Menopause: What to expect?
The life stages of a female with respect to her menstrual or
reproductive life, starts from “menarche” i.e. when she starts having
periods, or menses. Following her menarche is the reproductive period
in a woman’s life.
When do you expect menopause?
The average age of menopause in the Indian population is 46 years,
although it has a hereditary predisposition, that is, depending on when
your mother had her menopause. Although the average is 46 years, you
can have a normal menopause after 38-40 years and before 54 years
What should I expect in perimenopause?
CHANGES IN YOUR PERIODS
Menopause by definition is the absence of periods for 12 consecutive months. The perimenopause/menopause transition usually begins post the “reproductive period” which is the time that begins 3 to 5 years before menopause up to an year after menopause. Perimenopause is followed by menopause, where a woman stops having her periods.
As a woman ages, she becomes less and less able to bear children, and menopause is probably nature's protective phenomenon against reproductive morbidity and mortality in the ageing population.
This time of perimenopause is characterized by disturbed menstrual cycles and endocrine, or hormonal changes. As the ovaries slowly shut shop, there is an imbalance of hormones which lead to changes in your periods. You may experience irregular periods- they could either be very frequent, could last for longer days and with heavy bleeding.
As the body struggles to manage without estrogen, the temperature regulation is affected. This causes hot flushes- a sudden feeling of heat which is often followed by profuse sweating. It can happen suddenly, at any time and can be very troublesome.
Hot flushes that occur at night and disrupt your sleep and are known as night sweats.
You find that you suddenly find it difficult to cope with things in your life that didn’t seem so difficult till yesterday. You start feeling irritable, start having mood swings- sudden tearfulness, anger, sadness and also depressed feelings. Not only you, but your family is also confused at this sudden change in you.
Your intimacy with your partner gets affected either due to the vaginal dryness that makes sexual intercourse difficult and painful, or due to the loss in your libido due to these hormonal changes.
HAIR & SKIN CHANGES
Loss of estrogen causes an imbalance between the female and male hormones in the body leading to abnormal hair growth. You experience wrinkling of and dryness of skin along with vaginal dryness.
Loss of estrogen starts making your bones weak. The bone density reduces which leads to aches and pains, and in extreme cases, could lead to fractures after a seemingly minimal fall or injury.
Is there a solution to this ?
Yes!! All these symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be alleviated with the right medical advice, certain lifestyle modifications and at times, if required, by certain medications. Remember menopause is not a disease. It is a phase of life. You need to make certain changes in your lifestyle, your diet, your exercise routine to deal well with this phase of life. And if, at any time, you need some help, remember that we are here to help you!