Menopause is referred to as the time in a female’s life when her menstrual cycle ends permanently. It is a natural biological process. Generally, a woman begins to experience menopause symptoms in her 40s or 50s. Menopause is considered to be premature if it occurs in a woman younger than 40 years. The same is considered late if it occurs in a woman aged 55 years or more.
Perimenopause is the stage of a woman’s reproductive life when her ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. The perimenopause is the 3 to 5 year period before the menopause. During this transition phase, women may start to come across menopausal symptoms and may begin losing bone density, even though they are still menstruating.
Surgical menopause differs from natural menopause which occurs when the ovaries naturally begin to produce less sex hormones – estrogen and progesterone. In contrast, surgical menopause is induced when the ovaries are surgically removed.
Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause
Not all women experience unpleasant symptoms during the perimenopause or menopause phase. While some go through menopause without any complications or symptoms, others may experience multiple physical and psychological symptoms. The extent and severity of symptoms in women is highly individual.
Some of the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause are discussed below:
- Irregular period– Irregular period is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Some women may start experiencing a period every two to three weeks, while others will not have one for months at a time.
- Hot flashes-A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat that spreads over the body, lasting for around 30 seconds to a few minutes. Three out of every four menopausal women have hot flushes. Hot flushes generally continue to occur for several years after your last period.
- Night sweats-Severe hot flashes accompanied by intense bouts of sweating that occur during sleep are classified as night sweats. For many women, the experience of night sweats is so severe that it causes sleep problems.
- Loss of libido–It is common for women to experience a sudden drop in desire for sexual activity or intimacy during menopause. Hormonal imbalance, predominantly androgen deficiency are the main cause of low sex drive.
- Vaginal dryness-As estrogen levels drop during the perimenopause, the vaginal lining becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic and results in itchiness and irritation. Perimenopausal women may also experience severe pain during intercourse and may even note a change in vaginal discharge.
- Depression and Mood Swings-Decreasing levels of hormones during the menopause can affect the mental stability of women too. They may experience frequent mood swings, or even depression during the menopause.
- Disturbed sleep– Changes in hormone levels during the menopause can lead to difficulty in sleepingor insomnia.
- Urinary problems -Hormonal changes can also affect the tissues controlling the urinary bladder and women may find a need to pass urine more frequently. They also tend to be more susceptible to urinary tract infections, such as cystitis.
- Muscle and Joint pain– Most of the women experience muscle pain while going thraough the menopause phase. Studies have revealed that around 50 percent of post-menopausal women experience joint pain. The most commonly affected areas are the neck, shoulders, elbows, and hands.
- Memory issues-Majority of the women heading menopause often complain of memory loss, memory lapses, and an inability to concentrate.
How to treat menopause?
It has been found that simple diet and lifestyle changes can help women get relieve of the symptoms. However, women facing severe menopausal symptoms can even opt for treatments like Hormone therapy. The therapy helps relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing estrogen.