Menopause is gradual, complete and irreversible cessation of monthly menstrual period following reduction in the levels of female reproductive hormones. It must be noted that missing regular periods for a month or two or even six months is not considered menopause. Medically, total absence of vaginal bleeding for 12 months at a stretch is known as menopause.
Every female baby is born with a fixed number of eggs or ova. Over the years, eggs are stored in the ovaries, where they prepare for menstrual flow.
When a girl reaches her puberty, first egg from any of the two ovaries gets completely matured and is released by the ovary. The egg travels through fallopian tube. During this span, the ovaries release a number of reproductive hormones. The egg that is released by any one of the ovary waits in the fallopian tube for about 24 hours. If sperm is introduced in the body, they may fertilize and thus produces a zygote. This marks pregnancy.
The uterus lining thickens to prepare for any possible pregnancy, where the zygote transfers into a baby for over a period of 9 months. And if no fertilization takes place, the thickened wall breaks, and is released out of the body through vagina along with eggs. This is known as periods or menstrual flow. Every menstrual cycle is a period of 28 days; while periods can be anything from 2 to 7 days for every woman.
Menopause is a natural aging process where ovaries no longer release eggs or related female sex hormones. Once reaching menopause, a woman is no longer capable of getting pregnant; while being able to carry out with other normal functions easily. Menopause does come with some symptoms that are quite manageable.
Every women reaches the state of menopause at some particular time depending on her health status and genes. The ideal age is around 51 years or so, However, women belonging to age groups 45 or above can also experience a natural menopause.
If your mother or sister happens to experience menopause at some particular age, you can also expect the same.
Menopause has 3 different stages; namely;
Perimenopause is also termed as the end phase of menstruation. Women in perimenopause do not experience complete absence of periods, but have an irregular flow. Estrogen levels decline and so does their menstrual flow.
Perimenopause begins around 4 years prior to menopause. However, some women can even have 10 years of perimenopause phase.
Women in perimenopause experience the following symptoms:
Irregular flow is a common symptom that comes along with perimenopause. However, if you are having heavy period flow, it is best to visit the doctor to know that this irregularity is brought about by perimenopause changes and not by other health disorders; such as, cancer, wrong birth control pills etc.
Besides, if you are experiencing spotting between periods or your periods happen to be very frequent, it's better you visit a doctor, and not ignore them as early menopause symptoms.
Yes, reduced period flow suggests that the body is entering into the menopause phase. For reasons obvious, as ovulation decreases, your uterus wall weakens and does not develop properly. Thus, there is a related decrease in menstrual bleeding.
However, there can be many other factors that can lead to reduced menses. Therefore, if you think that it is too early for you to get into this menopause phase, and you are still experiencing scanty periods, it is best to visit a doctor.
Women entering menopause experience a number of physical and mental changes. A wide variety of symptoms exist, that determine menopause in women. Some of them have been listed below:
Hot flashes that existed since the perimenopause phase now appear to become more prominent. Hot flashes arise as a response of the body towards reduced estrogen production.
Women complain of a constant feeling of heat, that becomes more evident from the redness around cheeks and mild sweating. In women who have a gradual decrease in estrogen levels, hot flashes are more or less manageable. However, for women who have an abrupt decline of estrogen levels, hot flashes and related night sweats become very annoying and may hinder a good night's sleep.
Any individual may have changes in sexual desire or libido. However, menopause that brings about hormonal imbalance and vaginal dryness suddenly makes a women lose sexual desire completely. Lack of androgen is the primary reason behind libido or reduced sexual desires.
Mood swings now become very intense and frequent. A woman herself is not in a position to explain her emotional ups and downs. She is extremely sensitive and tends to get irritated soon. It is here that she needs support and care from her partner and family members.
As the body experiences hormonal imbalances, hair and nails tend to become very fragile. However, there can be other reasons that bring about such symptoms and it's wise to discuss with your doctor.
Weight gain or more precisely broadened waist lines is a prominent symptom of Menopause. As levels of hormones change, metabolic rates also change. The body tries to retain fat cells to compensate for reduced estrogen.
However, weight gain during menopause can be managed by bringing in related dietary changes and some physical exercises.
Bloating refers to a condition where women have an accumulation of intestinal gas, resulting in swelling of lower abdomen, tightness and pain. Some women may experience few days of bloating after which it disappears. Again, some women can experience continuous and prolonged bloating.
Due to sudden reduction of hormones, allergies become very common with menopausal women. Some women tend to turn allergic to food items that were never a source of trouble earlier. Again some may experience skin rashes, sneezing and redness of eyes. Severe allergic bout needs to be discussed with doctors.
Women often get extremely troubled when they suddenly realize that they are having a bad body odor and nothing seems to work. Body odor arises as there is excess sweating due to hot flashes. However, you can talk to your doctor if this is really bothering you.
Women suffer from bloating because the body lacks bile necessary for healthy intestinal functions. Estrogen levels govern bile secretions. Therefore, when the body has reduced estrogen, there will be a relative change in bile production; leading to bloating and other related problems.
When a woman does not have any form of vaginal bleeding for a year, she is said to have attained menopause. Post menopause, symptoms tend to be less severe in most cases. However, some women do continue with disturbing after effects of menopause; such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes.
Weight gain remains a major concern post menopause and only those who can bring about the necessary life style changes, do enjoy a happy and less stressful post menopause period.
Menarch and menopause, both have a fixed age to happen. However, there are a couple of factors that lead to early menopause in women. Some of them are:
Family History: Medical experts say that if the women in your family have been showing an early menopause, you become prone to attain the same. Daughters are six times more prone to early menopause if their mothers have had the same.
Smoking can lead to early menopause: Studies have shown that women who are in the habit of smoking, experience much early menopause as compared to their non smoking counter parts with almost similar health status.
Thin women have a greater chance of early menopause: Fat cells store estrogen necessary for healthy menstruation. Therefore, very thin women who have a lack of fat cells have related restriction of estrogen and thus attain an early menopause.
Ovarian disease: Women suffering from some kind of ovarian disorders such as cyst or cancer, remain more susceptible to an early menopause. However, proper treatment through medication can eliminate the chances upto a great extent. Surgical removal of ovaries or uterus drives a woman to menopause.
Epilepsy leading to Ovarian Failure: Researchers state that women who have epilepsy history are very likely to reach early menopause as the disease affects ovarian failure.
Reaching menopause at a time when you don't have plans of ending your fertility is definitely a great reason to worry about. Besides, reduced production of estrogen can have other health concerns. Some of them are:
Breast cancer is estrogen sensitive. Women who enter late menopause or begin early, remain exposed to estrogen for greater duration. Thus, the chances of these women to develop breast cancer is greater as compared to those who attain early menopause.
An FSH Test confirms that you have attained early menopause. However, for those who are worried about their infertility, can definitely opt for hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
HRT is helpful in dealing with early menopause; however, increases the chances of other health disorders. If you want to have your own baby despite menopause, opting for IVF Treatment is one of the most effective steps you can opt for.
Yes! Although many women experience lesser sexual drive post menopause, if you do have a libido you can definitely go ahead. There are no health concerns related to sex after menopause. However, getting pregnant is no longer possible now.
No. Menopause is not painful. However, the number of symptoms accompanying the phase are definitely very stressful. Vaginal dryness sometimes makes women feel slight pain around the area.
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