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Just as menstruation is a normal part of a woman’s life, so is menopause. This is a period in a woman’s life wherein the reproductive function of the ovaries will cease, typically marked by an absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months.
Menopause can occur in women as early as in their 30s or as late as in their 60s, but the average menopausal age in women is 51 years old.
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What are the causes of menopause?
Menopause naturally occurs when the aged ovaries produce less reproductive hormones. This is a period of major changes in the body that happen in response to the lowered levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) in the body.
Menopause can also be caused by injuries or surgical procedures that can affect the ovaries or the function of the ovaries.
|Mature Woman Experiencing Hot Flush/ Photo By Ian Allenden via 123RF|
What are the symptoms of menopause in women?
Most people just consider menopause as the time when they will stop experiencing menstrual periods together with the pain and symptoms associated with it. However, that’s not all there is in menopause.
Unfortunately, the months or years leading up to menopause is actually marked by symptoms that can disrupt a woman’s daily routine or cause discomfort. This period is called the perimenopause.
The most common symptoms of perimenopause include less frequent menstrual periods and heavier or lighter periods when they do occur. Vasomotor symptoms are also experienced by an estimated 75% of women during menopause, which can include hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing.
Other symptoms of menopause include insomnia, vaginal dryness, weight gain, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, reduced libido, increased urination, sore or tender breasts, headaches, urinary tract infections (UTIs), reduced muscle mass, painful or stiff joints, reduced bone mass, thinning hair or hair loss, and skin, mouth, and eye dryness.
These symptoms would not just occur all at once; these will likely begin to appear years before menopause and may also persist for some years after the menopausal transition.
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What is induced menopause?
Aside from natural causes, menopause can happen because of the surgical removal of the ovaries or other pelvic structures that can affect the ovaries. This is called an induced menopause.
The common causes of induced menopause include the surgical removal of ovaries called a bilateral oophorectomy, ovarian ablation, and pelvic radiation. Injuries in the pelvis that can damage or destroy the ovaries can also cause an induced menopause.
Women who experience an induced menopause would not experience perimenopause, but they can still experience the symptoms of menopause.
What are the complications of menopause?
There are also complications that come with menopause. These can include cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, urinary incontinence, dyspareunia, cataracts, periodontal disease, overactive bladder, mood changes, and slowed metabolism.
These complications may be because of the lowered levels of hormones in the body and the related changes that occur because of this.
However, these complications can be treated or prevented, so it’s important to consult your doctor regarding any complication you’re worried about to learn how you can protect yourself.
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Managing menopause and its symptoms
It’s true that menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life, but that doesn’t mean she just needs to keep suffering because of it.
There are many treatment options for managing menopause and its symptoms, especially if they are substantial or severe enough to interfere with a woman’s daily life.
One of these treatment options is the hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can also be called hormone therapy (HT) or postmenopausal hormone therapy (PHT). HRT uses estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progesterone to control the menopausal symptoms that are related to the lowered levels of estrogen in menopausal women, like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
For women in perimenopause who are experiencing irregular vaginal bleeding, oral contraceptive pills are prescribed to help regulate their periods and relieve hot flashes.
Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can also be prescribed to relieve hot flashes, which are reportedly effective in up to 60% of menopausal women. Antiseizure drugs like gabapentin and high blood pressure drugs like clonidine can also be used to help relieve hot flashes.
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Supplements for menopausal relief
There are also several supplements for menopausal relief or to aid your body in this period of major changes. It’s important to consult your doctor first before taking any supplements, however, to make sure they won’t be interacting with any medications you may be taking or with whatever therapy you’re undergoing for managing your menopause.
Calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium supplements are reportedly good for reducing your risk for osteoporosis during your menopause, which can develop because of the loss of bone mass caused by the lowered levels of estrogen during menopause.
The stress and hormonal fluctuations you’re going through during menopause can wreak havoc on your gut flora, which can then lead to gas, bloating, constipation, and other digestive issues. Taking probiotics supplements should help ensure that you won’t be experiencing even more discomfort during this period.
Multivitamins are also beneficial for helping menopausal women get all the nutrients they need that they might not be getting enough of in their diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, melatonin, and isoflavone supplements are also believed to help manage the symptoms of menopause.