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When women reach a certain age, they will naturally go through a new phase in life where their reproductive years end. This phase is called menopause. But at what age does this phase actually start for women? Also, what are the menopause symptoms?

In this guide, we will learn more about menopause, the stages, the signs and symptoms, and therapies for women. Read on!

What is Menopause?

Menopause
Menopause

Menopause, also known as climacteric, refers to women’s condition where their menstrual period ends, marking the natural end of their fertility. This means that they don’t get their period for 12 consecutive months.

WHO revealed no exact age at which women experience this phase; it generally occurs for women between 45 and 55. However, it is still possible for some people to experience it earlier, at 30 or as late as 60.

What are the Three Stages of Menopause?

An elderly woman
An elderly woman

The menopause phase happens in gradual stages, which are:

Perimenopause or “Menopause Transition”

Around 8-10 years before menopause, women will experience a transition phase called “perimenopause”. This happens around the 40s when the ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone. The gradual decrease of these hormones accelerates during the last two years of the perimenopause stage.

While some may experience the symptoms of menopause, most people still have menstrual cycles and are fertile during this stage.

Menopause

Following the perimenopause stage, the menopause stage refers to the stage when the ovaries stop their egg releases and estrogen production. As a result, they will no longer have their menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months.

During this stage, women will most likely notice symptoms like vaginal changes, hot flashes, sleeping difficulties, and changes in body shape or composition.

Postmenopause

Postmenopause starts after the 12-month mark of the menopause stage. This phase persists for the remainder of her life. Typically, the intensity of menopausal symptoms lessens during postmenopause, although some symptoms may continue for some.

Women in this phase may face a higher risk of conditions like heart disease and osteoporosis, attributed to reduced estrogen levels.

What are the Menopause Symptoms and Signs?

An elderly woman with a bladder control problem
An elderly woman with a bladder control problem

There are several common menopause symptoms and signs women experience during menopause, including:

Change in Period

Women’s menstrual cycle will change; it won’t be as regular as usual. Sometimes, it can even last longer or shorter. The flow can also be less or more than usual. While these changes are normal, it is advised to see doctors if someone experiences these:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Too-close period time
  • Spotting
  • A resumed period after 12 months of no bleeding
  • More than a week’s duration

Hot Flashes

These are sudden, intense feelings of warmth that typically affect the upper body, particularly the face, neck, and chest. The strength may be mild or intense. Sometimes, red blotches can also appear.

This condition may be related to the changing estrogen level and can last for years after menopause.

When this condition appears, it typically lasts 30 seconds to 10 minutes and occurs randomly throughout the day or week.

Bladder Control

Also known as incontinence, a loss of bladder control is also one of the menopause signs. Women may experience a sudden urge to urinate or urine leak during coughing, sneezing, or exercise.

Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep during the menopause phase will become more difficult. Some may wake up too early or have trouble falling asleep easily. Night sweats may also disturb peaceful sleep, and returning to sleep may feel hard.

Different Body Shape or Composition

A larger waist, muscle loss, fat gain, thin skin, and stiff joints are some menopause symptoms. Weight gain can also be experienced by those who are menopausal; even this slight change can put more pressure on the feet, which makes it uncomfortable.

A study revealed that these shifts can increase the risk of various health outcomes. Hence, it’s essential to consult healthcare providers to know the treatment options when these issues are getting worse.

Vaginal Health and Sexuality

Following the menopause phase, vaginas may get drier and thus affect sex experiences for some. This can result in painful intercourse.

On top of that, the feelings towards sex can also change; they can get less or more interested. 

Mood Changes

During menopause, the mood fluctuation can get worse than before. Some may notice they get way more irritable during this period. Several factors intensifying the mood changes are stress, fatigue, or even anxiety and depression. That’s why it is vital to consult doctors if these signs are getting worrisome.

What is Hormone Therapy for Menopause Like?

A woman consulting to her doctor
A woman consulting with her doctor

These are two types of hormone therapy for menopause, including:

Estrogen Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy (EPT)

Also known as combination therapy, this treatment combines estrogen and progesterone (whether in its natural form of progestin). This makes it safe for someone with a uterus.

Estrogen Therapy (ET)

ET involves various forms such as pills (like Premarin and Estrace), skin patches (like Alora and Vivelle-Dot), and topical applications, each with benefits like symptom relief and osteoporosis prevention. If someone still has a uterus, this treatment is not recommended.

What are Nonhormonal Therapies for Menopause?

A woman with a healthy diet
A woman with a healthy diet

Won’t take hormonal therapies? Nonhormonal therapies are available, with treatments including:

Avoiding Triggers to Hot Flashes

Some factors that can provoke hot flashes include spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, stress, and overheated environments.

While this approach is personalised and varies from woman to woman, it’s part of a broader lifestyle adjustment that can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.

Diet

Changing diet can help relieve menopause symptoms. Limiting daily caffeine and spicy food consumption can be a great place to start. Some food recommendations:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Flaxseed
  • Soybeans
  • Grains
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans

Exercising

Exercising is good for menopause treatments and overall women’s health. It helps improve sleep quality, relieve anxiety, and minimise mood swings.

Prescription Medications

Several prescribed medications like vaginal creams, seizure medications, and antidepressants can help manage menopause symptoms. However, medical professional advice is still needed for this treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes menopause?

Menopause occurs due to the loss of ovarian follicular function and decreased blood estrogen levels.

What are the long-term health risks related to menopause?

Some long-term health risks are heart disease, osteoporosis, Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM), urinary tract infections, incontinence, and weight gain.

Can I get pregnant during menopause?

While it is quite rare, you still have the chance to get pregnant during menopause.

Conclusion

Understanding the signs, stages, and therapies associated with menopause is essential for navigating this phase in life. If you need further assistance related to menopause or general women’s health, visit Wells Road Medical Centre now!