Menopause is a phase in a woman’s life when her period stops. It is not a disease, it’s a natural process and occurs most often after the age of 45. Average age of menopause is 48 years in India, if it occurs before the age of 40, then it is termed as pre-menopause or commonly known as early menopause.
Menopause is experienced because the ovaries in the female reproductive system stop producing the hormones- estrogen and progesterone.
Signs & Symptoms
Technically, a woman has reached menopause when she has not had a menstrual period for one year. However, the signs of menopause can be observed before the one year period is over.
Menopause effects every woman differently but the commonly noticed symptoms during this period are as follows:
- A change in periods – shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, with more or less time in between
- Hot flashes and/or night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Trouble focusing
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Loss of breast fullness
This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms, through a regular checkup we can keep a tab on the changes and its effects. These signs can be noticed in case of premature menopause as well and there can be various causes that result in premature menopause. Some of the causes are:
- Addison’s disease
- Enzyme deficiency
- Removal of ovaries
- Changing lifestyles
Every woman has to undergo this phase of menopause and it can get stressful and frustrating for some. Also, it can get difficult to decide whether to go for prescribed treatment or alternative therapies to help reduce the symptoms. Hence, being aware of treatment options and alternatives will help decide which course to go for. Following are some measures to help you have a smooth menstrual transition.
- Regular checkups with your doctor starting at perimenopause can help take up Preventive Healthcare.
- The recommended screenings at menopause are colonoscopy, mammography, lipid screening, thyroid testing (if your medical history suggests), breast & pelvic exams.
To begin with, you can make simple lifestyle changes, such as :
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Practice relaxation exercises
- Good sleep of 7 to 8 hours
- Intake of vitamins A, C, D & E
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
- Quit smoking (if habituated)
- Next you can consider taking natural supplements .i.e. the herbal supplements such as red clover, black cohosh being the popular ones.
- You can also go for prescribed medication, there are many prescription treatments one of which is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). With your doctor’s consultation you can opt for the treatment suiting you.
Never hesitate to seek treatment for the symptoms that bother you. There are effective treatments available from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.