A Woman’s Guide to Menopause
Ah, the joys of menopause. Many middle-aged women have been primed to expect (and likely even dread) this stage of life. But in many ways this natural process is something to be celebrated! A woman who has gone through menopause no longer has to worry about “that time of the month” or stress about the possibility of getting pregnant later in life, when the risks are very high.
Most women experience this end of their fertile period of life in their 40s or 50s. In the United States, 51 is the average age a woman begins menopause. The transitional period could last a few months or carry on for several years. This transitional period, or phase, is called “perimenopause.” Menopause is officially defined as the time when a woman has missed her period for 12 consecutive months.
So what is actually going on in a woman’s body during this time? Let’s discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatments for menopause so the experience is less of a mystery.
Symptoms of Menopause
Many of the symptoms of menopause are familiar to women because they are often identical to those experienced during menstruation, pregnancy, and postpartum. This makes sense, because, as with these other phases, women are undergoing a drastic change in hormone levels as their ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone.
Unfortunately, most of the symptoms of menopause are not very fun to deal with, which is why menopause gets such a bad rap. Here are some of the symptoms a woman may experience:
- Irregularity of periods
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Muscle aches and pains
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Changes in sex drive (libido)
- Breasts sagging and reducing in size
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems and insomnia
- Mood swings
All of these symptoms are natural and will go away when the menopause transition is complete. But there are other risks that occur in postmenopausal women, including but not limited to osteoporosis, heart disease, and weakened vision.
Causes of Menopause
As we mentioned above, menopausal women stop producing estrogen and progesterone in their ovaries, and the production stop is the root of all the unpleasant symptoms that come along with this phase of life.
Estrogen and progesterone control menstruation and ovulation, the fertility cycle which controls when a woman can become pregnant. When estrogen levels start lowering, the perimenopause phase begins and can last several years. When the ovaries actually stop releasing eggs, menopause has officially occurred.
A few other situations can bring on menopause, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a hysterectomy. A woman could also be induced into menopause by her doctor, if she has medical problems like uterine cancer or endometriosis. And in extremely rare cases (less than 1 percent of the time), a woman could go through menopause because of genetic factors or autoimmune disease.
Treatment for Menopause
By now you know that menopause has a long list of symptoms, and the experiences vary from woman to woman. While some have a relatively short and painless perimenopause phase, other women may endure years of uncomfortable symptoms.
Most doctors treat menopause symptoms individually, with special medications for the more common and annoying symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. However, there are general treatments like hormone therapy that can ease the discomfort of menopause as well.
During hormone therapy a woman is given doses of estrogen and progesterone to level off the imbalance her body is experiencing. The hormones can be delivered by pills, patches, creams, gels, or vaginal rings. Antidepressant medications are also commonly used to treat hot flashes.
There are a wide array of options for those looking to relieve menopause symptoms in a more natural fashion. Many women feel stressed from the irritable symptoms and lack of quality sleep they may be experiencing during this time. For this reason, yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are great options to help women feel more relaxed and at ease.
Women can also make some lifestyle changes to cope with menopause. For example, the weight gain caused by lowered metabolism during menopause can be combated with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Physical activity can also help with side effects like mood swings and sleep problems.
Treating Menopause Vaginal Dryness
If women are already experiencing a lowered libido, vaginal dryness that comes with menopause can really have a negative effect on their sex lives. Restore Femininity can help ease the discomfort of sex with an oral supplement that helps restore vaginal health. Contact us to learn more or shop now on our website.