What is menopause?
(The menopause marks the time in a woman’s life when her menstruation stops and she is no longer fertile (able to become pregnant)Menopause is defined as the state of an absence ofmenstrual periods for 12 months. The menopausal transition starts with varying menstrual cycle length and ends with the final menstrual period. Perimenopause is a term sometimes used and means “the time around menopause.” It is often used to refer to the menopausal transitional period. It is not officially a medical term, but is sometimes used to explain certain aspects of the menopause transition in lay terms. “postmenopausal” is a term used to as an adjective to refer to the time after menopause has occurred. For example, doctors may speak of a condition that occurs in “postmenopausal women.” This refers to women who have already reached menopause. Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when the function of the ovaries ceases. The ovary (female gonad), is one of 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. The ovaries produce eggs (ova) and female hormones such as estrogen. During each monthly menstrual cycle, an egg is released from one ovary. The egg travels from the ovary through a Fallopian tube to the uterus. The ovaries are the main source of female hormones, which control the development of female body characteristics such as the breasts, body shape, and body hair. The hormones also regulate the menstrual cycle andpregnancy. Estrogens also protect the bone. Therefore, a woman can develop osteoporosis (thinning of bone) later in life when her ovaries do not produce adequate estrogen. Perimenopause is different for each woman. Scientists are still trying to identify all the factors that initiate and influence this transition period.What are the symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause?Experts say that technically, the menopause is confirmed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. However, the symptoms and signs of menopause generally appear well before that one-year period is over. They may include.Irregular periods – this is usually the first symptom; menstrual pattern changes. Some women may experience a period every two to three weeks, while others will not have one for months at a time.Lower fertility – during the peri-menopausal stage of a woman’s life, her estrogen levels will drop significantly, lowering her chances of becoming pregnant.Vaginal dryness – this may be accompanied by itching and/or discomfort. It tends to happen during the peri-menopause. Some women may experience dyspareunia (pain during sex). The term vaginal atrophyrefers to an inflammation of the vagina as a result of the thinning and shrinking of the tissues, as well as decreased lubrication, caused by a lack of estrogen. Approximately 30% of women experience vaginal atrophy symptoms during the early post-menopausal period, while 47% do so during the later post-menopausal period. There are cases of women who experience vaginal atrophy more than a decade after their final period. The majority of post-menopausal women are uncomfortable talking about vaginal dryness and pain and are reluctant to seek medical help.Hot flashes . feeling of heat in the upper body. It may start in the face, neck or chest, and then spreads upwards or downwards (depending on where it started). The skin on the face, neck or chest may redden and become patchy, and the woman typically starts to sweat. The heart rate may suddenly increase (tachycardia), or it may become irregular or stronger than usual (palpitations). Hot flashes generally occur during the first year after a woman’s final period.Night sweats – if the hot flashes happen in bed they are called night sweats. Most women say their hot flashes do not last more than a few minutes.Disturbed sleep – sleeping problems are generally caused by night sweats, but not always. Sleep disturbance may be caused by insomnia or anxiety. Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep increase as women go through menopause.Urinary problems – women tend to be more susceptible to urinary tract infections, such as cystitis. Having to urinate may also occur more frequently.Moodiness – this often goes hand-in-hand with sleep disturbance. Experts say that most mood disturbances are triggered by poor sleep.Problems focusing and learning – Some women may also have short-term memory problems, as well as finding it hard to concentrate on something forMore fat building up in the abdomen 1. Hair loss (thinning hair) 2. Loss of breast size. If left untreated, these symptoms will usually taper off gradually over a period of two to five years. However, symptoms can persist for much longer. In some cases, vaginal dryness, itching and discomfort can become chronic, and eventually get worse if left untreated.