What is Menopause?
In simple terms, “the menopause” is the period when menstruation gradually becomes less and less regular and then finally stops. Most women experience “menopause” between 45 to 55 years of age, although some women experience it anywhere between 30 to 60 years of age.
Hopefully, your menopause will pass by without any ill-effects. But if you start feeling terrible and can’t understand why – chances are it’s menopause!
If you do get ill-effects, don’t panic – many problems are strictly temporary and most can be eased or alleviated in a variety of ways.
Above all be positive – see menopause as a useful reminder to you to pay attention to your weight, diet and lifestyle.
The most common signs of menopause
Include any or all of the following:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Sudden inexplicable fatigue
- Irritability, anxiety, mood swings
- Sudden crushing depression
- Forgetfulness and headaches
- Pain in back or joints
- Panic attacks & dizziness
- Thinning scalp hair
- Growth of facial hair
- Vaginal dryness or inflammation
To put it simply:
- The supply of eggs in a woman’s ovaries dwindles.
- As a result, levels of the two hormones Oestrogen & Progesterone fluctuate, then decline.
- Also, menstrual periods become irregular, then cease.
- In addition, due to the disruption in hormone supply, the body suffers a variety of side-effects.
The medical side-effects of menopause
The reduction in Oestrogen leads to the following:
- Weight is redistributed to the central abdominal region (stomach)
For details, see Weight control during menopause
- There is an increased risk of heart disease
For details of heart disease, click Heart disease – the facts
- There is an increased risk of osteoporosis
For more details, click osteoporosis.
The treatment & relief of menopause side-effects
Step 1. Consult your doctor
Some doctors know a great deal about menopause, others know zilch. Don’t rest until you have found a knowledgeable doctor with whom you are comfortable. Even if this takes several months, it is definitely worth doing. In addition, take steps to inform yourself about the menopause, it’s effects and how to treat them.
Step 2. Question your doctor closely
In particular, find out the following:
- What treatment options are available to you.
These may include: Hormone Replacement Therapy, alternative programs, or support groups.
- What is your cholesterol level; what is your blood pressure; what additional heart disease risk factors are present in your family history.
- What self-tests you can perform to check for breast-disorders.
- What vitamin and mineral guidelines you should follow to minimize the risk of osteoporosis.
- What exercise regime will be safe for you.
Subject to your doctor’s advice, proceed to Step 3.
Step 3. Take control of your personal menopause!
- Take exercise – for details, see Exercise Introduction
and Exercise tips.
- Eat properly – for details, see Sensible Eating.
- Get your weight under control – for details,
see Menopause Weight control.
Step 4. Get support
Look around for a good support group, local or online. A support group can be a great help when coping with the side-effects of menopause.