WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?
Menopause is a NORMAL phase in a women’s life, which marks the final cessation of menstrual periods and the end of the reproductive phase. All women go through menopause around 40 to 55 years of age. During this time, women undergo many physical and psychological changes due to changes in hormonal levels.
Menopause can be Natural or Medically induced by surgery.
Menopause can also occur earlier than usual in women who have never been pregnant, who smoke regularly or have a serious illness or suffered from cancer requiring chemotherapy.
This stage starts 3-5 years before the last menstrual period and ends about a year after the final period. Some signs and symptoms may appear during perimenopause.
COMMON MENOPAUSE AND PERIMENOPAUSAL PROBLEMS
Good knowledge of the problems of menopause and how to cope with them will help in a smooth transition.
CHANGES IN THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
One of the first signs of menopause is the change in your periods. They may become irregular or scanty. Periods of heavy bleeding are normal too. Heavy bleeding lasting for many days, a gap between two periods of less than 3 weeks, periods lasting more than 10 days or spotting between periods can also happen.
Consult your doctor
HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT SWEATS
These are very common in the perimenopausal period. Suddenly you feel the heat in the body. Your face and neck become flushed. Red blotches may appear. Profuse sweating, palpitation, and chills may follow. It can upset you in the middle of the night. Most flashes may last 30 seconds to 5 minutes. They usually go away a few years after menopause.
- Sleep in a cool, well-ventilated room
- Wear light clothing made of natural fibers
- Use sheets and clothing that allow your skin to breathe
- Keep a record of the factors that trigger a hot flash. Take some cold drinks of water or juice
REDUCED SEX DRIVE
Hormonal changes and dryness of the vagina make intercourse painful. You are more prone to vaginal infections. Interest in intercourse may decline and you may have trouble being sexually aroused.
On the other hand, the absence of fear of pregnancy may make you feel more free and relaxed in sexual life. Even after menopause one can get sexually transmitted diseases including HIV / AIDS.
- Vaginal lubricants can make intercourse less painful.
- Until one year after the last period, use contraception to avoid pregnancy.
Anxieties, difficulty in concentrating, overreacting to minor upsets, quickly getting irritated, forgetfulness and mood swings are common. Depression or mood swings can be due to hormonal changes, other stress or family problems. Having sleep disturbances can further complicate the matter.
- Practice of Meditation, Pranayam and other Yogic asanas.
- Regular exercise.
SLEEP PROBLEMS AND FATIGUE
During menopause, insomnia or disturbed sleep including difficulty to fall asleep or awakening during the night may be experienced. This can lead to tiredness during the day. Night sweats or frequent urination at night can also disturb sleep.
- If you have not slept well at night, take a nap during the day.
- Avoid the intake of stimulating drinks, caffeine, and smoking.
- Focus on balanced nutrition.
- Practice Yoga.
- Regular exercise.
The chance of involuntary leakage or inability to hold the urge of urination increases with age, particularly if some chronic illnesses or urinary infections are present. Exercise, coughing, laughing, lifting heavy objects or similar movements increase abdominal pressure and may cause small amounts of urine to leak.
- Regular exercise can strengthen and tone up the muscles.
- Bladder training is a simple and effective treatment for these symptoms.
- Consult your doctor.
CHANGES IN THE BODY
- Weight gain
- Loss of muscle mass and increase of fats in the waist area
- Osteoporosis- bones become weak and brittle increasing chances of fractures
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Tenderness of breasts
- Headaches, joint and muscle stiffness, and pain.
- A rise in cholesterol level increases the chances of heart disease, stroke.
HOW TO COPE?
- A perimenopausal woman should take about 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Foods high in calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products; oysters, sardines and canned salmon with bones; dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli. In calcium tablets, the most easily absorbed in the body is calcium carbonate.
- Eat a low-fat diet
- Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals specially those high in vitamins, minerals, and fibers such like oranges, grapefruit, carrots, winter squash, tomatoes, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Regular exercise benefits the heart and the bones help regulate weight and contribute to a sense of overall well-being and improvement in mood.
- Women who regularly walk, jog, swim, dance or perform some other aerobic activities can easily avoid various physical and emotional problems.
- During exercise, endorphins or “feel good” hormones are released in the brain that helps to cope with psychological problems.
The good news is by the time you reach menopause, many perimenopausal symptoms disappear.
Perimenopause and menopause affect each woman differently. There are many women who don’t experience any perimenopause symptoms.