches the stage of menopause, risks, and complications of pregnancy develop as women start aging. However, women can still get pregnant at the premenopausal stage. Women also assume that they have already reached menopause when they begin experiencing symptoms. With age, the quantity of eggs in every woman reduces, and the eggs remaining also start aging. 

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Even though irregularity of the menstrual cycle, night sweats, ovulation, and other symptoms start appearing before the onset of menopause, women can still conceive if an egg is fertilized by a sperm and released. The ability to become pregnant stops only when ovulation stops permanently. Some of the signs to detect symptoms of ovulation are tenderness in the breasts and vaginal discharge. Women can also use test strips that allow them to learn whether they are still ovulating. A few reasons why women try to get pregnant during perimenopause are complications in conception or other lifestyle changes such as a career that prevented her from getting pregnant before. During the postmenopausal stage, during which a woman is roughly in her late forties or early fifties, there is a permanent change in the balance of sex hormones that no longer allow women to get pregnant.

You and your partner could consider IVF treatment to better your chances of getting pregnant. Pixabay.

Increasing The Chance Of Conception

If you want to increase the chances of conception during the perimenopause stage, you have to consult a doctor. Even though the chances of conception reduce significantly before you reach menopause, you can still get pregnant if you pay attention to signs of ovulation and make significant changes in your lifestyle. If you figure out the signs and symptoms of ovulation, such as tenderness in the breasts and discharge from the vagina, you will increase the chances of becoming pregnant or at least try to conceive. 

Image via Office on Women’s Health

Besides this, you need to make significant changes to your lifestyle. It is essential to eat a balanced diet instead of skipping meals and ensure that your food includes all the vital nutrients. Try to consult with your doctor to know how to increase the chances of conception.  Some of the medical treatments available for increasing the chances of conception are listed below.

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In-Vitro Fertilization Or IVF Along with Reversing the Cycle

Women undergoing IVF treatment during or after menopause can conceive. Although eggs are no longer in a state to facilitate conception in the postmenopausal stage, the doctors often recommend freezing eggs earlier or accepting donor eggs to become pregnant.

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Due to increased research on modern treatments for women who want to conceive, reversing the cycle of menopause is one of the techniques. Although women are yet to receive it as a treatment, preliminary tests have shown success. 

Becoming pregnant later in life, however, does come with health risks, for both a woman and her fetus. Needpix.

Risks Of Conceiving At The Postmenopausal Stage

Despite all the treatment options available for women for conception at the postmenopausal stage, there are plenty of risks involved and the reason why doctors recommend conceiving at the right age.

Image via Lens – The New York Times

Some of the problems and risks associated with late conception are stillbirth or miscarriage, increased blood pressure resulting in preeclampsia, and detaching of the placenta from the womb. Implanting of the egg outside the uterus or ectopic pregnancy, placenta previa, abnormally low weight of the baby, reduced chances of normal birth, and premature birth are a few other risks as well.

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Menopause And Bone Health

Due to reduced levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, the calcium content in the bones can also decline, which in turn changes the density of bones, resulting in a condition known as osteoporosis. Therefore, women in menopause become susceptible to fractures of bones, especially in the spine and hip. You may also notice substantial and increased bone loss during the initial years from the date of their menstrual period. 

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To prevent loss of bones and to keep them in perfect state, you have to eat a lot of dairy products and dark green leafy vegetables, along with food containing calcium. Increase your intake of calcium and supplements of Vitamin D and exercise daily to keep your weight in control. Try to avoid alcohol and smoking to reduce the health issues you face during menopause.

The risk of heart disease also increases, as lower levels of estrogen cause the arteries to be less flexible. Pexels.

Menopause And Heart Disease

Some conditions related to your heart can arise during menopause, such as palpitations and dizziness. Reduced levels of estrogen fail to keep the arteries flexible, making it difficult for blood to flow. Eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercising, and quitting smoking are a few things you need to do to maintain the health of your heart.

Your metabolism starts to drop as well, meaning you’ll keep more weight on. Pixabay.

Weight Gain And Menopause

Gaining weight is one of the few problems several women face during menopause. You should focus on a balanced and nutritious diet instead of eating unhealthy food items. Besides this, regular exercise allows you to keep your weight in check.

Image via The Arab Hospital Magazine

Remember that increased weight can also increase the chance of developing heart disease and diabetes. You need to change your lifestyle and eat a diet rich in calcium instead of sugar. Engaging in moderate strength exercises can also help you watch your weight.

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Treatment For Menopausal Symptoms Including Changes in Mood

You may experience a multitude of symptoms during menopause. Read the following to understand the symptoms and how to deal with them.

Changes in the level of female hormones during perimenopause make women irritable and anxious. Many of you may also experience feeling blue without any apparent reason. You can try meditation and yoga, including massage and deep-breathing exercises. Apart from this, you can try techniques that help in the reduction of stress. 

Image via Medical News Today

A healthy lifestyle resonates with the easing of menopausal symptoms, and above all, you should engage in different activities during a significant part of the day. Vitamin B6 or St John’s Wort are over the counter medications used for managing the symptoms. If you are feeling depressed during menopause, you can discuss your issues with your doctor to evaluate the root cause of depression. The antidepressants that doctors prescribe also aid the treatment of hot flashes when amalgamated to psychotherapy or counseling.

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Dealing With Insomnia

If you face trouble sleeping during menopause, you have to establish a proper schedule of sleep. Unwinding the stress of the day through various activities such as reading books, watching television, and listening to good music can help.

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Try to keep the lights dim to make the ambiance comfortable for supporting sleep. Finally, you should avoid drinks containing caffeine and alcohol.

Taking hormone replacement therapy can help to deal with the symptoms, such as taking estrogen pills. Flickr.

Hormone Therapy

Although you may not require tests to determine whether you have already reached menopause, the doctor can check the level of Follicle Stimulating Hormone or FSH, and estrogen as the FSH levels increase, and estrogen levels go down during menopause. Besides this, your healthcare provider can also try to detect the level of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone as hypothyroidism can cause symptoms similar to menopause.

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Estrogen therapy is one of the most popular treatment options to get relief from hot flashes. The doctor may offer the lowest dose of hormones based on your health condition and family history. If you have not undergone a hysterectomy, you may require progestin along with estrogen. The administration of estrogen also helps in the prevention of bone loss. However, there are long-term risks of hormone therapy, which the doctor should discuss with the patient before administering a dose. 

Gabapentin can help to reduce the number of hot flashes you experience. Wikimedia Commons.

Estrogen, Gabapentin, and Clonidine

To get relief from the dryness of the vagina, a doctor administers a tablet, ring, or cream directly into the vagina for releasing small quantities of estrogen that the vaginal tissues absorb. Vaginal estrogen can ease discomfort during intercourse, dryness, and urinary problems. 

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Gabapentin is a medication that helps in the reduction of hot flashes, and clonidine is a pill or patch used for the treatment of hypertension, and also helps reduce hot flashes. The doctor can also prescribe medicines to counter the loss of bones through supplements of Vitamin D.

Image via Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center

Sexual Discomfort and Night Sweats

Changes in sexual discomfort are due to the imbalance of ovarian hormones. Your doctor can prescribe vaginal lubricants to reduce the uneasiness during sexual intercourse. However, you should only use water-based lubricants as oil-based lubricants can irritate the vaginal passage. Women can maintain vaginal health through regular sexual activities as it promotes blood supply to the genital area. 

Image via Prima

Night sweats also occur during sleep when you reach menopause. To reduce uneasiness, you can wear loose clothes and use layers in bedding that can be removed easily. To stay cool at night, you can keep a cold pack under your pillow and drink cold water. 

Image via Office on Women’s Health

Urinary Incontinence

You’ve probably watched commercials that talk about bladder leaks, and ways to deal with them on TV. When it comes to urinary incontinence, most women experience this symptom during menopause, although it is annoying and unwanted.

However, women can experience relief from this issue without going for medicines or surgery. You should try drinking an adequate amount of water to allow urine to stay diluted. Stay away from drinks and food containing acid and caffeine as they irritate the lining of the bladder. Trying Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor can reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence.

You can combat the majority of these symptoms by eating healthy and taking supplements to keep your body healthy. Pixnio.

Natural Remedies For Menopause Symptoms

Weight gain is a common feature of menopause as it creates an imbalance of female hormones as well as changes genetics and lifestyle factors. If you gain fat around the waist, it can increase the chance of heart disease. Maintaining proper weight helps in the elimination of hot flashes and night sweats.

Image via Sculpt Away

If you eat a diet containing fruits and vegetables, you can alleviate menopausal symptoms. Fruit and vegetables contain low calories and supply nutrients. They are ideal for maintaining a proper weight. Besides this, fruits and vegetables also prevent bone loss.

Image via Medical News Today

Phytoestrogen and Tackling Dryness

Phytoestrogens can replicate the impact of estrogen in the body, and they help in balancing hormones. Foods rich in phytoestrogens such as soybeans, soy products, tofu, sesame seeds, linseeds, flax seeds, and beans can reduce the extent of hot flashes and night sweats. Consuming food items rich in phytoestrogens are better than processed foods containing soybeans.

Image via Harvard Health – Harvard University

The body tends to become dry during menopause due to the declining level of estrogen in the body. You can drink about ten to twelve glasses of water every day to compensate for the dryness. Drinking water also reduces bloating due to dryness. Besides this, water can help in managing weight gain during menopause.

Image via The Independent

Trigger Foods, Skipping Meals, and Eating Refined or Packaged Foods

Trigger food items containing alcohol and caffeine along with food containing excessive spice and sugar promotes night sweats and hot flashes, so you must stay away from them to manage the symptoms of menopause.

Eating several meals is essential when you reach menopause. Women often skip meals to worsen the conditions associated with menopause and impede the efforts of weight loss as well. Eating adequate proteins in the diet can prevent the loss of lean muscles that is common during aging. Food items containing proteins can aid in weight loss as it increases the amount of burned calories.

Image via Prevention.com

Diets containing sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar making you fatigued and tired. According to studies, increased consumption of sugar in the diet causes depression. Foods containing Vitamin E can also help in preventing hot flashes and dryness in the vagina.

Image via A Womans Worth Collective

Menopause And Women

Menopause is a natural termination of the menstrual cycle with symptoms carrying from one woman to another. With age, the function of the ovary declines along with the female hormones that it produces. With a multitude of symptoms that differ for each woman, you should discuss your problems with a healthcare provider and learn more about reducing the uneasiness of the body that needs to cope with this phenomenon. 

Image via Everly Well

During the hot flashes that start with the initiation of menopause, the upper part of the body and skin becomes affected. You will find redness on the skin or blotches due to the rise in body temperature. Due to increased temperature in the body, you can also experience night sweats that wake you up during sleep. Although the symptoms of menopause vary in intensity, only a few can experience no symptoms at all.

Image via CIIA – Western Washington University

More About Going Through Menopause

The dryness in the vagina and skin are things you will find challenging to handle initially, but the moisturizing with water-based creams can improve the situation. Although some people feel that women should be rightfully happy when they stop their period, it is more heart-breaking for women to realize that they need to call it a day as the chapter of motherhood also closes with the onset of menopause. 

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Your family should also support women to move through their mood swings and help them understand that it is natural. Watching your favorite shows and movies together can minimize the symptoms. During intercourse, people should also realize the changes that occur in the body of a woman and allow her to discuss her issues freely. Couples need to approach the problem of intercourse together. Women should feel free to talk about the changes that happen during this stage. Every woman should feel that they are not the only ones to go through the symptoms of menopause after reaching a certain age.

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Key Aspects to Remember

The transition of body and mind during menopause signals a natural decline in the production of follicular estrogen. Gradually, the menstrual cycles recede, and amenorrhea begins. When the production of estrogen diminishes, menstrual bleeding stops, and menopause occurs. On average, women between the ages of 44 and 51 can experience menopause, although surgery, medicine, and treatments can bring menopause earlier. The age of natural menopause is approximately 51, and premature menopause sets in before 50 years. 

Image via Silicone Official

When it comes to treatment for the symptoms of menopause, women can resort to hormonal therapy or use non-hormonal substances to find relief. There are a few strategies for making your sex life better and smoother after menopause, which includes engaging in painless sexual activity regularly. If you undergo surgery such as hysterectomy for removal of the uterus, you may experience menopause earlier than usual. Besides this, treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy can also reduce the number of sex hormones.

Image via Freepik

Get Ready for Menopause

Contrary to what women think, menopause is not a disease. Therefore, you should see a doctor immediately to start experiencing changes in the body and feel emotionally weak. The doctor can ask simple questions and prescribe tests to detect the level of estrogen and progesterone in the body. However, the result of the test is inconclusive and indicates that menopause has set in. If you do not experience vaginal periods for over a year, it indicates menopause. You can discuss the physiological and emotional changes with the doctor and learn more about the requirement of hormone replacement therapy and other medications that can ease the symptoms.

Image via Freepik

Menopause can also affect the relationship and disturb your concentration level at home and workplace. You can also feel disturbed when children start moving away and spending their lives differently. Therefore, menopause marks significant changes in the life of every woman. You have to live an active and healthy life to counter the symptoms of menopause. Changing your lifestyle and eating a diet rich in nutrients can prevent the uneasiness that occurs due to the signs. If you are confident and accept this phenomenon naturally, you are less likely to experience symptoms. Ideally, it should mark a new era in your life and make you free from the discomfort you experienced for years. All that you need to monitor is an increase in weight, and life should step into another beginning that makes you feel proud as a woman.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/menopause-information#1 

https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-facts 

https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/understanding-menopause-symptoms#2 

https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320228#can-you-get-pregnant-during-or-after-menopause 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-natural-menopause-tips 

https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/five-solutions-for-menopause-symptoms 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353401 

https://www.healthline.com/health/8-things-every-woman-wants-men-to-know-about-menopause#11 

https://www.medanta.org/patient-education-blog/10-things-women-should-know-about-menopause/ 

https://www.myvmc.com/featured-womens-health-centre/menopause-overview/ 

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