It is the time when a women’s period stops. Women allover the world interpret menopause differently, their fears and concerns about menopause vary by culture. Some women fear a loss of their spouses’ sexual interest when they can no longer have children or due to increased complaints from sexual act due to vaginal soreness and dryness others worry about their mental health and fear losing control of their emotions. Too many women have been victims of cultures and societies that have not taken their symptoms seriously. Medicine has found solutions to help women passing though this interval.
Menopause happens between 45 – 55 years old. It is due to depletion of her eggs. During her reproductive life, the eggs are responsible for releasing Estrogen and other hormones which have many good effects on her body. The decreased hormones level and especially estrogen leads to Vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal lining which can reduce arousal during sex and increase friction which in turn may produce burning or irritation , The woman becomes more vulnerable to urinary infections , Breasts may lose some of their bulk , Skin may become a little less elastic , Hot flushes, Psychological symptoms such as mood swings and insomnia, Sweating attacks ,Heart diseases are increased due to increased LDL (Bad cholesterol) , A decrease in testosterone levels thus decreasing sex libido , loosing bone density rapidly, increasing your risk of osteoporosis and fractures , frequent and sudden urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine or the loss of urine with coughing, laughing or lifting.
However, a lot of women move through menopause with little or no symptoms.
Menopause is confirmed by elevated FSH levels and declining estrogen levels. Regular annual checkup at the doctor is done by:
- Bone densometry using DEXA machines or sometimes using ultrasound measuring of the bones of the heel as a screening method.
- Breast mammogram is an x-ray test that produces an image of the inner breast tissue on film. It shows normal and abnormal structures in the breasts.
- Breast self-examination on a monthly basis and regular examination by a doctor.
- Blood cholesterol and lipid profile for fear of heart diseases.
- Heart checkup and blood pressure.
- Pap smear is a medical procedure in which a sample of cells from a woman’s cervix is collected and examined under a microscope to look for pre-malignant (before-cancer) or malignant (cancer) changes.
Possible treatments for menopause
- Hormone replacement therapy consists of estrogens or a combination of estrogens and progesterone. It is used to control the symptoms of menopause but unfortunately it has side effects so the decision about hormone therapy is very individual in which the patient and doctor must take into account the inherent risks and benefits of the treatment. It is currently recommended that if hormone therapy is used, it should be used at the smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time.
- Alternatives to Hormone Replacement
- For hot flashes: Several drugs offer limited relief: synthetic progesterone and androgen, methyldopa.
- For painful intercourse due to vaginal dryness: Applying a vaginal cream or vaginal tablets with estrogen once or twice a week can be of help.
- Bone loss: Bisphosphonates, Raloxifene, Calcitonin, Vitamin D, estrogen, calcium.
- Psychological Depression: Counseling and low dose anti depressants.
- Lifestyle and home remedies Fortunately, many of the signs and symptoms associated with menopause are temporary. Take these steps to help reduce or prevent their effects:
- Heart diseases: Stop smoking, regular aerobic exercise, and eat a diet low in saturated fats and plenty whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Hot flashes: regular exercise, dress in layers and try to pinpoint what triggers your hot flashes. For many women, triggers may include hot beverages, spicy foods, alcohol, hot weather and even a warm room. Other options of treatment include aromatherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicines and massage.
- Decrease vaginal discomforts: Use vaginal lubricants or moisturizers. Staying sexually active also helps. Other options include the consumption of phytoestrogens, found in soy-based foods.
- Optimize your sleep. Avoid caffeine and plan to exercise during the day, learn relaxation techniques.
- Urinary tract infections: Drinking plenty of fluids and urinating as frequently and completely as possible.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by Kegel exercises.
- Eat well: Eat a well balanced diet and increase your calcium and vitamin D intake.
- Don’t smoke.
- Exercise regularly.
- Schedule regular checkups with your doctor.
Pros of Menopause
- You no longer have to deal with monthly menstrual cycles, which are often accompanied with cramping and bloating.
- You can have sex safely because you no longer worry about getting pregnant.
- Relationships get stronger because women communicate more with their partner.
- Reaching menopause is a sign that you are physically and emotionally mature enough to handle all the tuff stuff that life has to dish out with grace and elegance.