Suffering From Menopause?
It seems that body changes never end for womenfolk. They stealthily follow us through puberty into adulthood. You go through life looking forward to the day when you and menstrual periods will part ways only for menopause to show up and turn your life upside down.
You’ve probably heard of menopause, but do you know what it is and what causes it? Getting authoritative answers to these questions will help you to understand and prepare for the condition. Fortunately, this is not a disease but a culmination of the glorious journey of womanhood which every woman should look forward to.
What Is Menopause?
It’s a word formed from the Greek words menos meaning month and pausis meaning cease, is part of a woman’s aging process. The ovaries usually produce estrogen and progesterone which support ovulation and menstrual cycles – the major determinants of a woman’s fertility. Lack of these hormones and the inability of the ovaries to produce eggs marks the end of the female reproductive phase and menstrual cycle, a state called menopause. This phase, however, does not occur at the same time for everyone.
Menopause is a natural developmental milestone that manifests itself with the advancement of age. It sets in at around 50 years of age. However, early menopause can occur. In this case, menopausal symptoms start even before one turns 40 years due to either aging or inducing conditions. Genes also determine the age at which menopause occurs so a discussion with your older female relatives can help you to know when your turn will come.
Causes of premature menopause include illnesses and hormonal disorders, surgery like hysterectomy, ovarian failure or damage which leads to abrupt cessation of egg production, and effects of some medical procedures such as chemotherapy or radiation. You should take time to establish whether you’re going through menopause because periods can be irregular.
Symptoms of Menopause
Menopausal symptoms may at times be confused with ailments. They significantly affect the quality of life during the period they occur (about 4 years). If your menstrual cycle has stopped for close to a year, you may be going through menopause. The most common symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness which leads to painful sex
- Mood swings
- Low libido
- Joint and muscle pains
- Depression and irritability
What Does a Menopause Test Entail?
When you visit your doctor for a menopause test, he will draw your blood to check the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. Its levels begin to rise with the decrease in estrogen. Your doctor will also perform a test similar to a Pap smear to detect the thinning of vaginal tissue caused by the drop in estrogen.
How Long Does it Last?
Once menopause symptoms commence, they progress gradually over four years. The manifestation and duration of the symptoms define the three stages of the condition. This is a general rule. Symptoms can be longer or shorter depending upon the individual.
At around 47 years of age, irregular periods and hot flashes set in. Pregnancy can occur at this juncture. You may skip a period or 5 periods. This can vary and there is no hard and fast rule. Everyone is different.
Confirmation of this stage is the lack of menstrual periods for a year. Accompanying symptoms include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and mood swings.
This stage remains for the rest of your life. Any vaginal bleeding at this point is a medical disorder.
Lubricants, topical estrogen, and non-estrogen medication help relieve vaginal dryness and discomfort during sexual intimacy. Additionally, sleeping aids assist in the alleviation of sleep problems. There are also herbal remedies that can help with the tension, agitation, depression and difficulty sleeping.
Hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy options with either estrogen or with estrogen and progesterone aid in managing night sweats, hot flashes, and prevent osteoporosis. However, hormone therapy is not recommended if you have previously suffered from uterine or breast cancer, a stroke, vaginal bleeding, liver disease, or clotting. If you feel cranky, try antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, anti-seizure medicine, and small doses of birth control pills. They can help control mood swings and hot flashes.
Acupuncture, herbs such as Black Cohosh, supplements, and other natural remedies can help ease most discomfort. There are certain homeopathic remedies that can do wonders for the hot flashes and mood swings. There are many homeopathic remedies to consider. They are chosen by specific symptoms you may have. Lachesis, Sepia and Pulsatilla are commonly considered. Talk to a naturopath to help determine the best medicine for you.
Review Your Lifestyle
Adopting exercise and a healthy diet improves health, reduces menopause symptoms, and enhances the quality of life. You should curb unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and stress. Choose light clothing to reduce discomfort caused by hot flashes. Keep a diary to track your period and to identify any symptoms of menopause.
The Joys of Menopause
Although menopause symptoms offer little to smile about, this phase of your life is not a disease and has some benefits to it. For starters, if you are in the menopause or postmenopause stage, you can throw out pads and tampons and treat yourself to some sexy lingerie. What’s more, you can forget about birth control pills as there are no chances of getting pregnant! Such liberation!
You can say goodbye to the effects of hormonal spikes such as depression, binge eating, and cravings and establish a stable, fulfilling lifestyle. With some TLC and self-acceptance, you can enjoy your transformation into a confident, beautiful woman with an exciting life ahead of you. Many women past the age of 50 continue to make their mark on society proving that 50 is just a number.
Although this phase begins at a potentially stressful period – a time when you worry about job security, impending retirement, physical effects of aging, your children leaving home and starting their families – it is also a period of self-awareness. You realize it is time to slow down and enjoy life. You also realize that this is the destination of the journey of womanhood.
For immediate relief, consider changing your clothing and bed linen. Choose lighter alternatives to cope with hot flashes. Consult your doctor for analysis and seek professional advice on how to live comfortably with menopause.
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Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.