Things you should know about menopause
Menopause can be as trying a time for a woman as her first period or pregnancy, only harsher. We help you understand the why, what and how of it.
A woman’s life is filled with hard times. As a teenager, she must learn to cope with regular periods; as an adult she worries about birth control and birth, and as she ages, she must learn to cope with her body changing yet again as she reaches menopause. Menopause can be as trying a time for a woman as her first period or pregnancy, only harsher. She must learn to cope with a whole new set of physical and emotional troubles. So, what is menopause?
Menopause is the absence of menstrual periods for a period of twelve months.
The menopausal transition starts with the changing length of the menstrual cycle and ends with the final menstrual period. What actually happens at the time of menopause is that the function of the ovaries ceases. The ovaries are a pair of reproductive glands in women. They are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond, and produce eggs and female hormones such as oestrogen.
The ovaries are also the main source of female hormones. These female hormones are responsible for the control and development of female body characteristics such as the breasts, body shape, and body hair.
The hormones also regulate the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Women usually reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. Symptoms of menopause can include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, vaginal and urinary symptoms, and mood changes too. But the symptoms don’t occur in all women. Many women feel no discomfort during this time at all.
Irregular vaginal bleeding is one of the symptoms of menopause. The menstrual cycle may become shorter or longer in duration before stopping altogether. Gynaecologists say that there is no “normal” pattern of bleeding during the menopause transition, and patterns vary for every woman. It is common for women to have a period after several months without one during this time.
The important thing is to remember that irregular periods are not necessarily a result of menopause and it could be due to several reasons. Thus, it is best to consult a doctor about the causes and reasons.
Hot flashes are another common occurrence in women undergoing menopause. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of warmth spreading through the body. Hot flashes can vary in duration and can last from 30 seconds to several minutes. The exact cause of hot flashes is not yet fully understood, but scientists believe that they are probably due to a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations that are brought on by declining oestrogen levels.
Women also often report several other physical and emotional symptoms too, including fatigue, memory problems, irritability, and rapid changes in mood. Some women also reported some degree of weight gain along with menopause. The reason for that is because of a change in the distribution of body fat. The fat begins to get deposited more in the waist and abdominal area than in the hips and thighs.
Relief from any of these symptoms is not difficult, but doctors strongly advice against self medication. It is first important to ascertain that the cause of your problem is menopause and not something else. This can only be done in consultation with your doctor.
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Feb 21, 2012
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