BYLINE: ANGELIN JOSE
“I had hoped to enjoy some me-time after retiring from my job. But all I’ve been getting is irregular periods, hot flashes, and sleeping trouble. The fatigue and mood swings aren’t helping either”, sighs Priya, in despair.
She is going through a classic case of the menopausal transition, which is a pretty common part of the ageing process in women. Dive into this article if you’re one among the many women going through menopause problems while wondering how to deal with it.
Menopause - Overview
Menopause is the period in your life that marks the end of your menstrual cycles and the start of various changes in your body. It is usually diagnosed after you haven’t had a period for 12 months. In India, any age between 40 and 50 is the common menopause age.
Though menopause is a usual biological process, the physical symptoms (hot flashes, thinning of hair, fatigue) and the emotional signs of menopause may disrupt your sleep, affect your energy levels and influence your emotional health. There are various treatments to handle the causes of menopause. Signs of menopause during the menopausal transition (also known as perimenopause) can last for 7-14 years. The extent of this duration depends on lifestyle factors like smoking, age of onset, race, and ethnicity.
How does this work? The ovaries that store eggs also produce oestrogen and progesterone, which control your period and ovulation process. During perimenopause, the body's production of oestrogen and progesterone varies greatly. Eventually, the ovaries stop releasing eggs every month and the surge of hormones also recedes. When hormone levels decrease, emotional reactions and bodily changes take place drastically since the body has depended on these hormones to function all this while. Menopause occurs when the ovaries no longer produce an egg every month. This shuts down the menstrual cycle.
Menopause is a part of the ageing process but some women can go through menopause early. This usually happens if their ovaries were removed in a hysterectomy, or if their ovaries suffered any damage through processes like chemotherapy. This start of menopause before the age of 40 is called premature menopause.
Menopause symptoms begin to affect different women differently according to their lifestyle factors and pre-existing health conditions.
Menopause - Causes, Symptoms, and Challenges
The causes of menopause vary according to whether it is natural menopause or premature menopause.
Natural menopause is a normal part of aging. As you age, your reproductive cycle begins to slow down and gradually stops. This leads to your ovaries making less oestrogen. When this occurs, your menstrual cycle starts to change. It could go from being irregular to fully stopping. Physical changes happen when your body reacts to varying levels of hormones are all part of your body’s method of coping with these changes. This is why you may experience hot flashes or sleeplessness during this period.
If the menopause takes place before the age of 40 (Premature menopause) it could be due to:
- Having surgery that removes the ovaries.
- Being a smoker.
- Having surgery to remove the uterus
- A side effect of chemotherapy or radiation.
- Having a family history of early menopause.
- Having certain medical conditions
- Having certain infections
The symptoms or signs of menopause are as follows:
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- The body may change physically
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Breast tenderness.
- Worsening of premenstrual syndrome
- Difficulty in bladder control
- Racing heart.
- Joint and muscle aches and pains.
- Changes in libido
- Difficulty concentrating
- Weight gain
These are the side effects of menopause though they are not limited. Those going through these signs of menopause may have varied experiences depending on the causes of menopause. It is crucial to identify what causes menopause in you. It is important to seek treatment according to your personal menopause diagnosis based on these symptoms and causes. Nevertheless, these are the normal menopause symptoms most women experience.
Apart from regulating your menstrual cycle, the hormones also keep the body in control. When hormone levels go down due to menopause, women begin to face new health challenges. This happens not just due to ageing but also due to the diminishing level of oestrogen. Even if you haven’t faced health issues before going through menopause problem, you could be at the receiving end of such health issues after menopausal transitioning.
Some health conditions to look out for are:
-Urinary Tract Infection
-Oral issues like dry mouth
Top Menopause Facts That You Should Be Knowing
Knowing your symptoms and causes isn't just enough to keep you equipped on handling menopause. Here are a few interesting facts about menopause:
-Menopause is not a sudden change. It is a gradual process that happens with your body that progresses over time. This is normal when you begin to age. Some medical procedures or pre-existing conditions could cause early menopause.
-Perimenopause, the stage before menopause can start during your 30s and last for 4-6 years. Menstruation may become less regular and menopause symptoms may begin to appear.
-Treatment is available for menopause. Various methods of treatment include hormone treatment, antidepressants, treatments for sexual well-being, assessments and medications for better bone health, counselling and medicines for better mental health and lifestyle changes as well.
-Some fear that their libido will go down with the progression of menopause. Worry not, for there are various ways to keep your libido alive with the help of medications for vaginal dryness and the like. Open communication is also key to overcoming this barrier in your life.
-The body still produces oestrogen, although in smaller amounts and through other glands.
-Though menopause marks the end of your reproductive cycle, it is still possible to get pregnant.
-Menopause is not an end but rather, a new beginning. With effective treatment and lifestyle changes, it can be quite a breeze.
All About Navigating Menopause with RIO Pads
Due to irregular periods during menopause, it is quite difficult to predict your flow. On days that you face heavy period flow, RIO pads come to the rescue. RIO pads are the best sanitary pads that you can get your hands on.
RIO pads are thicker and more absorbent pads compared to normal pads because they are well suited for heavy periods and would be able to deal with heavy flow and clotting. It would be ideal to equip yourself with RIO pads that are the best pads for heavy flow periods.
Menopause is not an illness or an end to the soaring years in your life. Rather, it is the start of a journey where you can identify the needs of your body and cater to them accordingly.