Menopause – Symptoms and changes that demand attention
Mention the word ‘Menopause’ and images of aging, discomfort and slowing down, flash across your mind. Cramps, pain, hot flashes, sleep issues, irregular periods, mood swings… Menopause is associated with everything that is undesirable. Women across the globe dread the word and brace up for it while healthcare experts regularly advise them to make necessary changes in terms of food and lifestyle, apart from medication. Menopause occurs in phases and can go on for years.
As women reach their late 30s (the age could vary from person to person), the levels of the female hormone estrogen begin to fluctuate, signaling the onset of perimenopause. As you reach your 40s, the body gradually transitions to menopause, signaling the end of your reproductive years. Menstrual changes are noticed and once you experience 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, you’ve officially reached menopause, and perimenopause is over.
Through the period of perimenopause and menopause, the woman experiences several symptoms, some subtle and some visible. Perimenopause symptoms Include:
1. Irregular periods
Ovulation becomes unpredictable and the duration between periods may vary with the flow being light or heavy.
2. Hot flashes and sleep issues
Hot flashes and sleep issues are among the most common problems during perimenopause.
3. Mood changes
Irritability and mood swings is another common complaint and this could be due to sleep disturbance or hot flashes.
4. Bladder issues
There is also an increase in the frequency of urinary tract or vaginal infections. Loss of tissue health could also lead to urinary incontinence.
5. Reduction in ability to conceive
Ovulation becomes irregular leading to a reduction in the woman’s ability to conceive. Pregnancy is however possible as long as periods continue.
6. Changes in sexual function
Reducing estrogen levels bring about a change in sexual arousal and intercourse becomes more painful due to vaginal dryness.
7. Bone loss
Declining estrogen levels lead to degradation of bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. This leaves women more prone to injuries and fractures.
8. Varying cholesterol levels
Declining estrogen levels could lead to changes in your blood cholesterol levels with an increase in LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol, both leading to an increase in risk of heart disease.
Impact on lifestyle and menopause treatments
Both perimenopause and menopause symptoms significantly affect women’s ability to pursue active careers and fulfilling lifestyles. Healthcare experts provide various treatments to help them address the impact which varies in intensity and duration from individual to individual. The main treatment for menopause and perimenopause is HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), where hormones that are at low levels are replaced. Other treatments address specific menopause side effects and conditions such as anxiety and mood swings, osteoporosis, hair fall, disturbed sleep, vaginal dryness and muscle fatigue.
Vaginal dryness is a common condition that results in frequent urination and urinary tract infections besides causing burning and pain during sexual intercourse. Up until now, the products available to address this include lubricants and moisturisers that merely work to reduce friction in the vaginal canal and often contain ingredients that are not well-tolerated, resulting in only temporary relief.
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