Menopause is a process that occurs when a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without menstrual period. It is a natural part of aging and it signifies the end of your reproductive years. During menopause, the ovaries produce fewer hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which plays a vital role in regulating the menstrual cycle and supporting pregnancy. Menopause usually starts at the age of 51, however, the transition to menopause begins in your mid-40s. There are stages of menopause which are; Perimenopause or menopause transition, Menopause, and Postmenopause. Let’s quickly look at these stages of menopause.
- Perimenopause or menopause transition; this can begin 8 to 10 years before menopause, this happens when your ovaries gradually produce less estrogen, it starts in your 40s, it last until menopause, in the last two years the drop in estrogen accelerates, you are still having menstrual cycles during this time and can get pregnant.
- Menopause; menopause is officially confirmed when a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without seeing her menstrual period, during this stage, the ovaries produce significantly less estrogen and progesterone, leading to cessation of ovulation and menstruation.
- Postmenopause; this is the phase following menopause, where a woman can no longer experience menstrual cycles, as a result of a lower estrogen level, people in the postmenopausal phase are at an increased risk for several health conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Before listing out the symptoms of menopause, please note that symptoms vary according to the individual, also, some people experience these symptoms for up to 10 years while most people experience these symptoms for less than 5 years. Some symptoms of menopause include;
- Hot flashes ( a sudden warm feeling spreads over your body)
- Night sweats and cold flashes
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Vaginal dryness
- Dry skin, eyes, or mouth
- Emotional changes(mood swings)
- Hair loss
- Difficulty in concentrating(this symptom is temporary)
There is no cure for menopause, however, there are various ways to manage and alleviate the symptoms that occur. They include; hormone therapy, lifestyle change, dietary changes, and natural remedies amongst others.
- Hormone Therapy; this involves taking medications that contain estrogen and sometimes progesterone to help balance hormone levels and relieve symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. However, this is not suitable for everyone and should be discussed with your doctor before taking it.
- Lifestyle Changes; adopting a healthy lifestyle can make a significant difference in managing menopausal symptoms, regular exercise, and a balanced diet can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular issues.
- Dietary Changes; certain food might help manage symptoms, and foods rich in phytoestrogens such as soy products, flaxseeds, and whole grains can offer relief for some women. Reducing caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can also help manage hot flashes.
- Natural Remedies; some herbal supplements are believed to help menopausal symptoms, however, their effectiveness can vary, and it is important to discuss their use with a healthcare provider.
In Conclusion, menopause varies in intensity, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to explore management options and ensure overall well-being.it is also advisable for women to join support groups which can help them answer some questions they have and also provide the support they need.