A woman plays many roles in her life but unfortunately she neglects her own health. She goes through a whole lot of changes starting from puberty, pregnancy, in some cases abortions and surgeries to finally hit menopause.
Menopause is the period in a woman’s life when menstruation ceases. While this is the most common perceived change, it is not the only change. Menopause is defined as absence of period for 1 year. The time period preceeding that is called perimenopause and may be associated with a lot of symptoms.
Some of the COMMON SYMPTOMS of are
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes: this is the most common and most trouble symptom ; the woman suddenly feels very hot and may have sweating resulting in discomfort.
- Chills and Night sweats: Excessive sweating in the night
- Sleep problems, Mood changes – irritability, anxiety & depression. Hormonal changes as well as social factors like empty nest syndrome may lead to this
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning of hair and dry skin
- Loss of breast fullness
Symptoms may vary for different women but most women would have irregular periods before their period stops.
AVERAGE AGE OF MENOPAUSE
This can happen around 40s or 50s. Average Indian age is around 51.
DIAGNOSIS OF MENOPAUSE
The diagnosis is usually based on history
- No menstrual bleeding for 12 month
- Skipping periods before menopause is common.
- Periods also tend to come sooner at times.
- There may be history of hot flushes, vaginal dryness, repeated urine infections, dyspareunia etc
IS PREGNANCY POSSIBLE DURING IRREGULAR PERIODS?
Yes. Despite irregular periods, pregnancy is possible. If you’ve skipped a period but aren’t sure you’ve started menopause, it is advisable to do a pregnancy test.
What to do at the time of menopause?
- Regular doctor visits & preventive health checkup is essential – this is a time of transition and change and regular checks are essential to maintain optimum health.
- Preventive health check will usually include
• Pap smear
• USG Pelvis
• Regular blood tests like lipid profile, blood sugar, thyroid etc
- Healthy diet – high in phyto estrogens like soya/ tofu; chickpeas
- Regular Exercise – exercise go a long way in maintaining flexibility and bone density.
- Stop smoking
- For hot flashes – dress in layers; preferably cotton clothes, avoid spicy foods, hot drinks; especially at night
- Develop a hobby – menopause is a time which is accompanied by social changes as well like the kids leaving home resulting in an empty nest syndrome. Developing hobbies, inculcating friends, maintaining a social circle help keep depression and anxiety in control
Risk of certain conditions increase after Menopause:
- UTI – You may have urinary tract infections more often.
- Sexual discomfort – Vaginal dryness from decreased moisture production and loss of elasticity can cause discomfort and slight bleeding during sexual intercourse. Also, decreased sensation may reduce your desire for sexual activity (libido).
- Weight gain – Many women gain weight during the menopausal transition and after menopause because metabolism slows. You may need to eat less and exercise more, just to maintain your current weight.
- Heart and blood vessel diseases – High cholesterol and Increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Excessive bleeding from vagina at times
- Osteoporosis – Bone loss leading to an increased risk of fracture
- Urinary incontinence – you may experience frequent, sudden, strong urges to urinate, or involuntary passing of urine with coughing, laughing or weight lifting .
- Breast cancer – Women face a higher risk of breast cancer following menopause
In case of any health issues you need to consult a gynaecologist.
You may be given
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – HRT is highly effective for many symptoms that occur during menopause
- Low-dose antidepressants
- Osteoporosis treatments – Treatments for osteoporosis include dietary supplements (Vitamin D, Calcium) and drug therapy.
- Alternative treatment
Menopause is natural part of life. Don’t let it stop you.