Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period. Menopause is the process through which a woman ceases to be fertile or menstruate. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States. There are many factors that help determine when you’ll begin menopause, including genetics and ovary health. Postmenopause refers to the years after menopause has occurred. Premature menopause is menopause that happens before the age of 40.
Causes and Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause is not a disease or disorder, it does trigger some profound changes in a woman’s body. A diagnosis of menopause is confirmed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. The symptoms of menopause generally appear before the end of that one-year period.
The most common early signs are
- Less frequent menstruation
- Heavier or lighter periods than you normally experience
- Hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing
Other common symptoms are:
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Reduced libido, or sex drive
- Dry skin, mouth, and eyes
- Increased urination
- Sore or tender breasts
- Racing heart
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Reduced muscle mass
- Painful or stiff joints
- Reduced bone mass
- Less full breasts
- Hair thinning or loss
- Increased hair growth on other areas of the body, such as the face, neck, chest, and upper back
- Symptoms, including changes in menstruation, are different for every woman. Most likely, you’ll experience some irregularity in your periods before they end.
Menopause can result from:
Natural decline of reproductive hormones: As you approach your late 30s, your ovaries start making less estrogen and progesterone the hormones that regulate menstruation and your fertility declines.
Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy that removes your uterus but not your ovaries usually doesn’t cause immediate menopause. But surgery that removes both your uterus and your ovaries (total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy) does cause immediate menopause.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy: cancer therapies can induce menopause, causing symptoms such as hot flashes during or shortly after the course of treatment.
Primary ovarian insufficiency: Menopause may result from primary ovarian insufficiency when your ovaries fail to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones .
Protecting Your Health
- Exercise during menopause can have a range of benefits, including preventing weight gain, reducing cancer risk, protecting the bones, and boosting general mood.
- It is important to maintain a healthful and varied diet when managing the bodily effects of menopause.
- Deep breathing techniques, guided meditation, and progressive relaxation can also help limit sleep disturbance. Stress can aggravate hot flashes and night sweats, so avoiding known stressors and practising relaxation techniques.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Limit the consumption of spicy food, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Stay sexually active to reduce vaginal dryness.
- Keep stress levels to a minimum, and get plenty of rest.
- Maintain a cool and comfortable temperature in the bedroom at night to minimise night sweats.
- Wake up and go to sleep at the same times every day to regulate the sleep cycle.
- Smoking can exacerbate symptoms, so avoiding it is important.