Written by Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD
The term, 'menopause' refers to the physiological cessation of menstruation at a certain age, usually between 45-55 years, in life. Although the term is used to describe all the various symptoms that occur at this stage, the actual meaning of the word is just what it says - 'pause of menstruation'.
The right term for all the menopausal symptoms as well as menopause itself is 'Climacteric'. Climacteric is the transitional phase lasting for 1-5 years during which the reproductive tract changes in response to the decreasing activity of the ovaries.
The peri-menopause is the 3 to 5 year period before the menopause when a woman's estrogen levels begin to drop.
Symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, increased sweating, weight gain, mood swings etc. may start at this time and reach a peak in the first few years after the menopause. These symptoms usually last for about 3-5 years beyond the menopause and then gradually decreases. Some women however have reported suffering from these symptoms for as long as 10 years after the menopause.
Menopause occurs when the ovaries cease to function. So a woman who has had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may not be menopausal although she will not get regular periods. But a woman who has had her ovaries removed will go into surgical menopause even with an intact uterus.
A woman is said to be menopausal when she has not had her periods ('amenorrhea') for at least 1 year from the date of her last period. Menopause usually starts with a gradual decrease in the amount of blood loss during each menstrual period and an increase in the gap between two periods. It is one of the main causes for late periods after the age of 40 years.
It may sometimes be associated with excessive and prolonged bleeding due to the hormonal imbalances at this time. If excessive bleeding does occur, it should be thoroughly investigated to rule out conditions like endometrial hyperplasia.
Age of Onset of MenopauseThe age at which menopause generally occurs is in the range of 45-55 years. But this can depend to a great extent on hereditary factors, ethnicity, family history, general health of the woman, presence of other conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, cancer of the reproductive organs etc. These medical issues can speed up the onset of menopause. Other factors like the number of pregnancies as well as the use of birth control measures also have an effect on the age of onset of menopause. Read more ...
Symptoms of MenopauseThe symptoms of menopause occur due to the changes in the various organs of the body as a result of decreasing estrogen levels. The most common symptom, besides amenorrhea (loss of periods) is hot flashes with or without excessive sweating. Other symptoms are osteoporosis, weight gain, mood swings, changes in the skin and hair, constipation, decreased libido (interest in sex) etc. Read More ...
Diet in MenopauseThe menopause diet should be a wholesome diet which provides adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and minerals and vitamins like calcium and iron. It should also provide adequate fibres for roughage since there is a tendency to develop constipation at this time. Fluids are also a necessary part of the diet. Read More ...
Exercises in MenopauseRegular exercises after the menopause should be a very necessary part of a woman's life. Exercises help to decrease the effects of osteoporosis to some extent by building up the strength of the muscles. It also helps to keep the joints supple and flexible and thus prevent falls. Exercises also help to decrease weight gain and prevent constipation. Read more ...
Treatment of MenopauseTreatment for menopausal symptoms is not required in most women. But in about 10% of women, the symptoms may be severe enough to require appropriate medicines. The standard treatment is the replacement of the decreasing levels of estrogen secreted by the ovaries by external supplements. HRT (hormonal replacement therapy) has been prescribed for a long time but there are many side effects related to estrogen supplementation and it should be prescribed only where it is absolutely necessary. Read More ...
Books on MenopauseBooks on menopause describe not only the process of menopause but also how the symptoms can be overcome by HRT or by natural methods like exercises, right food, meditation, etc. Most of these books can be bought online. Read More ...
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- Asherman's Syndrome - an uncommon cause of loss of periods .
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