A New Stage of Life– Menopause

Rita Jairath unveils how you can manage the crucial phase of menopause while keeping fit. There are several factors affecting the progress and this article has a holistic approach to this common but difficult issue with women approaching menopause. Read further to know.

Midlife Fertility and Menopause

All major changes in life, even positive ones, provoke contemplation on what has been and what is to come. The idea of the approaching middle age, that is inevitable, is actually something we should look forward to and be grateful for. However, you feel about menopause, it is certainly better than not getting there. Humans are also the only species to have a menopause, which suggests that limiting the childbearing years is an advantage.

Starting the change of life

Changing hormone levels, past the age of 50 can cause irregularity in periods. Menopause can occur anytime between 45 and 55, 50 years being the average age.

As menopause approaches, the ovaries slowly become less active. The production of oestrogen and the monthly release of eggs become erratic. Periods may get heavier or lighter and cycles may become shorter or longer.

You may miss a period or two, then the regularity may revive or you may just have one last period and then never have a period again after that.

A complete menopause happens only when the periods have stopped permanently and the body has completely adjusted to the reduction in hormone level. This adjustment may take as long as five years after the last period.

Some women may adjust easily and have no symptoms of menopause but most women experience many symptoms and take time to adapt.

Night sweats, hot and cold flushes and vaginal dryness, urinary problems, itchy skin in the genital regions and sometimes even increased body hair.

Bone mass may decline along with declining oestrogen. The fall in oestrogen also increases the risk of heart disease. The fall in oestrogen also increases the risk of heart disease.

Menopause may have other effects but they may be attributed to social and psychological. Some women tend to feel low, depressed, fatigue and irritable. They may have anxiety and insomnia but in Asian cultures, this is about the age when women acquire a new status.

Older women get a lot of respect and a lot more control on their own lives as they become senior and have the support of their children. So although medical help is available, menopause should not be approached with negative preoccupations. Many women feel a new surge of energy and a heightened sense of well-being.

Fighting Hot Flushes

Although the mechanism that causes hot flushes is not fully understood, but it is thought that fluctuating oestrogen levels may be responsible for sudden rushes of blood to the skin.

Some women never experience it, while in other women, it may occur only at night. For most women, intermittent hot flushes continue for three to five years.

The most effective medical treatment for hot flushes is HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) which replenishes the lost oestrogen.

If you do not wish to have HRT, an alternative drug called CLONIDINE can be prescribed by the doctor.

But there are several ways you can help yourself:

1) Wear natural fibres next to the skin.

2) Wear loose fitting clothes in layer that you can shed easily.

3) Sit near doors and windows in public places such as restaurants.

4) If you have a bout of hot flushes, try sipping a cool drink or splash tepid water on your face.

5) Coffee, tea, stress, alcohol and sudden changes in temperature can worsen hot flushes. Avoid them as much as possible.

6) Vitamin C, Vitamin E, herbal remedies or homeopathic medicines may help.

Considering HRT

As menopause occurs, the oestrogen levels in the body start declining, as the ovaries slow down. HRT works by topping up the oestrogen levels.

HRT help in alleviating hot flushes, night sweats, skin irritation, and vaginal dryness due to menopause, skin and hair look much younger and it also helps in giving an emotional boost as well as increased libido. HRT may cause return of the monthly bleeding, which may make some women feel that they are losing out on one the prime advantages of menopause.

While HRT may be associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer or breast cancer, so the family history and other risk factors are analysed before administering it. HRT also halves the risk of strokes, heart diseases fractures in later life and overall mortality. HRT can be administered in many ways like tablets, pessaries, skin patches, implants.

Every case is considered and analysed individually, to conclude whether the pros and cons; and also which forms of treatment would be most suitable.

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