FEMAIL: Sooner or later, every woman will go through the menopause
FEMAIL: Sooner or later, every woman will go through the menopause. Learn how to beat the blues with a strong will, confidence and a positive attitude
Sooner or later every woman will experience it, but each woman’s experience will be different. For most it’s nothing less than a nightmare, for others it may be liberating. Menopause is an inevitable part of every female’s life and has long been viewed as the worst enemy of her femininity. Translating to loss of youth and fertility, over centuries past and even now women live in complete fear of it.
However, slowly but gradually, the mindset is evolving.
Women no longer view it as a disaster but rather choose to make that effort which allows them to cruise through it smoothly. They now prepare themselves, mentally, emotionally and physically to cope with menopause.
Dr. Madhu Goel, a gynecologist at Rockland Hospital, Delhi, says: “If some women look at it as something that marks the end of their fertile years, others also feel liberated by it.”
Primarily it depends on how you perceive it. In fact, how you choose to deal with it also determines how easy or difficult your journey will be.”One or another day it will happen to every woman. So why dread it? My children are grown up and have flown the nest. I don’t need to worry about periods anymore, which is lovely,” says 50-year-old school teacher Shalini (name changed), who is absolutely at peace with her menopause. Today we see a generation of women who don’t feel inhibited or intimidated by menopause.
For a spirited set of women, menopause is a sign of freedom from pain and the discomfort of periods.
Femail spoke to a few ‘liberated’ ones (as they prefer to call themselves) and learned how one can beat menopausal blues with a strong will, confidence and positive attitude.
For 47-year-old jewelry designer Niharica (name changed), reading about menopause helped in a big way. “In simple words, menopause means the stoppage of periods and it occurs when your ovaries stop producing eggs. And it happens to all women, so why to fret?” asks Niharica.
Dr. Amita Shah, gynecologist, Columbia Asia hospital, Gurgaon, explains: “Menopause is the time when your ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone, the two key hormones that control one’s menstrual cycle. However, this doesn’t happen overnight. From few months to several years, it takes over a period of time before your periods finally stop. The average age of it is 51.”
Irregular periods/menstruation cycle is the first and most common sign of menopause. From heavy to prolonged ones, periods gradually decrease with time. Other symptoms like hot flushes, night sweat, and dry vagina are directly linked to decreasing estrogen levels in the body.
Also, post menopause women are at a greater risk of stroke and osteoporosis. The hormonal changes also lead to a series of other problems like weight gain, mood swings, low energy, loss of libido and forgetfulness.
For many, it is the symptoms like hot flushes, night sweat, dry vagina, mood swings and urinary problems that make it intolerable.
“These symptoms have a demoralizing effect on a woman’s confidence,’ agrees Dr. Pulkit Sharma, psychologist, VIMHANS, Delhi. The sense of loss of femininity (as they can no longer get pregnant) and their sexual drive (dry vagina which makes intercourse painful) has devastating effects on them.
“Since men continue to be fertile, women develop a huge subconscious fear of being rejected. They believe that their partners would abandon them,’ explains Dr. Sharma.
“For many women, it’s also a time when their work in the household and involvement in their children’s life that takes a backseat. The ’empty nest syndrome’ adds to the problem on an emotional level,” adds Dr Goel.
Also, there are a few who refuse to accept it and live in a denial, despite experiencing terrible symptoms. Moreover, women feel embarrassed to talk about ‘the change’ with their peers and pals, forget seeking professional help. And the silence aggravates their suffering.
“The real cure of the problem lies in how soon you accept it and how you deal with it,” States Dr. Sharma.
Take expert help
Consulting the doctor for any unexpected change that you have been experiencing in your body is very crucial. Today, a range of solutions are available to cure a majority of symptoms. “We prescribe ‘isoflavones’ (pills comprising soya granules) in cases of severe symptoms. For hot flushes one can take help of estrogen pills, whereas for vaginal irritation and itch various conjugated estrogen creams for local application are often recommended” informs Dr. Shah.
However, one shouldn’t use these without consulting a gynecologist. “Those with a history of cancer or suffering from hypertension, cardiac problems and bleeding disorders should not take these,” warns Dr. Shah.
The most popular of all treatments, however, has been HRT (Hormone Replacement Treatment. It replaces the hormones that the body stops producing after menopause and thus, results in alleviation of its symptoms. But due to its side effects, doctors rule it out as an option.
“Excess of estrogen (given in HRT) can lead to breast, ovarian and uterine cancer. It also increases the risk of hypertension and stroke,’ warns Dr. Shah.
When 39-year-old executive Priyanka (name changed) was diagnosed with early menopause, her first reaction was something that would shock to many.
“I told my doctor that I have two kids already and don’t need more eggs anyway,’ she laughs. If Priyanka laughed it off then 40- year-old single parent Renu took the help of meditation.
“It relaxes your nerves and calms your mind. It gives you total control over your body and mind. I regained my confidence with it,” she states.
Niharica saw ‘the change’ as the beginning of a new life.
“Thoughts of aging or loss of libido never crossed my mind. In fact, I continue to enjoy a healthy sex life post it. For me, it was a big relief from my monthly suffering. And my husband was also happy to see me relieved. Now, I can concentrate on my work and children,” she smiles.
According to this mother, to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself can help you sail through it smoothly. “It’s all in the mind. Keep yourself busy because when your mind is occupied, you don’t get time to think about it,” she shares.
Dr. Ashima Shukla, psychologist, Artemis Hospital, Delhi says: “Go out with your friends, indulge in travel, pursue your hobbies and commit to regular exercise and yoga. Menopause is the next stage of life that needs more care and attention.”