Menopause is a time in a female’s life, usually between the 40s and the 50s that marks the end of the menstrual cycle. The average age for menopause to start is 51 years. It is identified after going for 12 months without experiencing any periods. Menopause can go on for several years, and it progresses in stages.
Menopause is a time in a female’s life, usually between the 40s and the 50s that marks the end of the menstrual cycle. The average age for menopause to start is 51 years.
It is identified after going for 12 months without experiencing any periods. Menopause can go on for several years, and it progresses in stages.
Preimenopause: This is the transition time which begins prior to menopause and comprises of the twelve months following a person’s last menstrual period. Estrogen and progesterone levels begin to fall, but there might still be menstruation which occurs irregularly with wide time gaps.
During this stage, there are low chances that one may get pregnant. This stage may last for up to seven years.
Menopause- begins twelve months after the last menstrual period or when there is a clinical reason behind the stop of menstruation, like removal of a person’s ovaries. At this stage, it is impossible to get pregnant, and it may also last for up to seven years.
Postmenopause- This is the period after menopause. However, it can be hard to tell exactly when menopause ends and when post menopause begins.
There are different symptoms that women experience during menopause, and the intensity of each varies depending on factors like underlying health conditions and diet.
Also called vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis, vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It is mainly caused due to the declining levels of estrogen hormone in the body, which makes the vaginal tissues thinner and drier.
That can result in burning, itching, discomfort and pain. It can also make sex painful and uncomfortable because it may result in small tears and cuts in the vagina. Those tears and cuts may pose a higher risk of infections and STDs.
To deal with vaginal dryness, you can try;
Vaginal lubricants- You can get different types of lubricants over the counter and without a prescription from the doctor. They come in different scents and colors depending on your preference.
They help make vaginal sex easier and smoother. Ensure to use only water-soluble lubricants since oil-based ones can increase the irritation instead. Since the vagina is a sensitive part of the body, ensure that the products you use as lubricants are designed for the vagina.
Avoid using body lotions, massage oils, or hand creams because they may contain some ingredients that may irritate you. Also, avoid strongly scented products or those with alcohol.
Vaginal moisturizers- These can also be bought over the counter without any prescription. Unlike lubricants, moisturizers can be used even when not having vaginal sex. You can use them regularly, and their effect is more long-lasting than that of the lubricants.
They are meant to maintain and improve the vaginal moisture for women experiencing mild vaginal atrophy.
During that period, the vagina lining and the vulva tissues become dry, thin, less lubricated and less elastic. The vaginal moisturizers also aid in maintaining low vaginal pH, maintaining a healthy vaginal environment.
Regular sexual stimulation- Vaginal dryness can be avoided and vaginal health maintained by regular painless sexual activity. That ensures that there is maximum blood flow to the vagina, which then stimulates moisture production.
Topical estrogen therapy- This involves medications that are directly applied to the vagina. Since they involve absorption of less estrogen as compared to when taken as a pill, they pose lesser risks. Some of the estrogen therapies include;
• Vaginal cream applied to the vagina using an applicator.
• Vaginal ring, which is a flexible ring inserted into the vagina after which it will continually release low estrogen amounts into the tissues. It should be replaced after every ninety days.
• The vaginal tablet is placed into the vagina using an applicator also.
There are also other medications that the doctor can prescribe, which can be taken orally to boost the estrogen levels.
Due to hormonal fluctuation during the preimenopause and menopause stages, it is common that many women feel out of control with increased levels of anxiety, irritability, crying spells, blue moods and fatigue.
It is important not to ignore those mood changes because they may lead to severe depression if not well handled. Talk to your doctor and have them examine you and give you the right way to deal with them.
To deal with those moods swings, stress-reduction, and relaxation techniques like deep breaths and massages are one of the most helpful methods.
You can also try getting a good massage, changing your lifestyle, exercising regularly, and undertaking fun and self-nurturing activities like painting. That is the perfect time to explore a new hobby or find something fun to keep you occupied.
If by any chance, the mood changes have developed into depression, your doctor can prescribe anti-depressant medications.
Although it takes some time to realize the benefits of the medications, it is important to take them continuously, even when it seems like depression is going away.
Joining a support group online or in your neighborhood of people who are going through the same thing will also be of great help.
Also called hot flushes, these are a sudden hot or burning feeling in your upper body. Your neck and face might become red. You may also have red blotches on your arms, back and chest, and heavy sweating during the flushes followed by cold chills after they are gone.
Research has shown that three out of every four women in menopause experience these flashes. They are commonly experienced the year prior to the menstruation stopping and the year after menstruation stops.
However, there are cases where the flashes last for up to fourteen years. Some of the things you can do to manage hot flashes include;
• Hormone treatment- If you are experiencing hot flashes, and are still getting your periods, consult your physician about low-dose hormonal birth control. If you have experienced menopause ad are getting the hot flashes, menopausal hormone therapy is the right hormone treatment for you.
Because of the possible side effects, consult your doctor before using menopausal hormone therapy, and ensure you use it in the lowest doses, for the least amount of time.
• Lose weight- Obesity or having a lot of weight may worsen the hot flashes. Consider exercising regularly to lose a few pounds.
• Take deep breaths- When the hot flash begins, try taking deep, slow breaths, which make your body be calm and relax. That can help shorten the hot flashes and reduce the severity.
• Drink cold water- Always have a glass of ice-cold water near you to cool you down when the hot flashes kick in.
• Use other medications- Besides hormonal treatment, there are other medications that you can consider, for example, some anti-depressants, blood pressure medicine, and epilepsy medicine.
• Track the flashes- Track and note what triggers your hot flashes and be sure to avoid it.
• Use a fan.
• Take off some clothes.
Many women complain of less sleep or reduced sleep quality during menopause. The reduced progesterone levels may make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Also, hot flashes may make it hard to stay asleep.
Sometimes, you may also experience night sweats, where you wake up with drenched clothes. Some of the things you can do to better your sleep include;
• Exercise- Engaging in regular physical activities is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you get quality sleep. Ensure that you work out earlier in the day because exercising just before you sleep can keep you more awake instead.
• Exercises like stretching and yoga will not only help you sleep b better, and for longer, they also help in managing hot flashes.
• Drink warm drinks- Having a warm cup of milk or coffee will help you sleep better.
• Reduce screen time before bed- Do not watch a lot of television or use your phone or computer before going to bed. Also, ensure to turn off or dim the light when sleeping because the lights stimulate the brain to stay awake.
• Do not drink alcohol, have large meals, or smoke before bed.
• Do not sleep during the day.
Lower levels of estrogen may cause the urethra to weaken, causing urinary or bladder problems. Sometimes, it may be hard for you to even hold the urine till you get to the bathroom (urinary urge incontinence).
Sometimes when you laugh, sneeze, or cough, urine might leak (urinary stress incontinence). Urinary problems maybe some of the reasons women in menopause don’t get enough sleep. Some remedies for this include;
• For urinary incontinence, avoid or limit the intake of caffeine, physical therapy, use special medical devices, medication, or surgery.
• For urine leakage, you can use pads, urethra cups, or peccaries (round disks inserted into the vagina for supporting the bladder).
• Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
You may have memory loss or have trouble paying attention. This is a problem experienced by at least two-thirds of women in the preimenopause and menopause stages. Research has linked the memory problems to lack of enough sleep and depression but not to low estrogen levels.
Some ways to deal with this include;
• Get enough sleep.
• Regular physical activities.
• Quit smoking.
• Have a healthy diet.
• Remain socially and mentally active.