Introduction/ Menopause meaning: Menopause is the name given to the biological stage of a woman’s life when her menstrual cycles come to an end. Technically, it refers to the absence of a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months. It also describes the changes that women go through right before and after menopause. This usually is witnessed by women between the ages of 40-50. As the menstrual cycles have come to an end, the menopausal woman cannot get pregnant. For the majority of the women, even though menopause symptoms can really make them uncomfortable, yet menopause does not need any medical treatment.
Causes of Menopause:
Menopause is just a natural process of human biological life. It is just the result of the ovaries aging and less production of reproductive hormones. All women are born with limited number of eggs and no more eggs are added in the future life. These eggs start maturing as the girl grows after she has reached the puberty stage. The hormones progesterone and estrogen are responsible for controlling the menstruation process and releasing an egg each month. Every woman must go through menopause at some point in their life. It can, however, be due to the following reasons:
There are increased risks of development of several medical conditions which are enlisted below:
The majority of the women experience various symptoms due to menopause. Although, the severity/ intensity and the duration for these symptoms may be different in different women. Menopausal symptoms may begin to occur a few months or even years before the menopause. These symptoms of menopause can be around for several years even after the periods have stopped/ menopause. In very rare cases, these symptoms can last even up to 12 years after the menopause. The symptoms can be worse if the menopause has appeared suddenly like in women who have undergone cancer treatment. The symptoms associated with menopause are:
Usually, the signs and symptoms associated with menopause are enough to tell that you have stepped into your menopausal transition. Hence, this is also the reason why you should get a proper diagnosis from your doctor if you have been experiencing menopausal symptoms or even if you have crossed the menopause age (45). Tests are usually recommended under certain cases only. If one is among such certain conditions, then the doctor might suggest the following blood tests:
One can check the FSH levels themselves as one there are also over-the-counter home tests available nowadays. These tests can tell you if your FSH levels are elevated or not and hence, one can know if they are in perimenopause (the stage at which the body transits into menopause) or the menopause stage. But because these FSH levels also change during the time of menstrual cycles hence, one cannot be sure if they are in any menopausal stage and therefore, you will need an experienced doctor who can tell you for sure.
The most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms is the Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) even though there are other treatment options available. A list of all the mainstream treatment options available is given below:
This refers to the replacement of missing hormones. As most of the menopausal symptoms are caused due to abnormally low levels of the estrogen hormone hence, it is really an important hormone that needs replacement. HRT is very effective in relieving the symptoms caused due to menopause. It is available in the form of tablets, patches, and rubbing gels.
You should, however, talk to your doctor regarding the benefits and risks associated with your condition before getting started with the treatment, as these both can vary in some cases. There are also other symptom-specific treatments that are used to reduce the symptoms produced due to the menopause.
One can also experience mood swings, low mood, and feelings of anxiety around the menopausal time. One should take self-help measures like getting proper rest and doing regular exercises along with relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, etc. in order to get help with the mood swings Although HRT is the most effective treatment yet, one can also take the help of therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for these mood swings. If one has been diagnosed with depression, then she can take the help of antidepressants.
Menopause can cause various symptoms in women like hot flushes and night sweats. If you are also among the ones who are experiencing hot flushes and night sweats, then you can take the following preventive measures:
Reduced Sexual Desires:
It is very commonly seen in women to lose their sexual desires around the menopausal time. If HRT doesn’t prove to be that effective (which it mostly is) then your doctor may recommend using a testosterone gel that can be applied on the skin (usually applied on the abdomen or on the top of the leg). Testosterone has proven to be effective in restoring the sex drive in some women. Testosterone can however cause side effects like acne and unwanted growth of hair.
If you experience dryness, itching, and pain in your vagina due to the menopause then your Gynaecologist may prescribe treatment which includes using estrogen hormone in the form of cream or vaginal ring that can be put in the vagina. However, one can use this estrogen treatment along with HRT treatment also. But, if one is using estrogen treatment then she will have to use it indefinitely as the symptoms may reappear when this treatment is stopped. Side effects are very rare to this treatment. One can also use moisturizers or lubricants either with this treatment or instead of it.
There is an increased risk of the bones getting weak due to osteoporosis (caused due to the lower levels of the estrogen hormone) after the menopause.
You can reduce/ manage your chances of getting osteoporosis by taking the following steps:
You should have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor. You should make a follow-up appointment after every 3-3.5 months and then, as the symptoms get reduced, then you can extend this follow-up appointment up to once every year.
Your doctor might do the following things during this follow-up:
Most women need menopausal treatment only for a few years (these years are uncertain as the menopause duration can be different for different people) until the majority of the symptoms have disappeared. Although, a lot of times, many women may wish to continue with HRT for some additional years just to be safe and be sure that the symptoms would not return.
Menopause is a phase of life that comes in every woman’s life. One should always remember that it is just the natural stopping of a woman’s menstrual cycle, not the woman’s life. Many women think that menopause indicates that they are getting old and moving towards death. However, no one sees the fact that it indicates the beginning of the time where a woman should start living to the full extent. Because of this pessimistic mentality, many women think that it is okay to suffer from post-menopausal symptoms as they are starting to get old and hence, are going to have a few things which might make them suffer. One needs logical thinking along with a competent gynecologist / doctor / healthcare provider who is having a good amount of expertise to guide you properly. There are high chances of one getting benefited from treatments like HRT so one should not think that she will have to suffer from the symptoms associated with menopause.