What is Menopause?

A New Pause in Life!

Menopause is the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. It is a stage in life when you stop having your monthly period. Menopause is a normal part of aging process and marks the end of the reproductive years in women. Menopause typically occurs in your late 40s to early 50s.

Menopause occurs because as women get older, the ovaries begin to shut down. Eventually, ovaries stop producing estrogen and other hormones. Since the body has been depended on these hormones for years, when hormone levels decreases, the changes are noticeable and it results in both bodily changes and emotional reactions. These may include physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, decreased energy levels, and sleep disruption, as well as mood-related symptoms, such as anxiety, mood-swings and depression. Over time, these symptoms gradually disappear.

Learn exactly how menopause can affect your body physically and emotionally –

1. Hot Flashes –

Many women complain of hot flashes as a primary menopausal symptom. Hot flashes could be defined as a sudden feeling of heat, either in the upper portion of the body or all over it. The face and neck may turn red, and a woman might feel sweaty or flushed. Aside from the heat, hot flashes also come with a red flushed face, sweating, and chilled feeling after the heat. The intensity of a hot flash can vary from mild to a very strong one, and occasionally it also wakes some women up at night. A hot flash generally lasts between 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Most women experience hot flashes for a year or two after their final menstrual period. Hot flashes may continue after menopause, but usually decrease in intensity over time.

2. Sleep Disturbance –

During menopause, some women might find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. A woman may wake up earlier than she wishes to and might have trouble going to back to sleep. Relaxation and breathing techniques may promote better sleep. It is also important to exercise during the day. Going to bed at the same time every night, taking steps to stay cool while sleeping, and avoiding foods and drinks like chocolate, caffeine, or alcohol may help improve sleep.

3. Mood Symptoms –

Declining estrogen levels which are associated with menopause can cause much more than hot flashes. Some of the mood changes experienced by women undergoing menopause includes irritability, lack of motivation, feelings of sadness, aggressiveness, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, fatigue, changeable moods, and tension. Although there are other conditions also that could cause women to feel sad or irritable, these feelings are common emotional symptoms of menopause. Time and again, they can be managed through lifestyle changes such as relaxation training and stress reduction with yoga and breathing techniques.

4. Osteoporosis

There is a direct relationship between the lack of estrogen after menopause and the development of osteoporosis. After menopause, bone resorption (breakdown) overtakes the process of building of new bone. In fact, you could lose up to 20% of your bone density during the first 5-7 years after menopause, putting you at increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Early menopause (before age 45 years) and any long phases in which a woman has low hormone levels and no, or infrequent, menstrual periods can also cause loss of bone mass.

5. Cardiovascular Symptoms

The frequency of cardiovascular disease in women increases after menopause. Specifically, the risk of coronary heart disease is two to threetimes higher. A decline in estrogen is one of the main factors in the increase rate of heart disease among postmenopausal women. Estrogen is believed to have a positive effect on the inner layer of the artery wall, helping to keep blood vessels flexible. That means they can relax and expand to accommodate blood flow.

6. Skin and Hair –

Due to menopause there is a loss of fatty tissue and collagen in women, which makes the skin thinner and drier, and it affects the lubrication and elasticity of the skin near their vagina and urinary tract. Also, the reduced level of estrogen may contribute to hair loss and/or cause hair to feel brittle and dry.

7. Your weight distribution will change

Changes in your estrogen hormone levels may cause you to gain weight. The fat more likely to settle around the waist rather than on the hips and thighs.

8. Reproductive System

While your period may have been changing over the last several years during perimenopause, you don’t technically hit menopause until your monthly period has stopped completely. This means now your body has stopped producing eggs for fertilization. Without the shedding of an unfertilized egg every month, there’s no more menstruation.

Menopause can also affect other parts of the reproductive system. When you’re no longer going through monthly cycles, you may not have any thickening of cervical mucus toward the middle of your cycle, a symptom that often signifies ovulation. Overall vaginal dryness and a lack of libido can also occur with menopause, but these don’t have to be permanent. An over-the-counter lubricant can help.

9. Immune and excretory systems

A drop in estrogen levels may also lead to bladder leakage, also called incontinence. You may find you urinate more often or you leak when you laugh, work out, or sneeze. Frequent urination can also interfere with your sleep. Estrogen plays a key role in keeping the bladder, urethra and pelvic muscles in good working order, making loss of bladder control a common problem for postmenopausal women, when your Estrogen levels are low.

Menopause is the most natural part of a woman’s life cycle. It’s the time when your estrogen and progesterone levels decrease. Following menopause, your risk for certain conditions like osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease may increase. To manage your symptoms, maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise to avoid unnecessary weight gain.