Menopause

1 What is Menopause?

Menopause or climacteric is when the menstrual cycle of women stops permanently and a natural biological process.

It will occur 12 months after your last menstrual period and it can happen around 40-55 years of age and at the same time it ends fertility meaning you will not be able to have any children but you can stay vital, sexual and healthy.

Most women like this stage because they will not be pregnant anymore, though some had menopausal babies.

Signs and symptoms of this include hot flashes that usually last from 30 seconds up to 10 minutes, it may be associated with sweating, shivering and redness of the skin, vaginal dryness, mood changes, trouble sleeping, emotional symptoms, it will also trigger anxiety or feeling of loss or sadness.

Ask for treatment if these symptoms bother you that range from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.

menopause

2 Symptoms

There may be different symptoms and signs of menopause such as:

Skipping periods is expected and common during perimenopause, and it will occur every two to four months during this stage, specifically one to two years before menopause.

Pregnancy is still possible when you have irregular periods, you may seek advice from a physician or buy a pregnancy test to be sure.

Set an appointment if you are bothered by your irregular periods.

There are recommended screenings such as; mammography, thyroid testing, colonoscopy, lipid testing, pelvic and breast exams. If your vagina is bleeding, see your doctor resolve the problem.

3 Causes

The causes of menopause include:

  • Age, your ovaries start making less estrogen and progesterone (hormones that regulate menstruation) as you approach your late 30s, your menstrual periods may become more or less frequent, heavier or lighter, longer or shorter in your 40s and you will not have any period by the age of 51.
  • Hysterectomy, it removes the uterus but not the ovaries, your ovaries still release eggs and produce progesterone and estrogen even if you no longer have periods, but it does not cause immediate menopause.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy, these treatments can give you hot flashes during or after the treatment and is not permanent so you might still want to take extra precautions for pregnancy.
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency, if your ovaries are not producing enough hormones, hormone therapy is recommended but when you reach a certain age so that your brain, bones and heart will be protected.

4 Making a Diagnosis

If you suspect that you are on menopausal stage, you can visit your gynecologist to receive a diagnosis.

Bring a close friend or family member with you so you will not forget anything the doctor tells you and also bring a notebook to take down notes and important details.

Your gynecologist may ask you questions such as:

  • What are the symptoms you are experiencing?
  • Are you still having periods?
  • When was your last period?
  • Do your symptoms make you uncomfortable?
  • Does it bother you?
  • Did it improve over the time from the first sign up to today?

 List down the supplements, medications, and vitamins that you are taking every day and how often do you drink them.

Also, make a list of how many hot flashes have you experienced already. Is it moderate or severe? 

You can also ask your doctor these questions:

  • What tests do I need to take?
  • Are there any treatments for these symptoms?
  • How can I relieve these symptoms? 

Further evaluation might be needed in some cases and blood tests to check your Follicle stimulating hormone and Estrogen and Thyroid stimulating hormone.

5 Treatment

No medical treatment is needed for menopause. The only medications and treatments that are needed are for the relief of your symptoms and signs and managing your chronic conditions that may cause due to aging.

These treatments are:

  • Estrogen therapy which is the most effective known treatment for the relief hot flashes, your doctor will give the right dosage for you and estrogen also helps in preventing bone loss.
  • Hormone therapy.
  • Low dosage antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for managing hot flashes which may be useful for women who have mood disorder and for health reasons.
  • Vaginal estrogen so there will be relief regarding urinary symptoms, vaginal dryness, and discomfort with intercourse.
  • Neurontin or Gabapentin to help reduce the hot flashes and treat seizures, this is good for women who have migraines, medications for people who have osteoporosis.
  • Ask your doctor first which treatment you should use.

6 Prevention

You can prevent the symptoms of menopause by:

  • Eating a healthy diet, a well-balanced diet with less salt and sugar.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Have enough sleep.
  • Be cautious about your blood pressure and bones.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Some alternative remedies used for menopause are:

  • Bioidentical hormones that are available in the pharmacy, ask your doctor first if he will recommend this.
  • Plant Estrogens or phytoestrogens that have two types (lignans that can be seen in whole grains, flaxseed and vegetables and fruits; and isoflavones that can be seen in chickpeas, legumes, and soybeans).
  • Yoga may be effective to reduce hot flashes with the proper breathing technique and posture.
  • Acupuncture to reduce hot flashes too.
  • Black cohosh but some says this can be harmful to the liver. 

Make sure to ask your physician first before doing some of these.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with menopause.

There are few steps to prevent the effects of menopause such as:

  • Know the triggers of hot flashes, it can be stress, alcohol, hot drinks.
  • Hot weather, spicy foods and caffeine drink a glass of water to cool yourself.
  • Use over the counter water based lubricants to reduce vaginal discomfort or moisturizers.
  • Staying sexually active so that the blood flow may increase.
  • Get enough rest and sleep.
  • Eat healthy foods and limit your salty and fatty foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Do some relaxation techniques like paced breathing.
  • Kegel exercises.

9 Risks and Complications

There are complications after menopause such as:

You may ask your doctor for advice on how to respond to these complications.

Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly and have enough sleep.

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