Am I going through menopause
Menopause is the term given to the end of a woman’s reproductive years i.e. the end of her periods. Often the word menopause is used to refer to any of the symptoms that a woman may experience leading up to menopause and beyond. It usually occurs during your 40s or 50s and is a gradual process. As with any kind of change, it can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Information often helps us understand new situations and may help make transitioning a bit easier. Below is a list of the questions you may have regarding menopause.
What causes premature menopause?
If menopause occurs before the age of 40, it is known as premature menopause. There are a number of factors that may cause you to go into early menopause.
Genetics – The age that you go into menopause might be hereditary. How old your mother was when she experienced menopause is a pretty good indication when you may probably begin. If she started early, you may follow in her footsteps.
Lifestyle choices – Certain lifestyle factors that appear to have a direct correlation with premature menopause.
Smoking – Research has shown that regular smokers usually start menopause earlier than their counterparts.
Low body weight – Thinner women may experience menopause prematurely since estrogen is stored in fat cells. If you have less body fat, your estrogen levels may diminish sooner than women who carry a little more weight.
Auto-immune diseases – Some autoimmune diseases attack the ovaries. When the ovaries stop working properly, menopause may begin.
Premature Ovarian failure – This occurs when your ovaries prematurely stop releasing eggs. As such your estrogen and progesterone levels may be altered, bringing on premature menopause.
What are some of the symptoms of Menopause?
Menopause may cause both physical and psychological symptoms. Thankfully, women will rarely experience all of the symptoms listed below.
Physical Symptoms of menopause include:
Due to low estrogen levels, your vagina may not produce enough natural lubrication.
Hot flashes –
If you feel a sudden sensation of warmth in your upper body, you are probably experiencing a hot flash. Your skin may feel prickly and you may also break out in a sweat. This episode may be followed by a chill.
Night sweats –
Sometimes menopause brings on extreme perspiration episodes that drench your sleepwear and sheets.
Joint and muscle pain –
You may be plagued by persistent body aches.
You may feel tired all the time, not having the energy to complete your daily tasks.
Dry, itchy skin –
This is brought on by the diminishing hormone levels that occur during menopause.
Weight gain –
You may gain weight during this time due to fluctuating hormonal levels.
Low sexual drive –
As estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, so too may your libido.
Trouble sleeping –
You may develop insomnia. You can try herbal remedies like chamomile or you can speak to your doctor for further management options.
Mood changes –
You may find that you experience extreme mood swings or may walk around in a cloud of irritability.
Poor memory and concentration
What can I expect during the perimenopausal phase?
The period before menopause (usually years) is a time of transition known as the perimenopausal phase. You can expect fluctuations in oestrogen levels which may affect your period.
Period changes – Before menopause starts, your period may become increasingly irregular – It may last for a longer time or it may last for fewer days. The menstrual flow may get heavier or lighter.
The peri-menopausal phase of a woman’s life cycle does not usually require treatment. However, you may want to consider dietary and lifestyle changes to help alleviate any symptoms that you may experience.
How will I know that menopause is over?
You will start to feel better and your symptoms will start to lessen in their intensity. If you don’t have a period for 12 months, you can safely assume that they will not be coming back. Your reproductive years have officially ended.
How can I treat my menopausal symptoms?
Where symptoms are overwhelming and you can’t carry out your normal daily functions, you may need a little help. Your doctor may suggest the following treatments for the physical symptoms:
Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)- These medications contain female hormones that the body no longer produces on its own.
Vaginal oestrogen creams
Or you may want to try natural remedies like:
Black Cohosh – This is a herb that is known for easing perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.
Evening Primrose – This natural remedy has been know to relieve hot flashes, night sweats and a host of other menopausal symptoms
The psychological symptoms can be addressed by these measures. Each individual is different, what may work for one person may not work for another.
Counseling/Therapy – A therapist might be able to offer coping mechanisms and give the perspective during this challenging time.
Support groups – It helps to know that you are not alone and someone else might be sharing your struggles.
Lifestyle changes – A healthy diet and regular exercise often help women feel better. Some women who smoke have reported that the decision to quit has produced a significant improvement in their condition. These changes also help starve off any possible health complications that may occur due to menopause.
What should I do if I experience bleeding after menopause?
You should visit your doctor as soon as possible if you experience postmenopausal bleeding. Any vaginal bleeding, even light spotting, that occurs after menopause, should not be ignored. It could be a symptom of a serious condition like endometrial cancer. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and do the required test based on his findings.
Women all over the world are impacted by menopause in some way or the other. Your quality of life can be severely impacted. If you are struggling with this transition, please make an appointment with your doctor so that you can discuss your possible treatment options.
- Emaus, A., Dieli-Conwright, C., Xu, X., Lacey, J. V., Jr, Ingles, S. A., Reynolds, P., Bernstein, L., & Henderson, K. D. (2013). Increased long-term recreational physical activity is associated with older age at natural menopause among heavy smokers: the California Teachers Study. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 20(3), 282–290. https://doi.org/10.1097/GME.0b013e31826ce3d4
- Edwards, H., Duchesne, A., Au, A. S., & Einstein, G. (2019). The many menopauses: searching the cognitive research literature for menopause types. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 26(1), 45–65. https://doi.org/10.1097/GME.0000000000001171
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