Saturday, June 19, 2021

Menopause: Symptoms, Stages and Complications

menopause

Are you experiencing changes in your monthly cycle? When was the last time you have your period? After you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period then you are undergoing Menopause.

Women undergo menopause as a natural part of ageing that marks the end of menstrual cycles.

As a woman's oestrogen levels decline, menopausal transition most often begins and can happen between the ages of 40s or 50s.

And because it is a normal biological process, women undergoing menopause may feel different physical and emotional symptoms as a result of unevenly changing levels of ovarian hormones (estrogen) in their body. There are existing menopause groups that share and discuss tips and tricks on dealing with menopause, one best example of menopause support group is run by Emma Guy, better known as the menopausal godmother.

Menopause Symptoms

Symptoms can vary among women. Any of these symptoms may be experienced in the period leading in the months of perimenopause

  • Hot flashes
  • Mood changes or mood swings like you easily get irritated
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Dry skin, Vaginal soreness and dryness
  • Chills or the opposite Night sweats/sweating
  • Uneasy, trouble sleeping
  • Loss of breast fullness
  • Headaches
  • Lower sex drive and painful sex

Among the symptoms mentioned above, hot flashes, headaches and emotional symptoms like mood swings are the most common signs of starting the menopausal stage.

Irregular menstrual periods may also differ among women, it can still be months or years before your last menstrual cycle.

How to know if it is happening.

The most recommended way to tell if it’s happening is to watch, record or chart your irregular menstrual cycles for a year or 12 months. If you have not had any period for the entire 12 months then, menopause has happened. It is also recommended to get regular check-ups and preventive screening tests recommended by your Gynecologist.

Stages of menopause

Perimenopause

Usually occurs in women around age 47. This is the stage when you experience irregular menstrual cycles like it will skip a month then return. It may skip even several months but haven’t stopped. Symptoms like hot flashes is highly noticeable in this stage.

Periods may also tend to happen in shorter cycles, but be aware that despite irregular periods pregnancy is still possible. So, if you are not sure that your menopausal transition has started and you skipped a period or two, better consider a pregnancy test.

Menopause

This is when after 12 months or a year you’ve gone without one menstrual period. More symptoms are noticeable during this stage.

Postmenopause

This is the stage when you hit the mark of the second year of no menstruation. You are now referred to as postmenopausal for the rest of your life.

Vaginal bleeding at this stage is not normal, see your doctor immediately when it happens.

Complication

Weight gain. Due to slowing of metabolism during the menopausal transition, one of the most common complication is weight gain.

Cardiovascular disease. Menopause causes decline in estrogen levels, risk of heart and blood vessel disease increases. It is important to undergo check-up, laboratory tests and doctor’s advise on how to maintain a healthy heart.

Osteoporosis. As we age, our bones become weak and brittle. Years after menopause adds to losing bone density at a high rate, thus women in the post-menopausal stage are likely susceptible to bone fractures.

Urinary incontinence. As urethra and vaginal tissues lose elasticity, urinary incontinence is one of the possible complications especially when you are too tensed and stressed. Some women get urinary tract infections more often. Ask your doctor for possible therapy like exercises and treatment option like hormone therapy that would be effective to relieve symptoms of incontinence.

Remember, lifestyle changes and adjustments are important once you reached the Menopausal stage. Healthy diet, regular exercise, regular check-ups and preventive screening tests such as pap smears, breast exams, mammogram, pelvic exams are vital to ensure a healthy you.

image credits: pixabay

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