Menopause | The Causes, Signs And Treatment
Menopause meaning: A condition when menses pause of women. Menopause is the reality of every women’s life. It comes in most women’s lives when menstrual periods stop permanently, and they are no longer able to bear children. In Medical terms, menopause defined as having occurred when a woman has not had any vaginal bleeding for a year. In menopausal condition, ovaries decrease the hormone (estrogen) production.
Menopause Age Range
Further, Menopause defined as the absence of menses (a period) for 12 consecutive months. The menopause age range is between 47 and 54 years, although this can slightly vary in some cases.
What Causes Menopause?
Menopause is associated with a decline in the number of functioning eggs within the ovaries. At the time of birth, every female has about 1 to 3 million eggs within the ovary, which are gradually decline throughout a women’s life.
At the time of a girl’s first menstrual period, she has an average of about 400,000 eggs that are gradually lost through menstruation over the period. By the time of menopause, these eggs confined to fewer than 10,000. A small percentage of these eggs are lost through normal ovulation (the monthly cycle).
A female reproductive hormone that stimulates follicles in the ovary called FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone. It is also responsible for the growth of ovarian follicles (eggs) during the first half of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
As menopause approaches, the remaining eggs become more resistant to FSH, and the ovaries dramatically reduce their production of estrogen hence causes menopause.
Estrogen affects many parts of the body, including the blood vessels, skin, heart, urinary system, breasts, uterus, bone, and brain. Loss of estrogen is the reason behind many of the symptoms associated with menopause.
Facts About Menopause
- The average age of women at the time of menopause is 51 years. The most common age range at which women experience menopause is 47-54 years.
- In few cases when women younger than 40 years experience menopausal symptoms, its defined as Premature menopause. Due to cancer or in cases of premature ovarian failure about 1% of women experience early or premature menopause,
- Menopause may occur at a slightly earlier age in women who have never been pregnant, smoke, drink excessively or live at high altitudes.
- The menopause in which both the ovaries have removed through a surgical process defined as Surgical menopause. In these surgical cases, Women often have a sudden and severe onset of the symptoms of menopause.
Perimenopause is a condition in which menopausal symptoms have started three to five years prior to last menstrual period. During this period women may start to experience menopausal symptoms even though they are still menstruating. Perimenopause age range is between 42 and 46 years.
Early Signs Of Menopause
While reaching to menopause, a women’s menstrual period may change. They may get lighter or heavier, longer or shorter. The interval between periods may increase or decrease. A long gap may happen between two periods during perimenopause.
Women may suffer from irregular periods for a long time before reaching to menopause or during perimenopause. Pregnancy is possible during perimenopause until a woman has had a full year without periods.
Many women experience a number of Perimenopause signs as a result of the hormonal changes associated with the approaching to menopause. Early Signs of menopause a women experience include:
- Vaginal Dryness: Decrease in estrogen creates vaginal dryness
- Painful Intercourse: Because estrogen may change the vaginal lining, it decreases the vaginal mucus in perimenopausal women which help as a lubricant during intercourse. Hence its absence may also produce pain during intercourse.
- Mood Swings: The daily mood changes as a feeling of depression is refer to mood swings.
- Loss Of Libido (Interest In Sex): although some women experience an increase in sexual desire
- Hot Flushes: It is a sudden feeling of warmth or heat in the body. Hot flashes may occur on their own or sometimes accompanied with night sweats.
- Night Sweats: excessive sweating during the day.
- Urinary Incontinence: burning during urination
- Vaginal Changes: sometimes women may note a change in vaginal discharge.
- Breast Changes: Menopause may cause changes in the shape of the breasts.
- Thinning Of The Skin: the thickness of skin may reduce.
- Bone Loss: Estrogen also helps to increase the bone density. The absence of this hormone may become the reason rapid bone loss during the perimenopausal years. No pain is usually associated with bone loss.
However, bone loss can cause osteoporosis, a condition in which the density of bones become too low that it can get fracture even by a little hit or pressure. Osteoporosis increases the risk of bone fractures.
These fractures can be intensely painful and can interfere with daily life. They also can increase the risk of death.
- Cholesterol: Menopause also may affect the Cholesterol profiles. Total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels increase. Increased LDL cholesterol may lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Weight Gain: According to a study of healthy women nearing menopause found an average gain of 2.5 kg during the three years. Aging and menopause both can be the possible factors in this weight gain.
Talk with your doctor if symptoms are shown other than given above. Sometimes, conditions other than menopause can also cause changes in your period.
Treatment For Menopause
Hormone Therapy is used to control the symptoms of menopause. This therapy is consist of estrogen, estrogen along with progesterone, in the form of pills, spray or a patch. Long-term use of hormone therapy is not advisable. It increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer. Hence the lowest dose is required for the treatment for the shortest period of time is recommended. Hence, if required take your doctor’s advise to choose the best hormonal therapy among the all available in the market.
- Low dose oral contraceptive pills are may one option for perimenopausal women to treat hot flashes and irregular vaginal bleeding.
- An antidepressant may also be one option to treat hot flashes.
- Local vaginal hormone treatments such as vaginal estrogen cream, vaginal estrogen ring can be applied directly to the vagina, tablets( use orally) for the treatment of vaginal dryness.
Besides this, Some herbal or botanical treatments are also available in the markets that claim to treat hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. Although no document is available regarding the efficacy and safety of these products.
Some Herbal Therapies are:
- Evening primrose oil
- Red clover
- Vitamin E
- Wild yam
In men, the term is referred as “Andropause”. Reaching the age of 40, testosterone production in men begins to fall by about 1 percent/ annum. By growing age, lower levels of testosterone may affect libido (sex drive). If the level of testosterone falls too low, it may cause erectile dysfunction (ED), bone density, loss of energy and decreased muscle mass. But, testosterone doesn’t affect the Men’s ability to have children as they get older.
Positive Aspects Of Menopause
The positive aspects of menopause are:
- Women enter a new phase of life rather than grieving for lost youth.
- She will not have any more periods or its symptoms
- Get rid off of maintaining the management of birth control pills, if she opted
- No tension for changing sanitary napkins periodically
- She will also enjoy her sex life without any fear about pregnancy
Hence menopause should be treat as a time of joy and pleasure. Fill yourself with positive thoughts, love yourself and enjoy the phase of life