Menopause is the term used for the cessation of the primary function of the ovaries such as releasing of mature egg and the release of hormones responsible for menstruation. Menopause typically happens between ages 40 and 50. Some women may experience menopause later than 50. When menopause happens, the fertile phase of a woman’s life will end.
Menopause happens because of the decreasing number of hormonal levels as a woman gets old. The transition from being reproductive to non reproductive is gradual and not sudden. This phenomenon happens over years and is a natural process of aging. As natural as it is, some women may still find menopause as a health problem because it interferes with their daily activities and sense of well being. For women who have reproductive problems such as endometriosis and cancer, the menstruation is more likely to halt earlier. Menopause can be declared if there has been cessation of menstruation for at least one year.
Since menopause is not sudden and the process develops over years, it is described as the overall process of the menopause transition years. Three transition phases are involved in menopause.
• Premenopause – This phase marks up the transition between normal hormonal level and the gradual decrease of the level of hormones.
• Perimenopause – During this phase, a woman will experience the symptoms of menopause.
• Postmenopause – At this point, a woman is considered infertile. The one year without menstrual flow should occur first before declaring that women is in postmenopause stage.
During menopause, a woman may experience different discomforts and symptoms because of the rapidly fluctuating hormonal levels. A woman may experience vascular instability such as migraine, hot flashes, and rapid heart rate. The women may also experience vaginal atrophy, itchiness, dryness, urinary frequency, urgency, urinary incontinence, UTI, back pain, joint pain, breast atrophy, breast swelling, fornication, depression, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbances, dyspareunia and decreased libido.
Menopause is a natural process. However, when the occurrence of menopause causes conditions that interfere with day to day living, management of menopause is needed.
Hormone replacement therapy is one way to manage the effects of menopause. It is given to supplement the needed hormonal levels in the body such as estrogen.
Antidepressants are also given to combat mood swings, depression, hot flashes, and sleeping problems.
Moreover, blood pressure medications are also given for hot flashes and for women experiencing high blood pressure because of menopause.
Also, the risk of osteoporosis increases when a woman gets into menopause. That is because of the decreased level of estrogen in the body. Estrogen is not only a vital part in menopause but also a vital part in maintaining bone density. There is rapid bone loss in the body as menopause starts. To prevent this, hormone therapy is given as well as high intake of calcium.
Other therapies are used for specific discomforts such as avoiding foods that trigger hot flashes, joining support groups so that one will learn how to deal with depression and other menopausal related problems.