Menopause: Understanding the Facts

By: James Pendergraft

Menopause, like puberty, is an inevitable part of a woman’s life. It is the end of the menstruation period, which in turn signals a great deal of changes. In the middle part of your thirties, there are changes that will happen to your ovaries. These changes include fluctuations in progesterone and estrogen levels. These hormones are very important to have normal menstrual cycles and successful pregnancies. Estrogen works at keeping a woman’s bones healthy. It could also have an effect on the levels of cholesterol in the blood and helps in retaining good memory and in sustaining the elasticity of the arteries and the skin.

Although it is very rare for menopause to happen before a woman is in her forties, it could occur anytime starting in her mid-thirties to mid-fifties. There also women who go through menopause at a much later stage in their life. It has been noted that women who smoked and by those who underwent hysterectomy, cancer therapy, or premature ovarian failure experience early menopause.

The time when changes happen in a woman’s body right before menopause is called perimenopause and could be experienced as early as her thirties.

What are the Common Menopausal Signs?

Each and every woman may undergo different changes when they go through the menopausal period. The change in their hormones can lead to different symptoms that could last from several months to a number of years and sometimes longer. While some women might experience slight discomfort because of these symptoms, some may have them more severe. There are also others who have less trouble or none at all.

These are among the common symptoms:

* Hot flashes. This is characterized by a sudden rush of heat in the body’s upper extremities
* Change in the menstrual cycle. This could be noted when periods become irregular or when having a lighter or heavier flow. There are even others who may bleed heavily for a great number of days. Periods may also come more frequently and for more number of days. There could also be some spotting in between menstrual cycles.
* Bladder and vaginal problems. These could be in the form of itching, dryness and burning in the vagina, urinary tract infections, incontinence, or vaginal infections.
* Change in libido. This is very common in women going through menopause and is usually caused by the vaginal dryness.
* Mood swings. This is because of the link between a woman’s hormonal balance and her moods.
* Problems with sleeping. These are usually in the form of waking up early or not being able to sleep at all.

Ailments during Menopause

The two most common ailments associated with menopause are heart disease and osteoporosis.

* Heart disease. The change in the estrogen levels in a woman’s body could cause this as well as the aging process. This could be linked with other problems like weight gain and high blood pressure.
* Osteoporosis. The slow production of estrogen during menopause could lead to the weakening and the easy breakage of the bones. This can be reduced by comsuming a diet that is rich in vitamin D and calcium and by doing some weight-bearing exercises.

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